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.
Yesterday’s Duck & Waffle socialising was with, get this, GodDaughter1 and GodDaughter2, These two favourite people of mine had, until yesterday, only met very fleetingly during parties or events at my home, and never properly connected. Yesterday, they got to really talk. And it says everything about what mattered to me about this meetup, and what didn’t, that I actually forgot to bring my regular camera with me, and had to make do with my mobile, which I had with me not to photo but to ensure that we all met up successfully. Which to cut a long and boring story down to its proper size, … we did.
Even more remarkably, I really wasn’t more than mildly bothered to have forgotten the proper camera, because I reckoned the mobile would be okay for my purposes, and I reckon it was. Here, as not promised yesterday evening, are my favourite photos from yesterday, of favourite place of mine, London, as seen from above:
These views could only be photoed through plate glass, so there were many reflections getting in the way. But, you get the pictures. Roof clutter heaven. There were some clouds in the sky (see photo 1), unlike on Saturday, but these were few and small.
The background noise in the place was louder than I’d have liked. It meant I had to shout a bit, and that now makes me cough. On the other hand, we probably had the best table in the house from the views point of view, looking out west, north and east, from its spot on in the far left corner of the floor. Plus, there was a bar which we later visited which had windows looking south, to other nearby Big Things, most notably the Gherkin, but also the top of 22 Bishopsgate, the D&W being at the top of 110 Bishopsgate.
Both these Bishopsgate towers are so bland that they neither of them, to my knowledge, have yet been awarded nicknames. But, 22 Bishopsgate. which is the biggest City of London Big Thing by quite a way, is growing on me. The view of it from the main exit of Liverpool Street Station is very fine, especially in the slightly misty sunshine that prevailed yesterday.
The Tower of London, to be seen in photo 8 above, the one with the Gherkin dominating the foreground, used once upon a time to be the biggest Big Thing in London. Now look at it. Tiny. Tiny even compared to Tower Bridge, let along all the other bigger Things.
And for me, another highlight is the way that the BT Tower stands out west, in photo 6, in isolated splendour. Isolated, I presume, because nothing is allowed to get in the way of all the signals it sends out and receives.
Castelnou is a small and impossibly picturesque hill town in the lower reaches of the Pyrenees, in the far south of France. GodDaughter2’s parents and I went by car, just over five years ago now, in May 2016, to check it out. And yes, the weather was as marvellous in Castelnou as it has recently been unmarvellous in London.
Nowadays, I find that my expeditions have as their officially designated destination a spot where I have arranged to meet up with a friend and exchange chat, rather than just a particular physical place I especially want to check out. But as my death approaches, not as fast as I feared it would last Christmas but still faster than I had previously supposed that it would, I find that mere Things, in London or anywhere else, aren’t enough to make me get out of the house at the time previously determined. Partly this is because if I fail to arrive at the Thing at the planned time, the Thing won’t ring me up and ask me where I got to, whereas people are inclined to do just that. And partly because the Internet tells you lots about Things, whereas actually meeting people bestows knowledge and pleasures more profound and subtle than you could obtain by any other communicational means.
The point of this Castelnou expedition was that it was with GodDaughter2’s parents, not that it was to Castelnou. Castelnou was just an excuse for us all to spend time with each other, plus it gave us things to talk about.
But of course, once in Castelnou, I photoed photos galore, of which these are just a few:
A few more things to say.
First, there are cats and dogs involved (as well as a bird statue), hence this posting appearing here on a Friday. The cats were very friendly and sociable. The dogs were more cautiously proprietorial, but none were aggressive. Which I think reflects well on us tourists. We all behave well towards these creatures, and they behaved towards us accordingly.
Second, what’s wrong with being a tourist? I am sure that “tourists” have been featured on the popular TV show Room 101. But if I was ever on Room 101 I would want to banish from the world “tourists who complain about all the other tourists”. Tourism is a fine thing, enjoyable for those of us who do it or we wouldn’t keep doing it, and profitable for those who cater to our needs. Many good things happen because of us tourists. Besides all the deserving people who get to earn a living from it, there are the conversations that tourists have with the locals whom they encounter, and with each other, which can sometimes have have wonderfully creative consequences. Many an economic success story has started with a conversation involving tourists. Tourists bring the world, as it were, to particular places, and places into contact with other places, and thereby are able to provoke creative thoughts that would otherwise not have occurred to anyone.
