Photoing Big Ben from pavement level

My day was spent recovering from a busy yesterday, trying not to get too hot in all the hotness, and then when I should have been saying profound things here I was watching the first Men’s Hundred Game, which was every bit as entertaining as yesterday’s game, again because it was a good game, and was again won by the Oval Invincibles, this time the men’s version.

So, a photo from the I Just Like It collection, photoed way back in 2007:

He’s photoing Big Ben, with the friend in the horizontally striped stockings in front of it, which means he has to be phptoing from pavement level.

I love the contortions we photoers get ourselves into to get the exact photo we want. It’s as if the process, being so easy, has to become complicated, or else where’s the creativity?

Landscape painters never used to behave like this. They just parked their easels in a comfortable spot for painting, and started painting.

Maybe it’s just that we photoers do this kind of thing because we can!

Shadow selfie out east

Haven’t been feeling my best today. So a photo from the I Just Like It File:

On the left is the photo I Just Like, photoed in June 2014, by the River, way out east, beyond the Barrier, near a sewage works. And on the right, for anyone who cares, enough context to give a decent clue about how this strange photo came about.

I actually think this photo looks better in the smaller version, because all the shadowy stuff is a bit out of focus.

Post box cosy with swan and cygnets

Posted by a friend on Facebook today:

Swans being so very elegant, I am only one of many who likes to photo them, and there’s nothing special about my swan photos, unless the swans are the wrong colour, that being a posting here that keeps on being visited from time to time. But these knitted swans are definitely swans with a difference.

The BBC has more.

Distant views of the Wembley Arch

I don’t know about you, but I thought England did quite well last night. They matched a superb Italian side for two hours and more, only losing very narrowly on penalties. It was as close as these things can be. Had Italy won 6-0, that would have been very bad, but that didn’t happen. As it was England were the better team in the first half, and when Italy came back at them so strongly after half time they could have disintegrated, but didn’t. Nor did England get knocked out earlier in the tournament. I know lots of people say that in sport, winning is everything, but it’s clearly not so. A good losing effort counts for a lot. Winning is better, I know that, but losing well is not nothing.

So, I for one have no problem contemplating where it all happened, again:

Those photos were photoed at irregular intervals, and from various spots since the new Wembley got finished. Photo 1, as I recall: Hampstead. Photos 2 and 3: Up River, towards Putney. 4: From the Top of Tate Modern. 5: From the top of the Air Forces Memorial just above Runnymede, a walk away from where I grew up. 6: After I’d actually been at a match at the olace. 7: Somewhere south, but not sure exactly where (The archives weren’t always as well organised as they later got to be. 8 and 9: From the top of the tower of Westminster Cathedral. Some of these views are very distant, but it’s there in every one I promise you.

And it continues being one of my favourite London Big Things.

Wembley under construction

All eyes are on Wembley just now. I am even now watching The Final, England being one up after half an hour, having been one up after two minutes of course. Italy are getting back into it though, and as if to prove the beginning of this sentence spot on, just when I typed in the previous comma but one, they nearly managed an equaliser. The England goalie was well beaten. But now England have just missed a goal, so as of now I have no idea how it will end.

Having nothing useful to contribute in the way of football analysis, I went looking for Wembley photos in the archives, and encountered this trove of photos, all named and numbered and resized and ready to go but which have yet to be displayed here, of what I still think of as the “new” Wembley, when they were busy constructing it, way back in 2005:

September 20th 2005 to be exact, again with the Canon S1 IS, which was as I’ve said earlier in the week, very hit or miss. But quite a hit that day, I think. I have seen a game inside this new stadium and it is a stadium much like any other. But that arch was a stroke of genius. If we still want to think about football in a few days time, I may gather together some more of my Wembley photos, this time of how it looks in the bigger London picture.

It’s now half time, and the BBC commetators are all explaining why England are winning. But Mancini will have plenty to say to his team, and Italy will surely be better than they were at the start of this.

We shall see.

E-scooters for hire outside South Ken Tube

How about this, some photos photoed by me, yesterday!

E-scooters, of the only sort that are legal in London, outside (see above) South Kensington tube.

When and where can I ride an e-scooter legally? Is that what you’re wondering? Follow that link to find out.

