A year ago yesterday I was in St Cyprien, and a year ago today I was in Perpignan. However, I was in Perpignan again on January 9th of this year, when the weather was much better and hence so were my photos. Here is a selection of the photos I took then, there:
Not only was the weather better last January than it had been in April of last year; there was also a temporary Wheel in place (photos 20, 21, 22, 26). And (see photo 9) there was an exhibition on of some photos by former President of France Jacques Chirac. How about that?
A feature of any visit to Perpignan is, or should be, a journey to the department store called Galeries Lafayette (the big white building in photo 18), the views from the top of which are excellent (photos 19-28). The views on the way down from the stairs are pretty good too (photos 28-30).
Other than that, it was the usual. Amusing signs in French, roof clutter, strange plants, pollarded trees, various sorts of sculpture ancient and modern, bridges, left over Christmas signs, a motorbike. All good stuff, and all looking much better in the much better light there was in Perpignan on January 9th. Click and enjoy.
I photoed lots of photos of the statues in Parliament, of Churchill, Mandela, Gandhi, Smuts, Lloyd George and the rest of them. Trouble was, the light was coming from the wrong direction for a lot of them.
My favourite statue photo I photoed yesterday was actually this one, of Monty:
He was facing in the right direction to get some light on his face.
But I think another got luckier with Monty is that I’ve photoed this statue a lot already, because it’s one of my favourites in all of London.
As is the one nearby of Slim, who yesterday was looking like this:
In between those two statues, there’s a statue of Brooke, which I am not quite so fond of. Nothing against Brooke, just that the statue looks, to me, a bit unconvincing, more like a caricature than a likeness.
Harsh sunlight can sometimes turn the subtleties of sculpture into a mixture of uninformative black and equally uninformative white, so the diminished but more ambient light I had to make do with may have helped, although a bit more ambient light would have helped. And I fear that in any sort of light, the inscription on the base of the statue (in photo 2) would have been a photographic struggle. You can just about make out that William Huskisson was born in 1770 and died in 1830, but if you care about these dates, you’d probably want to check them out.
The anonymous writer of this piece about the Huskisson Statue refers to it as “rather Roman”. This is like calling an F1 racing car “rather fast” or the Milky Way “rather big”. Huskisson dates from the era when politicians liked to dress up as Romans for portraits and statues, an era that ended with the mid-nineteenth century expansion of the franchise. At which point politicians stopped dressing in a way that emphasised how different and aristocratic and educated and virtuous and special they were, and switched to being ceremonially portrayed in the way that they actually dressed in their regular lives, i.e. a smarter version of the way everyone dressed. “I’m special” turned into “I’m one of you”.
Huskisson’s main claim to fame now is that he was the first mere person ever to be killed in a railway accident. Lots of people must already have died in the course of constructing railways and locomotives, but Huskisson was the first civilian, so to speak, to be killed by this newfangled technology.
More impressive to me is that, as much as he could manage to be within the limits of political necessity and ambition, Huskisson was an old-school classical liberal. At one point in his career, somebody tried to get him to impose a legally enforced minimum wage. Huskisson brushed the notion aside as foolishness. Good for him.
Here is what the Adam Smith Institute’s Madsen Pirie has to say about Huskisson.
In January 2016, I and a friend visited the top of the Walkie Talkie. And in April 2016, I posted one of the photos I took during that visit, the third of these three Walkie Talkie photos. Somewhat later, in September 2017, I posted quite a few more of the photos I took during that same visit, of my fellow photoers, surprise surprise. Galleries were harder to do and to view on the old blog, blah blah, reprise. And now that galleries are so much easier to do and view, here’s another clutch of photos from that day, this time showing what the inside of the top of Walkie Talkie is like.
Getting into the Walkie Talkie was quite a palaver, and I’ll bet that hasn’t got any easier. So lots of people who will never want to endure all this palaver to visit this place themselves might nevertheless appreciate being told what the inside of it looks like. So, here is this next clutch of photos:
When you google Walkie Talkie, you get lots of moaning from a few years back about how terrible it is. I love it. And I continue to tell all my friend, and you lot, that eventually it will be greatly loved. But, this evening anyway, I could find no one who agreed with me.
I’ve not being doing much out-and-abouting lately. But yesterday the weather looked good and I managed a photo-expedition. My odyssey was a familiar one. I walked past the Channel 4 TV headquarters building to Victoria Street, checked out the progress of The Broadway. (That seems to e its name, by the way. It’s not One Broadwy or Ten Broadway, just The Broadway.) Then I walked down Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square, and then across Westminster Bridge and along the South Bank, and then back across the River to Embankment Tube and home again.
But I knew there’d be new stuff to see, or maybe old stuff that I had seen many times before but not noticed. Stuff like … trees. Here are sixteen of the photos I photoed, involving trees:
Trees look as they do, especially when uninterrupted by leaves, not because trees naturally look like that, but because a not-that-small and very full-time army of tree barbers and tree surgeons (that being the word they prefer), caused them to be so. Every twist and turn of a branch is a decision made by someone wielding a chainsaw (this time click on “Gallery”) or commanding someone wielding a chainsaw. If trees ever do grow “naturally”, that too is a string of decisions that someone made and went on making. Every tree in London is a clutch of design decisions.
And as I say, no leaves. Which means that other things were to be seen also. The Broadway, the Wheel, the Crimea statue, stuff around Parliament Square (much of it smothered in scaffolding), the Wheel from closer up, Big Ben (smothered in scaffolding), the sign outside Foyles saying “FOYLES”, a big puddle, and so forth and so on. Lovely.
There’s a lot I could say, by way of a photo-essay, about these photoer photos. But, do you know what the best thing about them is, in my opinion? How good they are. Oh, technically, they’re a bit rubbish, but I don’t care about that. I just really like them. Even the one of me. But especially the one of the bloke lying face down on the ground playing a guitar behind his head.
Yes they do. Here are some I photoed on my recent trip to their country:
And here is a particularly interesting motorbike specimen, which I spotted inside a shop in Perpignan:
You see what they did there? They put a classic motorbike next to one of the great design classics of the twentieth century, the Barcelona Chair. What this says to me is: This motorbike is a work of art also. My photos are not works of art, on account of unwanted reflections, but they make the point I’m making well enough.
The best motorbike I encountered, and photoed with its owner’s proud permissions, was this one, photoed right at the end of my stay, while being driven back to Carcassone Airport:
The nearest thing to this bike I could find on the www was this. Not a perfect match, but an exact match on the colour scheme front.
I like to think that the French see something philosophical, Sartrian, existentialist, in their bikes. What with you riding a motorbike, today could be your last day alive! So climb on your bike and find your true self! Or something. I put this or something like it to a friend earlier this evening, and she said maybe they like bikes because unlike us lot here, they have roads where you can really ride motorbike on properly. Sadly, I think that makes more sense.
In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):
… Why do so many people take such delight in staring at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.
Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.
Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:
Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.
And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes: