All eyes are on Wembley just now. I am even now watching The Final, England being one up after half an hour, having been one up after two minutes of course. Italy are getting back into it though, and as if to prove the beginning of this sentence spot on, just when I typed in the previous comma but one, they nearly managed an equaliser. The England goalie was well beaten. But now England have just missed a goal, so as of now I have no idea how it will end.
Having nothing useful to contribute in the way of football analysis, I went looking for Wembley photos in the archives, and encountered this trove of photos, all named and numbered and resized and ready to go but which have yet to be displayed here, of what I still think of as the “new” Wembley, when they were busy constructing it, way back in 2005:
September 20th 2005 to be exact, again with the Canon S1 IS, which was as I’ve said earlier in the week, very hit or miss. But quite a hit that day, I think. I have seen a game inside this new stadium and it is a stadium much like any other. But that arch was a stroke of genius. If we still want to think about football in a few days time, I may gather together some more of my Wembley photos, this time of how it looks in the bigger London picture.
It’s now half time, and the BBC commetators are all explaining why England are winning. But Mancini will have plenty to say to his team, and Italy will surely be better than they were at the start of this.
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.
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.
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.
As foreseen yesterday, today was indeed, although well worth the strain, … strenuous. And I am now determined to keep this posting short, unlike last night’s exhausted ramble.
In among yesterday’s sunshine and strenuosity, I photoed these photos, of progress on the Broadway:
They’ll be posh flats, basically. I seem to recall recently wondering if this project would ever make a profit. Well, another photo I photoed yesterday was this, which has a bearing on that matter:
Although, that could just be inflation happening before anyone official is prepared to talk about it already being on that sort of scary scale. But, even if inflation is now surging, the fact that house prices are also surging suggests that houses, or in this case flats, are at least keeping their value.
These new places will not be to all tastes, because new buildings seldom are. But I think I’m going to rather like them. Apart from down at ground level, where all new modernist buildings are invariably dull and unwelcoming, on account of modernists not knowing how to do front doors, but refusing to do them anciently, which would cheer things up no end. But like I say, they refuse to do that.
And that’s your lot for today. I’m off to bed now.
It’s been a quiet day here at BMNB, which is not surprising given how wonderful the weather has been. Just the right amount of warm. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. Who, on a day like this, spends their time looking at a mere blog? Well, a few of you did, but fewer even than usual, and that’s absolutely fine by me given how fine the weather was today.
I journeyed out into south London to visit friends, the above photo being of a big biscuit tin they showed me, which provoked a brief discussion of the decidedly odd role played by biscuits in Roman Catholicism. I had not seen these friends face-to-face since the Plague struck, and it was a hugely enjoyable day, not least because of the chance I had to get to know the young son of the household. I was awake for at least half of last night fretting about whether I’d wake up in time, so was severely sleep deprived this morning. But the company from lunchtime onwards, to say nothing of the lunch itself, was so good that it had me completely forgetting that, and even though it is now nearly midnight I’m still wide awake. Nothing like reconnecting with friends to wake you up, by which I mean wake me up, especially when that company includes a boisterous boy.
As for the weather, well, I seriously doubt whether weather this year will ever be any better than it was today:
1: View from my friends’ garden; 2: Kent House Railway Station, a station whose platform clutter is particularly noticeable; 3: The towers of Vauxhall, as seen through the window of the train back to Victoria, which also reflects the view out of the train window opposite; 4: The same towers through the same window, this time with Brixtonian graffiti in the foreground: 5: More Quite Big Things, this time those surrounding the now dwarfed US Embassy and the newly redeveloped Battersea Power Station. Total number of clouds to be seen: zero.
What has actually been missing from my life in recent months is not biscuits. It has been the chance to meet up with more than only a tiny few good friends. An Osimertinib a day is still way out in front as the best way for my lung cancer to be kept at bay. But, if how today felt is anything to go by, then a very creditable second in that contest is: the best sort of company in the best sort of weather.
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.
When I met up with GodDaughter2 last week at the Blue Fin Building I got there a bit early and had some time to kill. Which of course I did by photoing, one of the photos I photoed being this:
What appealed to me was how over-the-top colourful this fake-floral display was, so far over-the-top that it quite triumphed over the unseasonal and deeply gloomy weather that day. (Today has been a bit better, or at least a bit warmer.)
But what, I wondered, is “APEROL”? At first I thought APEROL was the name of the indoor place behind this display. Turns out APEROL is a drink, which has been putting itself about lately, and that the above sign was because APEROL was sponsoring a pop-up, whatever exactly that may be. See categories list below, which I now realise must include “Getting old”. No doubt someone can – and perhaps even will – explain. I’m guessing it’s an outdoor eatery or drinkery of some sort which isn’t so much built, but rather simply assembled in a hitherto public spot big enough to accommodate it, made into a trend by Lockdown. If that’s right then I assume that money changed hands, in the direction of the local authority concerned.
Fine by me. The architecture surrounding this sign (we’re a place that calls itself “Bankside”), is, especially at street level, as modernistically dreary as you could ever hope not to see, and anything that brightens up the area, like a piece of colourful product placement, is to be welcomed. It certainly cheered me up.
Architects are soon going to get over their obsession with black, white, brown and grey, and generally pale and lifeless shades of boring – even the Blue Fin Building isn’t properly blue – and start doing proper colour on the outside of their now boring buildings, big time. This is a stylistic pulse that I do happen to have my finger on, unlike the pop-up thing, and I know whereof I speak. And it can’t come too soon, I say.
GodDaughter2 has been doing a job in the Blue Fin Building, which is just behind Tate Modern. About three quarters of the way up this building there is a roof area you can walk about in and sit at tables in, and also an indoor sort of bring-your-own-food canteen with views out on outside this roof area. And yesterday, she arranged for us both to go up there are sample the views. Sadly, the weather was pretty filthy, and entirely lacking in the sort of bright sunshine illuminating everything that I so much prefer for photoing. But of course I photoed anyway:
What the above photos all have in common is that they combine views of London beyond the Blue Fin building with close-up views of this or that aspect of the building itself. Sometimes the Blue Fin foreground dominates, but often you just see a bit of the outside of the building, like the big transparent “wall” that stops you accidentally walking off this roof to your death, but which, because it is transparent, actually makes me (and GodDaughter2) scared to go near the damn thing, because transparent walls at the top of cliffs are not things that humans have all evolved not to be freaked out by. If you get my drift.
The best you can say about the weather was that it wasn’t raining all the time, just spitting some of it.
There must be a million statues with masks on them these days, given what these days are still like, but here’s the first one I have actually encountered on my recent photo-travels:
Yet another photo-souvenir of the times we have all lived through (apart from those of us who didn’t).
That particular beast (what exact sort of beast it is I can only guess – Dragon? Bear?) is the one holding a sign, saying nothing at all, outside St Ermin’s Hotel, which is near to St James’s Park tube, which is one of my local tube stations.
One of the arguments I am looking forward to learning more about, as time goes by and as the Covid books start appearing, concerns just how little good and how much harm these muzzles have done, and, crucially, how soon they knew, or should have known, such stuff.