E-scooters can go at 60mph, but these ones are fixed so they can only do 15mph. You can ride them on the road but not on the pavement. This way, the e-scooting community will be in danger themselves, but will subject pedestrians to fewer dangers. All will depend on how this is policed.

My current personal opinion is that making e-scooters work will require a major upheaval of the transport system, and this will not happen in a city like London any time very soon. Much more likely is that some place, somewhere on earth, where the masses really want e-scooters and are very willing to take the risks of driving them at a worthwhile speed, will subject itself to this upheaval, and may even make it work semi-safely. At which point, the rest of the world will look, and copy, maybe. But, I think all of that is quite a way off. For now, they’ll only be toys for boy racers. During Lockdown, the roads were rather empty and they worked well and were winked at the by law, even though supposedly illegal. I suspect that will all end now.

But, those are only my guesses. We shall see.

My photos don’t show the details of what was on those cards legibly. Sorry about that. In can tell you that the middle card of the three in the last photo was “Rules of the Road”, but the rules were unreadable. The bloke in my photo presumably did better in that regard. Maybe I should have used my mobile.

Modernism plus vegetation

Now that I am reduced to scrabbling through my archives for photos to show here, Cousin David is helping to fill the gap. Recently he sent in some photos of cranes and new construction, in the City of London. By far my favourite, however, was of something I have not made a point of noticing, until now.

I have been banging on here about how Modernism is soon going to start being seriously jazzed up by being painted in all the colours anyone can imagine. But another way of brightening up Modernism, and in the short run a more popular way with the currently powerful architects, is to let plants thrive in it and on it. The effect is a bit similar to when a medieval castle or abbey finds itself getting the same treatment.

Modernism plus vegetation equals Modernist picturesque. The point being: Modernism is not now all that modern any more. Cover a concrete monstrosity with plants and you destroy, or at the very least strongly dilute, its brutalism. The contrast is between brutality on the march, and the brutality having been stopped in its tracks to the point where Mother Nature gets to clamber all over it. In these pictures you see Modernism shedding its modernity, and settling back in to be just another ye olde style.

This is already a definite architectural trend. Because of Greenery and all that, save the planet blah blah, this kind of thing is happening more and more. And, as this next of David’s photos shows, with new buildings as well as slightly antique ones:

That looks a lot more recent. Yet there’s grass all over the top of it. It’s got a way to go before it rivals the top photo, and it probably won’t do so any time soon because individual dwellers and their potted plants won’t be competing with one another the way they are in photo 1. But it shows you the way that architectural opinion, and practise, is already moving. This stuff will of course do bugger all to save the planet (because the planet does this sort of stuff for itself automatically), but the point is to signal that you’re doing that, while making places that look and feel prettier and more homely.

It took me no time at all, when I looked on Dezeen for illustrations of this trend, to encounter postings like this one.

Down by the River – October 15th 2005

Yes, a quota gallery from yesteryear:

Even then, with my antiquated Canon S1 IS, I was already photoing goodish photos, or at any rate photos I thought were goodish (and still do). It was just that the success rate then was a bit lower, and the light had to be perfect. That day, it was.

I reckon about a third of those views would look exactly the same now. However, anything with a camera or a map in it is now history. Cameras and maps are now the same things, apart from that tube map on those pants. Mobile phones can’t yet double up as underwear.

Plus, the City of London Big Thing cluster is now … a cluster, rather than just isolated oddities. Who knew then how quickly the Gherkin would be smothered by other Bigger Things? Well, probably a lot of people knew, but I was not one of them.

I have a particular soft spot for photo 6, the one with what looks to me like a thing made of cocktail sticks. It looks to me like a thing made with cocktail stick because I used to make things like that with cocktail sticks. Although, that one in the above photo is extremely primitive compared to some of the things I made, shapes I have never seen since. Memo to self: I must dig out the photos of those, such as the photos were. My stick objects, sadly, predated digital photography.

Perry de Havilland on those Covid demonstrations

Well, I managed to do a posting that I had merely hoped to do for Samizdata, about the Covid demo in London the weekend before last, linking back here to all the photos of it that I stuck up here.

Here. and there, I added some rather rambling verbiage about how I had mixed feelings about such demos. Do they work? What do they achieve? That kind of thing.

And I really liked Perry de Havilland’s comment on my Samizdata piece in response:

Demonstrations are much misunderstood; particularly ones like this (& this was a huge demonstration).

