Yesterday I did some grumbling about the light and the weather on the day that Alastair and I went walkabout, exactly one week ago, from Blackheath to the River and then beyond. But as that day went on the light got a bit better, and when I tried photoing the Optic Cloak, that came out rather well:
It so happens that the day when I first properly noticed the Optic Cloak, January 17th 2019, was also a day when Alastair and I met up for drink+chat+walkabout, in Docklands. Later I continued walking on my own, and that was when I first set eyes on the Optic Cloak. If you want to know something of why I like this Thing so much, follow that link.
I photoed the above photo at pretty much the same time I photoed Nelson, who stands outside the Trafalgar Tavern. This Nelson is another of my very favourite pieces of sculpture in London. Which shows I’m not picky about style. Modern, trad, I just like what I like.
I’ve already done several photo-postings about that walk Alastair and I did, from Blackheath to the Dome. There was that posting that rhymed. There was a cat. There was that amazing photo of the River that Alastair did. There was Lord Nelson. Well, time for some photos taken at our Official Designated Destination. Our actual first thing we decided to visit which would supply me with plenty of photo-opportunities, after we had met up at Blackheath Station, was this:
Beyond the Point Hill sign is The Point. We got to that by walking up … well, here are a couple of maps. On the left, how to get from Blackheath Station to The Point. And on the right, why you would bother, the point of The Point being what you can see from The Point:
The point of this first photo is to explain why the photos that follow are the sort that you might not consider to be that great:
This was not the first photo I photoed from The Point, but it makes my point, which is that what you can see from The Point is most of it a really long way away. The photos that follow are all very zoomy.
For me the most striking Things to be seen were the Docklands Towers. There are now quite a lot of them, compared to how many there were when I vaguely recall last visiting this spot.
First, two views of the entire Docklands Cluster:
And next up, a couple of close-ups of this same cluster:
The light could have been better, but it was what it was.
I really like how Docklands is turning out. One or two of the towers there have a bit of distinction about them, especially One Park Drive. But the sum is greater than the parts, I think. This is because almost all these towers go straight up. There are no Gherkins, Cheesegraters, Scalpels, Walkie-Talkies or Cans of Ham. Just gravity following towers done in the most efficient way possible. And the result is a classic spontaneous order of skyscrapers, all done in the modern vernacular. Without gravity, there’d be little logic. But with gravity, and without the starchitectural urge to defy it, it is all starting to look rather impressive. I like the City, with all its weirdness and eccentricity, but I’m glad London also has a classic skyscraper cluster in the form of Docklands. It can only grow and only get more impressive.
I like the idea of people looking at photos of it, and saying: Where’s that? “London.” London? I’d never have guessed.
Off to the right, we can see the Dome:
The stuff to the left of the Dome is the muddle on the other side of the River, to the east of Docklands. The sooner that muddle gets gobbled up by the Docklands Tower Cluster the better. To the right of the Dome, south of it, on the Greenwich Peninsular, there’s already more stuff rising up, with more to come.
Off to the left, all the eccentricity of central London is duly on show, but even further away:
Let’s take closer-up looks at bits of that:
The photo on the right is a different photo. But the image on the left is a detail cropped out of the bigger and more panoramic shot. In that left hand shot you can clearly see the BT Tower in the distance there, as also One Blackfriars, looking very squat and far less elegant than it might have. For which, Alastair reminded me, we can thank Prince Charles.
And speaking of way in the distance, Alastair also helped with this next photo. Basically, he directed it and I just pushed the button, what with his eyesight now being so much better than mine:
Now that I’m home and looking at a screen twenty inches or so away from me, I can clearly see both The Wheel, and … the new Wembley Arch. I could dimly perceive the Wheel on the day, but the Wembley Arch I totally took on trust. Yet, there it is, way off in the distance on the right, being hovered over, like waiters, by two cranes.
And on the right, a new central London architectural eccentricity, in the form of that strange white triangle that is often to be seen now in photos of London from the south east. It looks like something you might click on to get video to play. But that’s the Scalpel.
So, there it is. That’s how the Big Things of London are/were looking during the Lockdown of 2020. Will London continue to develope, or will it pause for a decade? Or longer? We shall see. Or I will. I hope.
Memo to self: Go back there on a sunnier day. In a few weeks time, after it’s cooled down a bit.
A few days ago, I walked beyond the top end of Victoria, beyond Victoria Station, at the top end of Grosvenor Gardens, and I saw this:
But it was getting dark when I first photoed the above scene, so this afternoon I went back, to see if I could do better. And I think I did. Roof clutter plus The Wheel. I love roof clutter, and I love to photo The Wheel in unobvious ways, that being a view of The Wheel that no longer exists. So The Wheel, only just visible above some roof clutter. Just the thing.
While searching out the exact best spot to photo photos like that one, I moved in the opposite direction of The Wheel, so as to see more of The Wheel. I found myself in a place. A place called Hobart Place. And looking back along Hobart Place, I not only got the above photo, but also discovered another view, which I had not been expecting:
Not so long ago you could see the Shard from just outside Victoria Station, looking down Victoria Street, but those days are now gone, with the new office blocks that have been built on the right side of Victoria Street looking down it, just past Strutton Ground. But it turns out that you can see the Shard from Hobart Place. For the time being, anyway.
The top of the Shard is a bit of a muddle, but it is a very recognisable muddle.
Here’s a photo I took which combines both the above views:
I should probably have another go at that one. But, you can just about make out those two Big Things, above all the stuff in the foreground. What that big grey building in the middle with the particularly excellent roof clutter, I do not know. Should be easy enough to find out, if I really want to.
