A choice that we all face these days

Yes, a favourite photo of mine, at the opposite end of the spectrum mentioned in this posting from the photo in that posting, is this one:

I originally posted this photo, photoed in WH Smith Liverpool Street Station, at the old blog in January 2008. For me it remains as delicious and fresh as it was on the day I first photoed it.

I also copied the old posting across to this blog. I think the photo deserves the double immortality that BMNB may yet confer upon it.

Stormtrooper in Croydon

Here’s the other odd thing I saw in Croydon yesterday, and after that, I’ll concentrate on the more serious stuff, the sort that will require an essay. So, here’s the weirdness:

On the left, well, that was the scene the friend I was meeting up with (a regular commenter who can decide for himself whether to be identified here by name or not) saw, when he said “Oh look, there’s a stormtrooper in one of those windows.” Not having his eyesight I had to be told where to point my camera, photo the photo, the photo in the middle of the above three, and then satisfy, myself by expanding the photo on my camera screen, that there was indeed a stormtrooper to be seen. And photo three is the money shot, or would have been if I were the kind of photoer who ever got paid money for photoing which of course I am not.

Without my friend to tell me about this stormtrooper, I could never have photoed it, because I would never have seen it. So, thanks mate.

And now that I know about this stormtrooper, I can go a-googling and ask: Is this stormtrooper one of these guys?

Coming soon (I hope (I promise nothing)): The tallest tower in Croydon, in colour. Also, another look at No. 1 Croydon.

A Helter Skelter ghost sighting in Croydon

Yesterday I visited Croydon, and one of the more entertaining things I saw and photoed was this, of the frosted glass windows of the exit that rises slowly up from East Croydon station platform towards the main entrance:

Which is London’s most remarkable Big Thing? The Shard? The Gherkin? The Wheel? The BT Tower? The Walkie Talkie? The new and biggest one one still known only as 22 Bishopsgate? I hereby nominate: The Helter Skelter.

The two remarkable things about the Helter Skelter, a representation of which is to be seen in the above photo on the right, is, first, that it was never built, but, second, that the way it would have looked if it had been built still lingers. It certainly lingers here.

The expression “can’t wait” is overused, by people who can wait easily enough but who would rather they weren’t having to. But, those designers whose job it was at that particular moment in London’s history to plug London, by reproducing selections of its Big Things, actually could not wait until the Helter Skelter was finished before they started incorporating its presumed likeness into their designs.

Vauxhall views two decades apart

In 2000, I was mostly using my very first digital camera, a Minolta Dimage, to photo people, but I did also photo a few buildings, such as these ones. This is Vauxhall, seen from downstream:

And here are the same buildings, with recent additions and subtractions, as best I could find in my more recent photographic efforts, in 2020:

The two spots I was standing at are by no means identical. Different bridges, I’m pretty sure. And the angle is somewhat different. But, I hope you get the pictures.

The trick of photoing buildings, for me, is to focus not so much on the unchanging monuments, but for me somehow to divine which architectural scenes are about to change.

Failing that, as I typically do, I need to get lucky. And I got lucky-ish with these.

Cropping was involved to create both of the above images.

Two favourite footbridges


They are both about the same size, and both, in my photos, pointing in the same direction. Otherwise they could hardly be more different.

On the left, a footbridge which forms part of the walk from the downstream footbridge beside Hungerford Bridge, which enables you to carry on walking a bit above ground until you get to Charing Cross Station. This is one of my favourite walks in all of London, perhaps partly because it is so very short.

And on the right, the footbridge across Floral Street that connects the Royal Ballet School to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This is not one of my favourite walks in London, despite being very short, because I can think of no way that I’d ever be allowed to walk this walk. I used to work in a bookshop that started out in Floral Street and then moved but only around the corner, so I used to see this little bridge often. I wondered how one might contrive actually walking across it and I still do. Getting to know some ballerinas would be a start, but only, I suspect, a start. Maybe they permit occasional tours at prearranged times, but I doubt it.

Both these photos were photoed early in 2004, with my Canon A70. This was around the time when I was just beginning to get the hang of how to photo London in a way that I liked.

I’m pretty sure I have shown these photos, or photos a lot like them, before, on one of my various blogs. No matter. These bridges are nice enough for me to be able to repeat myself about how nice they are.

Pavlova from a distance

If in doubt, here at BMNB, I go with Pavlova:

Okay, not bad. But the interesting thing is how far away I was. This next photo, done about a minute later to emphasise this, shows that we are actually way down Victoria Street, next to House of Fraser, quite a bit further away than, say, Westminster Cathedral:

That vertical smudge of sunshine between the big column in the foreground and the building on its left as we look is where a tiny and distant Pavlova was doing her dance. My eyesight is such that although I knew that’s where she was, I couldn’t properly see her.