Does tourism “spoil” places like Castelnou? Hardly. I’ll bet you Castelnou is a much happier, prettier and more interesting place than it was before it started attracting tourists.
And finally, Castelnou is a fine example of an aesthetic process that fascinates me more and more, which is the way that when an architectural style first erupts, it is hated, but then when it settles back into being only a few surviving ruins, people find that same style, to quote my own words in the first sentence of this posting, impossibly picturesque. Castelnou began as a castle, which then gathered dwellings around it. And you can bet that the people in the vicinity of this castle hated it and feared it, that being the whole idea. But once the castles stopped being built in such numbers and when the castles that survived began turning into ruins, they then also turned into objects of affection, first for locals, and then, even more, for visitors from many miles away.
Tangenting somewhat, I was yesterday predicting that the next wave of architectural fashion is going to be a lot more colourful. And it is. But, lots of people will, for as long as this new fashion lasts and seems to be on the march (the military metaphor is deliberate), hate that fashion, and regret the passing of the drearily monochromatic tedium that they now only grumble about (because that is now still on the march).
Is Castelnou perchance the French, or maybe the Catalan, for Newcastle? Sounds like it to me.
I am awaiting warmer weather, in the hope that I will then feel up to taking a photo-walkabout, somewhere in London town.
Meanwhile here are some photos from a walkabout I did, walking (about) from the Angel Tube to the Barbican, as late sunshine was replaced by early moonshine, back in April of 2016:
The final photo there is of how a stretch of Oxford Circus Tube was looking on that day.
The lady seen smiling through a window of reflections (photo 10) is the then only very recently (March 31st 2016) deceased Zaha Hadid (as you can maybe guess from photo 11). This was the lady whose buildings only had straight lines in them at all because people will insist that the floors they walk about on and work on are mostly flat rather than curving up and down. Clients eh? Philistines the lot of them. ZHA has (or had in 2016) a building in Goswell Road, and I walked right past it that day, and also had a nose around in it. I remember being surprised, because I had no idea this place even existed.
See also the photo of another portrait picture, this time of actor Charles Dance, which I photoed on this very same walkabout.
Chaos! Modern Art, only for real! I think it’s a coffee place of some kind,, or maybe a hairdo place that also sells coffee. There are a couple of Brian Micklethwaits in there, reflected in the window, and in a mirror behind the window. (I photo myself instead of photoing strangers.)
And, there’s this building …:
… which used to be the Office for National Statistics, until that enterprise moved to South Wales. Since then, I don’t know who has been occupying it. Some even spookier government enterprise or enterprises is my guess. Somehow it doesn’t look like the sort of building that would make regular people very welcome. Too much like a Modernistical version of a medieval fortress. It looks like the sort of building with occupants who think that they might one day have to defend themselves against angry mobs.
A big part of my life now is my visits to the Royal Marsden Hospital on the Fulham Road. I’m talking about this building:
I show the above photo of the Marsden here. again, because I want now to draw your attention to the big square gap in the middle of this building, behind the main entrance at the front. This used to be an open square, not unlike other London Squares, although admittedly not nearly as spacious. But now it’s all been filled in, with a biggledy-piggledy huddle of small and mostly just rather functional buildings, which they put in the square because these buildings had to go somewhere and this was the only place they could fit them in. Like this:
I’m not going for artistic effect there, just trying to show you the sort of place I’m talking about.
The reason I was in the square was that I was visiting this place …:
… to have my heart scanned. (At the end of the scan, the guy said it seemed to be working fine, which was nice.) And this Markus Centre would appear to be one of the early square-violating buildings, erected as you can see in 1904. It is trying to look architecturally nice, in what now looks rather ancientist but which no doubt looked modern when first built. Nevertheless, this air of architectural show is undermined by the much more functional look of lots of other buildings which have since been inserted into the square, with lots of pipes and ducts showing, because why not? These buildings are here to do important jobs, not to look pretty. See also, the entire design of more recent hospitals.