In the second of the above photos, the one with the Shard in it, you can also see the rainbow flag featured in the first of these three photos, the one of the top of 55 Broadway. I promise nothing, but that’s a building that deserves a posting of its own.
All I knew about Wenlock and “Mandeville”, at the time, was that I did not approve, because I did not approve of the Olympics. My opinions on other matters determined my aesthetic preferences. But the aftermath of the Olympics was not the anticlimactic waste and squalour in the Olympic part of London that I then feared. So, now? They look like fun. How we humans do love our other creature friends, even when they’re totally made up.
It would appear that they used the same formula as they later did for buses and elephants, and suchlike. Lots and lots of copies, all identical in shape, but each decorated differently. How could I object to that?
Here we see a couple of Wenlocks, on the South Bank, in the Olympic summer of 2012, being photoed with tourists, by tourists. And by me.
There was a Wenlock decorated with an octopus and two fishes (one jelly, one regular), and I daresay with other aquatic creatures:
And there was a Wenlock dressed as Big Ben:
And, as a little image-googling quickly confirmed, many more besides.
I did some cropping to exclude some faces of kids, which meant Wenlock also had one of his faces sliced in half, while still keeping the excellent fifth finger of the left hand of a photoer. The lady waving her arms and legs in the air was making a bit of a public spectacle of herself, and is accordingly fair blogging game.
So, what with Fridays being my day for cats and other creatures, did Alastair and I encounter any cats, or other creatures, on our wanderings yesterday?
Well, there was this cat:
As you can see, I did a bit of a photo session with this cat. He/she was utterly unmoved, literally. Right next to the pavement, but not scared and not interested.
From which I conclude that this particular part of London is one of those keep-themselves-to-themselves sort of places. Nice but quiet. Not a lot of socialising in the street but nothing to frighten the humans, or the cats. If you’re a cat, humans tend to leave you be, but are not a threat.
I know, it’s very anecdotal. Maybe he/she was just getting old.
I spent this afternoon with Alastair, who often comments here. Great day. We walked from Greenwich to the Dome, with pauses for drink. So, am now knackered.
Which means that just one photo will have to suffice for now:
That was how the towers of Docklands were looking from the other side of the River, where there were flowers.
Good night. Sleep well. I will.
LATER: Well, I didn’t sleep that well, but I did get the starting point of our wanderings wrong. Blackheath, not Greenwich. Which makes it more than I said. Nobody else will care, but I like to get these things right, for myself.
One of the reasons I foresee a lot more colour in London in the next few years is that colour is all part of the imagery of thew political orthodoxies of our time.
These three photos, which I took yesterday, all illustrate this opinion of mine, or I think they do:
Left, 55 Broadway, flying a rainbow flag where previously flags like the London Underground flag or the Union Jack would flutter. Middle, a sign signifying the now near-universal worship of the NHS, outside the entrance to Westminster City Hall. Right, a rainbow very recently applied to the road. Who by? For how long? Not sure.
This sort of stuff is now the colour scheme of public virtue. These colours are not merely pretty. They mean something. They are all messages. Sexual identity flexibility. Ethnic diversity. These colours proclaim virtue, and denounce vice.
So, if you are against things being painted or decorated thus, that means you oppose virtue and you favour vice. This is why the colours will spread, because who’s going to stop this? Stopping it will mean favouring vice, and who’s going to do that?
Which sounds like a description of a particularly florid piece of writing about a pavement, but actually I’m talking about this:
Passages like that one are one of the oddities of modern urban life. They happen when a rather posh building is being erected right next to a narrow pavement, over which they want to get some serious work done, but beneath which they do not want to antagonise potential customers and word-of-mouthers thinking about and talking about the people doing the building, thereby threatening the subsequent selling of the apartments or offices in the building, when it’s finished. If the developers mess with the lives of passers-by while they’re building, that at least suggests that they might have a similarly casual attitude to their actual customers. There is so much money at stake here, so big a gap between feast or famine for the developers, that a bit of extra bother at ground level, just next to the site, is well worth going to. Factor in the recent intensification of health-and-safety, and the desire by developers to avoid damaging fights with local bureaucrats, and you have yourself an entire new urban form, the scaffolded pavement passage.
In this particular one, which is in Victoria Street next to and beneath The Broadway, the shininess of the cladding on the inside and the colourful lighting combine to striking effect. We’re looking south east towards Parliament Square. The right hand photo is basically a close-up of the middle of the left hand photo.
I took these photos yesterday afternoon. As with so much that happens in cities these day, if you don’t like it, you needn’t fret. It’ll soon be gone.
I continue to keep an eye out for taxis with adverts. But, taxis are a lot less busy at present, because of You Know What, and their adverts now reach far fewer people.
But, the above observations may be because I, although not myself overwhelmingly affluent, live in a rather affluent part of London. The rich are getting out a lot less these days. But in less posh parts of town, life is much more like normal because it damn well has to be, aside from all the face masks. Taxis are busier, and adverts on them count for more, than either now do in central London.
So it was that I recently spotted this fine example of the species, outside Finsbury Park Tube:
One of the trends in advertising nowadays is that, because people can now easily do no-extra-cost photoing of adverts and read them at their leisure, it therefore makes sense for at least some adverts to be far wordier and more information-packed. There is a definite whiff of that about this advert, I think.
Watch the video here. “The snag list eliminator is here to stay.”
The adverts to which Google will now subject me are about to get very weird.