But my camera, a rather recently acquired Nikon B700 (and yes mine is red also), was able to see Pavlova very clearly. Although, the slightest motion of the camera meant I completely lost her from the picture, so I had to have several goes at photoing her before I got what I wanted.

I wish I could tell you that these photos were photoed in the last day or two, but sadly, they were not. Last September.

Out east in 2012

I haven’t been getting out much lately, so am instead exploring my photo-archives.

These from March 24th 2012, when I journeyed (and not for the first time) out east to the Victoria Docks, in the vicinity of the then-under-construction Emirates Air-Line, which is that strange ski lift that goes across the River:

As you can see, I especially like the cranes. And the barbed wire. There were even pylons to be seen. Best of all is that newish (-ish now) footbridge.

I used to love that place, and especially then, with all manner of new stuff going on. Memo to self: go back and see how things there have changed. Because, they have surely changed quite a lot.

And this could be the biggest change of the lot. Apparently, spurred on by TikTok, people have recently been riding on the ski lift in large numbers. There’s a first.

London Fields creatures

And I don’t mean creatures to be seen in the fields of London. I mean creatures to be seen in a particular place in London called London Fields. Until recently, I knew London Fields only as the title of a Martin Amis book.

But, earlier this month I journeyed out to London Fields, to see it and to meet up with a friend.

And I photoed creatures.

Photo 1:

The creature with the devilish horns being the bit that particularly interested me. The rest is, to me, incomprehensible.

Even more impressive, creature-wise, was this:

In this we observe two creatures combining to mimic a third creature. Rather good, I think. I wouldn’t want to shrink it and have it permanently on a wall in my home. It’s not that good. But I like that I could photo it.

Here is the original photo from which the above square was picked out, which included a human:

London seems to be divided into places where this sort of thing is allowed, and even encouraged, and the far greater number of places where it is very much not allowed. I live in the latter sort of place, which is duller, but maybe also safer.

London Fields, the book (see above), is a tale about a murder.


Michael Jennings, who is the technical curator of this blog, likes cheese, so maybe he can tell me how I managed to photo this photo:

The thing is, I remember seeing this in front of me recently, just as my train was about to depart from Victoria, and I photoed it, going to a bit of trouble to get it nicely lined up. But the train departed before I was able to discern what the original origin of the message was. “INTERNATIONAL” is just about decypherable from my photo. “CHEESE” is definite.

But who or what was promoting INTERNATIONAL CHEESE? Google google. It’s this. It’s a shop, at Victoria Station. That’s got to be what I photoed.

The Tripadvisor reviews at the other end of that link are what you might call “mixed”. I no longer trust the Internet when pseudonymous people review products, so that severely negative review first up means, to me, nothing.

A strange discovery on the other side of the River from me

Just over a year ago, in May 2020, I went walkabout, across the River, after Lockdown had really started to kick in. At the time, I wrote here about how I crossed Lambeth Bridge, and then …:

… wandered in the general direction of Waterloo, and made a strange discovery, which I’ll tell you all about some other time, maybe, I promise nothing.

Just as well I said that, because nothing further materialised here about that strange discovery, until now:

I love that these galleries are now so much easier to contrive, and so much easier to click through for those on the receiving end of them, than they used to be with the Old Blog.

As for the photos in this gallery, I remember at the time thinking that maybe if I wrote here at the time about this discovery and how I wandered about in it, I might get myself into trouble, for, I don’t know, trespassing or something. The place was totally deserted, and I remember getting the distinct impression at the time that the front gate at the top of those stairs was only unlocked because whoever should have locked it forgot to lock it. So, I hesitated to show photos like these, and then the photos sank into the ocean that is my photo-archives, and I forgot about them.

I suspect that my then undiagnosed lung cancer was already making me a much more timid soul, less inclined to just barge into whatever places I felt like barging into (provided only that nobody physically stopped me), and more inclined to fear being filmed and then arrested. Silly, but as you get older, the answers you get when you ask yourself the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” start getting a lot worse. At that stage, I was still willing to do dodgy things, but was already reluctant to brag about having done them here. What if some legit inhabitant of this strange place were to google its name and encounter all my photos? What if I then got blamed, however unfairly, for some disaster that happened there, at around the time I visited?

Until I stumbled upon it, and stumbled up the stairs into it, I had no idea at all that this place even existed. I imagine these “creative” little districts eking out their existence where the owners are still making up their minds what they will really be doing with their property, and in the meantime could use a trickle of rent from the kind of people who are trying to get started in this or that line of “creative” business, but who don’t have a lot of heavy and complicated kit that they’ll have to shift if they make any sort of success of what they’re doing and then need to move somewhere smarter. I plan to return there to observe any changes I can, although I promise nothing.

In among all the creatives, there seemed to be some railway inspectors of some sort. Like I say, a very strange place indeed.

In several of the murals, there are strange creatures, as well as people. Hence this posting appearing on a Friday.