The front of the Marsden is the usual piece of grandiose Victoriana, and I love it. But these photos I photoed today were of what you might call backstage architecture. Not basically there for show. There to get stuff done.
As with so much recent and especially “modern” architecture, it is very easy to get lost trying to find your way to the bit you want. Luckily the staff at the Marsden are unfailingly helpful when you ask the way. If they weren’t, and if there were not signs everywhere, the entire building would be a Kafkaesque nightmare. And especially this random clutch of buildings stuck down in the middle.
LATER: Actually, I think I may have been in the smaller square, off to the right. Which just shows you how easy it is to lose your bearings in this place.
Ah happy days, of the sort I spend just wandering about in London, photoing whatever I see that seems amusing, in whatever seem like amusing ways:
But sadly, these photos were not photoed today or yesterday or some such very recent day. On no. They were photoed on March 3rd 2012, in other words just over nine years ago. Because of the cold and the effort (both of which I feel more now) and because of Lockdown (which can actually be ignored but I don’t like the ubiquitous propaganda and pressure I feel when I do that (also a function of getting old (oldies being more nervous of these sorts of vague atmospherics))), I am now doing very little of this kind of thing. I hoping that may change in the summer.
I was using a then very recently acquired camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ150. My more recent cameras, an FZ200 and an FZ300, having been very similar to that one. Basically, around five or more years ago, they stopped improving such cameras, and threw all their money at the cameras in mobile phones. If they manage to beef up the zoom on those, I might very well make my next “camera” my next mobile, and forget about getting any sort of better “camera”. Just like millions of others.
So I was at Dezeen, checking if there’s been any big architecture lately (only in China), and I saw this photo:
And I assumed we were in Japan. New modernist white box building, yes. The Wires!!! in front of it, yes. Absolutely nothing said in the text about The Wires!!! But all this was happening in Seattle.
Why do I make such a fuss about The Wires!!!? It’s because the phenomenon of The Wires!!! is an extreme illustration of the matter of what is seen and what is not seen. The point about The Wires!!! is that they are literally not being seen. There they are. And the Real Photographers are definitely seeing The Wires!!! They put them centre stage. They are saying to the people who write these extraordinary pieces, about buildings with The Wires!!! all over them: Look, The Wires!!! Write something about The Wires!!! But no, the writers don’t see The Wires!!! Or if they do, their Editors are under strict orders not to see The Wires!!! They delete all mention of The Wires!!!
Cities, in particular, abound with things you are supposed to look at, and things that you are not supposed to look at. Like stage scenery that is there to be looked at, and the equipment that supports the scenery or in some way services the scenery, that you aren’t supposed to look at, or even to see. We all look at cities in this way. I do it. I still try to avoid looking at all the poles, for lighting and for signs, that sprout out of urban pavements. (Memo to self: Photo photos that put these things centre stage, in the manner of the above photo of The Wires!!!))
What’s strange about the The Wires!!! phenomenon is that there is a stand-up fight going on between the people supplying the photos, and the people commentating, at Dezeen anyway, on the photos. These Dezeen writers are either forbidden to see The Wires!!!, or, even weirder, they literally do not see The Wires!!!
The above photo, and the commentary on it, is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, of The Wires!!!, that I have so far encountered.
What we have here, photoed five years and a day ago, is one of those window cleaning cranes, and the Moon. In the first photo there, we see all the ingredients, but this is not the Photo itself. It is merely the photo with the ingredients that went into the actual Photo.
Very little is said about window cleaning cranes, and the aesthetics of window cleaning cranes. Yet they often become the biggest feature in a particular scene.
I just wrote the sentence: “There is nothing temporary about them”, concerning these window cranes, but that’s not right. Sometimes they reach up out of their buildings, spread themselves, and dominate the scene. But somethings they fold themselves up into almost nothing. Or, they literally hide themselves inside their buildings, and become nothing.
They are invisible to some, because if you pick the right moment, they are invisible, nearly so or completely so.