They are not going to change state policy directly because that just isn’t how things work, they are mostly about deisolating activists, they are about demonstrating to the demonstrators that they are not crazy (even if some of them are as is the case in any group of disparate people).

Demonstrations are a building process. Demonstrations in this case are particularly effective at highlighting assorted lies about this particular disease. After all, get hundreds of thousands unmasked unvaccinated people shouting for a few hours face to face, there is going to be an observable spike in deaths each time, right? Right? 🤣

Some demonstrations against the lockdown got hammered by the police earlier on … why? Because they were small enough to get hammered by the police to try and discourage other demonstrations. In this demonstration, the police were so vastly outnumbered, by a march that refused to even tell the police where it was going to march (by design), there was never any chance it could be stopped with truncheons. And the demonstration’s organisation was connected yet dispersed, utterly protean: a couple organisers were arrested before the march to try and derail it, and expecting that, others on various platforms seamlessly took over.

What THAT demonstrates to the marchers is that resistance is not futile, they are not alone. In fact, they are legion. It was an anti-lockdown march but it was also an anti-media march, giving lie to the idea that utterly dominating the media dominates public opinion (as if Brexit had not already proven the falsity of that in the internet age). How many times do crap opinion polls have to get it wrong for demonstrable things (such as election & referendum outcomes) for you to stop believing them when things are less demonstrable?

If you don’t ‘get it; then who cares; you are most likely not the target audience. But these marches are not a pointless hissy fit like some marches, these particular marches are literal in-your-face defiance of instructions by the state intending to protect you from “the inevitable consequences of a terrible disease spreading amongst crowds”. These marches are an absolute refusal to obey & a demonstration that the state relies on your willing even if grudging compliance, because there is a tipping point beyond which they do not have enough people with truncheons to force your compliance. That is what demonstrations like this are for & it is working just fine.

Perry and I have since talked further about this, and it is clear, from his and other comments, that libertarianism, as I merely speculated hopefully, really is spreading amongst those demonstrators. In general, says Perry, a lot of people are going to be radicalised by Covid, more precisely: by the response to Covid. This will take time, as the economic damage done by this response makes itself felt and as the facts start emerging in greater detail, both the scientific facts and the policy making facts. Of course, nothing like all of this radicalising will be in a libertarian direction, but a lot of it will.

And I had completely ignored the crucial point that this one was a demonstration in favour of the right to demonstrate, and in defiance of the claim that demonstrations would spread The Plague.

Perry and I also agreed that if it had been a real Plague – dead bodies in the street, double digit percentage deaths and so on – our attitude would have been very different. This is an argument about the mishandling of medical data, not just a libertarian “hissy fit”, to quote his phrase.

Although, I rather suspect that for many, “hissy fit” is simply a demonstration they don’t agree with. Which was why I mentioned those pro-Remain demos in what I wrote at Samizdata. I disagreed with those demos, yet they were clearly demos, and they clearly will have consequences, even if not those that the demonstrators will be fully satisfied with, of just the sort that Perry described.

Perry also mentioned how getting to know this lady had informed his thinking on these matters. He zeroed in on this sentiment, that I also mentioned in that earlier posting:

Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

In other words demos say, if only to the demonstrators, but typically also to many sympathetic but timid onlookers: You are not the only ones thinking like this.

White vans five years ago

Yes, around five years ago, or so, I had a phase of photoing vans, white vans in particular. I seem to recall some Labour woman politician having a go at them, and I think that pissed me off and I had in mind to stick up lots of white van photos to glorify them and to unglorify her.

That lot is just the photos I photoed in the one month of July 2016. Which means there are a great many more such in the archives of around that time.

But then, I kind of lost interest in these things. Somewhere in my somewhere-on-that-spectrum mind of mine is the notion that these collections only work if the basic shape of the things in question is the same every time, with only the decor being different. That is certainly the rule I follow with taxis. Taxis come in several different shapes, but I only photo one shape. The others don’t appeal.

One of the above white vans (photo 20) isn’t even white. I include this van because I like it, what with it being parked under one of the stands at the Oval, and it’s nearly white. I recently heard Surrey cricket commentator Mark Church describe this colour as “duck egg blue”. He was talking about the Surrey shirts for T20 games, but they looked like they were the exact same colour.