Crane and shadow outside Victoria Station

I love a good crane, especially in these almost craneless times. And I also love a good shadow. So, you can imagine how much I appreciated what I saw, outside Victoria Station, this afternoon:

Today there was rain around mid day, followed by the brightest of bright sunshine. This is the best sort of sunshine there is, because the rain washes the air before the sun shines through it.

Also present in this photo is Pavlova, the ballerina on top of the Victoria Palace Theatre. This is a very good photo, of the crane and its shadow, but not of Pavlova. For Pavlova, Try one of these.

People gathering normally

Last Thursday, late afternoon, this comforting scene was to be observed (and photoed) by me, on the other side of Victoria Street from me and a short walk from Buckingham Palace. Human beings, without muzzles on, enjoying each other’s company and drinking drinks:

Will normality ever fully return? I’ll believe what I see. But seeing that was definitely something.

Death matters and so does Surrey doing well

Earlier today I had a really serious phone conversation with my Designated Best Friend about palliative care, being kept alive with scary electric shock machines (which my DBF said actually work very rarely and are far more likely to inflict painful and permanent damage like a busted rib). In short, it was a conversation about my death. And I entirely saw the point of this conversation and was very grateful to my DBF for having it with me. I need to say what sort of death I would like, before it actually starts seriously happening and I become incapable of saying anything coherent about what I want. So, important stuff.

Problem was, I had been keeping half an eye on the county cricket, and in particular on this game between Hampshire and Surrey. Surrey have had a wretched season so far, and Hampshire have been doing really well, so that was going to start badly for Surrey and get worse and worse as the next few days went by. But I was paying attention anyway, because, you know, you never know.

So, Surrey had won the toss and had put Hampshire in to bat. But then, after nearly an hour of further Surrey underachievement, and for the first time this season after three dud games, Surrey suddenly started doing really, really well. Right in the middle of the serious phone conversation, this is what I observed, on Cricinfo, being done by two Surrey bowlers called Clark and Clarke to the hitherto formidable Hampshire middle order:

For non-cricket people, that is very successful bowling by Surrey and very unsuccessful batting by Hampshire, who, in the space of thirteen deliveries, went from 44 for 2 to 44 for 6. Until this exact moment, Surrey had not been taking nearly enough wickets or taking them nearly soon enough. Then, in a blink, all that completely changed.

I want to insist that I never lost the thread of the serious conversation I was having with DBF: No please don’t resuscitate me if I have a heart attack in a hospital, but yes indeed, I’d rather die at home but how much might that end up costing, given that professional care will surely be needed?, and no you’re right it’s important to discuss all this beforehand so thanks for doing this. But also, strictly inside my head you understand, I was screaming to myself: Hey look, Surrey are doing really well!!! Look at that!!! Four wickets for no runs!!! On the first morning!!! Wow!!! Yeah yeah, I’m going to be dying soon and I know I have to get that sorted, but … wow!!! I even managed to do the above screen capture, without at any time failing to be conversationally coherent and serious with DBF about my death.

This is what I love about following sport, especially the way I have done for the last decade and a half, at a distance, via The Internet. Great moments in sport, like this moment when Surrey Actually Started Doing Well in 2021, intersect with how your life was at the time. I still remember that 1981 miracle Ashes test match fondly, and listening to it on the radio in a van with which I was (very happily) delivering number plates, a radio which only worked when the van’s engine was not running, which complicated things in a delightful way that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. Well, now, here’s another of these classic sport-meets-real-life moments. Life doesn’t get much more real than when you’ve been told that “for as long as I live” isn’t actually going to be that long, and sport doesn’t get much better than when your team has been firing blanks for a month and then suddenly does something like what’s in the picture above.

By the end of the day Surrey were totally on top. Surrey’s bowlers, particularly Clark and Clarke (there were even three Hampshire batters who got out caught Clarke bowled Clark), were unstoppable, and Hampshire’s first innings total came to a mere 92. Hampshire’s much feared foreign pace men, Abbot and Abbas, then had to bowl in quite different conditions after lunch and achieved only the one Surrey wicket in the whole of the rest of the day. Surrey are already ahead on first innings and should – should -now win comfortably. Even Hashim Amla, who got 0 and 0 in the previous game, got some runs, along with Burns, and both could make more tomorrow.

All my life people have been telling me stories of old men dying with smiles on their faces, merely because their sports team was doing well when they died. Would I still feel that way about sport when death stared me in the face? So far: yes.

Public ancientism and private modernism in Highgate

One of the themes I believe I have encountered in the course of my architecture-spotting is the one I’ve been calling The Triumph of Modernism Indoors. These photos, taken from a piece about a house conversion that’s just been done in Highgate, illustrate that this may not be quite the right distinction.

Here’s a piece of classic ancientist victory, in the form of a deceptively normal looking house in Highgate. It’s had a total makeover, but you wouldn’t know this just looking at it from the street outside:

Indoors, however, modernism reigns supreme:

However, modernism has also made its presence felt out of doors, round the back, in the garden, which passers-by do not see:

The continuing dominance (not total victory by any means) of ancientism has been in “public” rather that “outdoors”, and the triumph of modernism has been in “private” rather than merely indoors. The point being that the outdoor triumphs of modernism are tending particularly to happen also in the private bits of outdoors.

What’s going on here is that the “private citizen” wants modernism in those bits of his place that he totally controls, because modernism makes more sense, and is cheaper and quicker to do. But, “public citizens” don’t care for the way modernism looks, especially if it replaces ancientism in the public realm. So the public bits of a building, if they are now ancientism, cannot be smashed to bits and replaced by modernism, if preserved ancientism is an option, as it was for this ancientist Highgate home. But if the private citizen himself positively likes the public appearance of modernism, he can do modernism outdoors also, provided he only does it in the private bits of outdoors, the bits that he experiences but which passers-by do not.

Everything will hinge on whether an ancientist house with a modernist extension out the back in the garden will sell for the same silly money as a house with no modernist stuff outdoors in the garden.

I’m guessing it will so sell, provide only that the extension does the job without silly things like a leaking roof.

I am zeroing in on another over-arching fact about “private householders”. They’d like a house that looks publicly nice, but when economic push comes to economic shove, what matters is whether their newly acquired house works properly, without having to be expensively mended. For all their aesthetic tastes. their aesthetic tastes don’t actually matter, or rather, don’t matter enough to have real world consequences. What does matter is that their machine for living in should tick over correctly, the way a properly functioning machine should.

This increasingly “private” blogging that I’ve been doing for about the last fifteen years is really starting to achieve things for me.

Surrey pasted

Ouch:

Surrey overnight looked like they could maybe make a fight of it, but by lunch they’d been totally blown away.

Following sport has not been so good lately, for me. Various England cricket teams, after a good start, getting beaten in India in all formats. England in the Six Nations. Spurs being Spurs.

And now this. Surrey, having Spurs money and Spurs talent but now getting (with apologies to 6k) Sheffield United results.

LATER: On the other hand, Patrick Crozier will be very happy about Watford getting promoted straight back to the Premier League. And in addition to supporting the England rugby men I also support the England rugby ladies, and also the Harlequins rugby men. So, the news got better as the day went on.

SUNDAY: Here is how Ravindra Jadeja ended the innings of the Chennai Super Kings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore:

Thirty seven off the over. RCB never got close. Surrey’s Sam Curran plays (rather effectively) for the Super Kings, so that cheered me up.

On the other hand

Vincent House with tree shadows – Vincent Square with cricketers

Today I forced myself out, to post a letter which had to be posted, something I don’t think I’ve done in years.

My guess as to where there was a posting box, or whatever they are called, took me to the nearest post office that I am aware of, via Vincent Square, which I hoped would be looking good in the sunshine. It was:

That building is Vincent House, which sounds and looks like it might be important, but it’s just a block of flats.

And this is the middle of Vincent Square:

In earlier times, on a day like this, I would have gone a-wandering and a-photoing, but now, I’m afraid I feel the cold, and although delightfully sunny it was still cold. Also, all walks now take twice as long. So I posted that letter, and also did some shopping and then went straight back home. Shopping being another thing that has had to change recently. Big and occasionally has had to be replaced by less but more frequently, because there are limits to how much stuff I can now carry in anything resembling comfort, especially up my stairs.

Just before I went on this expedition, I got a phone call from one of the Marsden exercise experts. Apparently exercise is good for you. But he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Life goes on.

A view from The Rooftop

Dined last night at this place. I photoed lots of photos, the four below showing the view that I later zoomed in on:

The day was warm, what with it being cloudless. But the evening got cold, ditto. Which, I fear, has somewhat prolonged the process of me recovering from my second Covid jab last week. Now have headache. So that will have to be it for today.

A gallery of Michael Jennings photos

For the last few weeks, a strange glitch has been afflicting this blog, involving spacing. If I stick up just the one photo, stretching all the way across the width of the blog’s column of text, all is well. But if I stick up a gallery of photos, which is something I very much like doing, there has been a problem. Too much space was suddenly, ever since a recent software update or some such thing, created below the gallery. Any attempt I made to remove this space only resulted in further spatial havoc below, in the form of too much space between subsequent paragraphs of text.

But now, either because the guardians of this software have sorted this out, or because the technical curator of this blog, Michael Jennings, has sorted this out, things are back to how they were. Good. Very good. I attach great importance to how this blog looks. If it looks wrong, I hate that. It demoralises me and makes me want to ignore the damn thing rather than keep on updating it the way I actually do. This was especially so given that galleries look so very good when they are working properly.

Well, as I say, things have now reverted to their previous state of visual just-so-ness. And I will now celebrate, with yet another gallery:

The above gallery, however, is not a gallery of my photos, but rather a gallery of photos photoed by Michael Jennings, all, I believe, with his mobile phone. Not having got out much lately, I have found the photos Michael has photoed while taking exercise, and then stuck up on Facebook, reminding me of how my beloved London has been looking, to be a great source of comfort during the last few months. And I actually like photoing in his part of London more than I do in my own part. This may just be familiarity breeding something like contempt, but is still a definite thing with me.

I started out having in mind to pick just four photos, which makes a convenient gallery. Then I thought, make it nine. I ended up with twenty four. It would have been twenty five (also a convenient number), except that one of the ones I chose was a different shape, which might have complicated things, so I scrubbed that one from the gallery.

But you can still look at that one. Because none of this means that you need be confined only to my particular favourites. Go here and keep on right clicking to see all of them.

I have displayed my picks here in chronological order, the first of the above photos having been photoed in October of last year. The final photo (which is what you get to if you follow the second link in the previous paragraph), of the church, which I learned of today, and which is the only one done outside London, is something of a celebration, of the fact that Michael is now able to travel outside London without breaking any rules, or such is my understanding. (Plus, I like those unnatural trees (see also photo number 9)).

Patrick Crozier, the man I do recorded conversations with (see the previous post), is a particular fan of Viscount Alanbrooke, Churchill’s long suffering chief military adviser during WW2. So he’ll like that this church is where Alanbrooke is buried.

Tokyo – an aerial photo and a comparative map

Luka Ivan Jukic:

There’s cities, there’s metropolises, and then there’s …:

… Tokyo.

It’s that mountain at the back that really makes this photo. That and the extraordinary amount of architectural detail.

And then, from the responses, there’s this:

A century ago, London was, or so my TV told me last night, the biggest city on earth.

I blame the Green Belt. This belt (noose?) should be converted into a ring of parks, all surrounded by more London.

CultuRRal AppRRopRRiation

Photoed by me on Wednesday, in the South Ken area:

This is not what Rolls Royces looked like when I was a kid, but it is a Rolls Royce nevertheless. It comes of being owned by Germans, as the formerly so very British RR, the car bit, is these days. Personally I think the latest lot of Rolls Royces look as good as Rolls Royces have ever looked, in their oligarchical and rather scary way. They exude a definite air of New Money which is quite ready to shoot you to keep hold of itself, the way the old British Rolls Royces never did. But although RRs give off a different atmosphere now, at least it’s an atmosphere. Bland they are not.

The above vehicle combines being a Rolls Royce with being a Chelsea Tractor. So, a Chelsea TRRactoRR.