A year ago today …

I was in St Cyprien, in the extreme south of France, staying with my extreme south of France friends (aka GodDaughter2’s family).

Roof clutter ancient and modern, wires, orange tiles, fishing equipment, tourist crap with no soldiers or royal family (just Art), amazing plants (including little wine trees with mountains behind them), boats galore, and very well behaved sea for the boats to drive on. Not that all of those things are to be seen in these photos, but they are all very much to be seen in the extreme south of France:

And light. Lots of lovely light.

But, no outstanding single eyecatching Things, like in London or Paris. Just atmosphere and lots of it.

William Huskisson and his statue

In addition to photoing ducks in Pimlico Gardens, I also photoed this statue of William Huskisson:

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.

At the top of the Walkie Talkie

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.

“Is now the moment that using video has become the default thing that people do when they just want to talk to someone?”

Michael Jennings (he who got the pictures back (thank you Michael)) writes this on Facebook. It’s not personal, so I’m pretty sure he won’t mind me recycling it here, even if I don’t believe a link is in order:

Video calling has been technically possible for 50 years, and telephone companies made various attempts in the first 40 of those years to get people to buy it, but nobody was interested. A sizeable portion of people have had video calling available to them as an option (for free) for about ten years. However, it was still only used in niche cases.

Is now the moment that using video has become the default thing that people do when they just want to talk to someone?

I do not now do this, nor even know how to do it. What’s the betting I do get to do it, some time during the next month or so? I’m pretty sure I will, if you-know-what drags on longer than we all now are hoping.

It would mean me getting a computer with a camera on it, which I do not now have. But I’ve been thinking about getting a new laptop for a while now, for photoing and blogging when out and about. Will video-phoning be the killer app that pushes me over that line? Or, maybe I should do as Michael says, and get a new phone.

And not a cloud in the sky

On and from the roof of my block of flats, yesterday:

We’re all confined to barracks, and the best weather of the year so far, by far, chose to arrive to celebrate the fact. About five solid days of not-a-cloud-in-they-sky perfection, ideal for any number of different and interesting photo-expeditions, and all we’re allowed to do is a little shopping shopping, go straight to and from work, and take a bit of exercise. As I get older, I become less and less inclined to incur the wrath of strangers, and me creeping about taking photos might, I can’t help feeling, incur the wrath of strangers. Up on the roof seemed like the best place to go photoing, and in particular to photo the annoyingly perfect weather.

Photo 1: The Broadway, taking shape. Photo 2: Millbank Tower, and new south bank apartments beyond. Photo 3: Parliament, The Wheel. Photo 4: looking towards Vauxhall. Photo 8: Central Hall Westminster. Photo 9: Shard.

Photos 5 and 6: Roof clutter, close up.

It’s Photo 7 that is the mystery. I’m going to have to go back up there and check that out. What’s the big tower on the left? What are the towers in the middle? Looks like they’re under construction. Guess, we’re looking towards all the building around Battersea Power Station.

Photos are back! (Again)

I know, you’ve heard this before. Here’s hoping it lasts this time.

I celebrate with this photo, taken in the south of France, Perpignan I think, nearly fifteen years ago in June 2005:

I love that, though I say it myself, and although (among another thing) it’s of myself, several times over.

Those Frenchies do love their motorbikes.

A twenty-first century moment

Central to understanding it is that I still don’t understand it.

Okay, so earlier this evening my phone rang. I picked it up, and said, to some suspiciously silent silence, “Hello”. No answer. “Hello”. No answer. Down goes the phone. Who was that? Oh well.

If this had been the twentieth century, this would have been a “crossed line”. But, I thought, this is not the twentieth century. This is the twenty-first century. Do we still have crossed lines? I rather think not. Oh well.

A bit later, the phone rings again, and it’s GodDaughter 2. I know this because I recognise her voice. (My phone has no idea who’s ringing.) I asked: Did you ring earlier? No.
Well, I said “Hello” and “Hello” to somebody, but heard nothing back. She said, in an “OMG” voice: Oh My God. I was just talking to my Dad, she said. And he said he heard you talking, she said. While we were talking, she said, on some twenty first century computer programme the name of which I (as in: not GD2 – as in: I) forget, but which I (ditto) surmise enables third parties to join in the conversation, so you can have a group chat. In among the talk between GD2 and GD2’s Dad, the phrase “ring Brian” was used, for some reason I didn’t catch and still don’t understand (see above). So, the programme promptly rang Brian, aka me. But I don’t have the programme on my twentieth century telephone, so I could hear nothing. But GD2’s Dad heard me saying “Hello” “Hello”.

Later, GD2’s Dad’s phone rang me again, and I answered, “Hello” “Hello” etc, and a strange young man’s voice came on saying what must have been “Who are you?”, while I was busy saying “Who are you?” GDs’s Dad’s phone had rung GD2’s Dad too, helpfully putting us in touch, given that it had failed last time. GD2’s brother aka GD2’s Dad’s son answered at that end, which make the whole situation really clear, to both of us. Not. Oh well. GD2’s Dad and I had a chat, because we are both polite and could neither of us just say: But I wasn’t trying to talk to you.

This must be what they call Artificial Intelligence.

Please understand (see above about how I don’t actually understand) that the above description is only my guess about what was really happening.