Corona Time

Yes: “Corona Time”. I just heard this phrase, from the all-the-rage-just-now Icelandic classical pianist Víkingur Ólafsson. He was being interviewed on Radio 3’s Music Matters, and talking about how he’ll be juggling his work during the next few months, in the face of the tornado of cancellations that he and others like him now face. Far fewer public performances and lots more time spent studying and practising, and recording.

A lot of people are about to have a lot of Corona Time in the next few months.

Some people are going to be more deranged than others. Basically, the more sociable you are, and the less solitary and virtual in the way you live, the worse it will be. I especially like this Babylon Bee title:

Nation’s Nerds Wake Up In Utopia Where Everyone Stays Inside, Sports Are Canceled, Social Interaction Forbidden

Nerds have always had lots of Corona Time.

LATER: More Corona Time advice. I have in mind to write, like he says.

Ferrari sighting

While out-and-about on other business further in the middle of London even than my home is, I photoed this little Thing On Wheels:

This was in Bedford Street (as you can just about make out), which is just off the Strand. So far so ordinary. Some brand of “smart” car, presumably.

But when I got home, I looked more closely at this photo, and could just about make out … this:

I didn’t see this logo at the time. I merely noticed it in the original photo, of which the above is a crop-and-expand.

Unless I was mistaken, the Ferrari logo!. The Ferrari horse. Was this bod taking the piss? Had he stuck this Ferrari horse logo on his little red Dinky Toy for some sort of laugh?

This is the twenty first century, and questions like this can be quickly answered.

Apparently this was indeed a Ferrari Smart Car. (He’s not happy about this either.) Different Smart Car, Ferrari logo in the exact same spot. The cars must have come with this logo attached, and must accordingly be “real” Ferraris. Not real Ferraris, you understand. Real Ferraris can drive under articulated lorry trailers at 200 mph. What I saw and photoed was just a Dinky Toy car perpetrated by the Ferrari company in what must have been a quite prolonged fit of insanity, which I presume still continues. Talk about pissing all over your own brand.

Like I say, I like real Ferraris, which I suppose we must now call Ferrari Dumb Cars, driven by the spoilt children of the nouveau riche. The bloke in my photo looks more like an Extinction Rebel or some such thing. i.e. the sort of person who’d be totally opposed to real Ferraris. Which he may well be.

In the course of my googling, I discovered an entire internet subculture of photo-manipulators eager to take the piss out of this abominable little contraption.

Marble race

Tom Chivers:

This is weirdly engrossing.

I am off out soon, to spend an unpredictable fraction of this evening with GodDaughter2. So I need something up here before I go, so I don’t have to fret about it afterwards. Preferably, something weirdly engrossing. Job done.

Thank you to: Roberto Alonso González Lezcano.

I Love The Internet. (Does ILTI stand for this? (Either way, it does now. (And to hell with (this.)))

The voice of the Falklands War

This afternoon, Patrick Crozier and I recorded another of our podcasts. In due course, assuming the machine recording us didn’t misbehave, it should be showing up here.

Towards the end, during the “anything else we want to say” bit, we reminded ourselves of this amazing character:

For many Brits, Ian McDonald is the sight and the sound which will most vividly take us back to that bizarre time. Would the internet have anything to say about this unique bit-part player in recent British military history? Somewhat sadly, yes it did, in the form of obituaries. Ian McDonald died, in March 2019, one day before what would have been his 83rd birthday.

In the above video, which I found here, the news of the sinking of HMS Sheffield was imparted to Britain’s television viewers in the ponderous and funereal style that McDonald adopted no matter what news he was conveying.

As McDonald said later, this eccentric manner of speaking was deliberate:

“I knew right from the start there would be bad news as well as good news, which is why the delivery I chose was drained of all emotion with no adjectives, short and truthful. …”

Maybe short on paper, but it took an age for him to read it out. Nevertheless, it made a refreshing change from the bombastic and excitable style often adopted by other official spokesmen doing this sort of job, eager to talk up triumphs, but either saying nothing or telling lies about the inevitable setbacks. At the time, most of us trusted that McDonald was, as he said, telling the truth, even if not the whole truth.

Waiting for the plague to arrive

Life in London and places like it is, just now, strange. It is not now like this:

But will it soon become like this?

That’s a photo taken just over a century ago in Seattle. The Shorpy caption reads:

Ca. 1918-1919. “Precautions taken in Seattle, Wash., during the Spanish Influenza Epidemic would not permit anyone to ride on the street cars without wearing a mask. 260,000 of these were made by the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross which consisted of 120 workers, in three days.”

Coincidence that they just happened to be posting that, earlier this month? Presumably: not. (Here is a clutch of recent Coronoavirus links.)

Shorpy, one of the many things photographic that I have learned about from Mick Hartley, is now a regular www destination of mine.

The artistic retreat from beauty

Like many people, I like photos like this:

Not photoed by me. I wish it had been photoed by me. But, not.

It makes me think of David Hockney, who also likes leafless trees.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (ISIBAISIA): Artistic fashion often goes where it goes not because it is leading us all into some new and exciting artistic domain, but because it is retreating from an area where it can no longer make any sort of living. Example: beauty. Of the sort you see in the above photo.

Googling is good for things describable with a single word. But something like the idea that artists now hate doing beauty is a bit harder to track down. Google tends to fixate on one of the words you use and ignore all the others until it has told you everything it has on, you know, “artists”. Then, keep scrolling, and soon you will be learning of everything there is that you can read about “hate”. The closest I could get to what I wanted was a piece at the Tate Gallery website, entitled JJ CHARLESWORTH FINDS BEAUTY, ALONG WITH A SUNNY VIEW OF THE FUTURE, TO BE SOMETHING OF THE PAST.

I agree with JJ CHARLESWORTH that artists who reject beauty do this partly because they have a gloomy view of the future. But, ISIBAISIA, there’s surely also the fact that all of us now have machines on our persons which can crank out beauty on a daily basis, immortalising everything beautiful that we encounter that we wish to immortalise. Click. And if we can’t even be bothered to do that, plenty can be so bothered, and now pile their efforts into the great global photo-gallery that is the internet, that of course being where I got the photo that adorns this posting. What chance does the average artist have when up against all that? No wonder they prefer ugliness, ugliness so ugly that the Daily Mail will supply free publicity for it, “conceptual” art, painting with shit and piss, and such like. Oh, an artist can add beauty of the sort that a regular photo won’t add, but they can’t add enough extra beauty to justify all the extra bother. And especially not in the age of photo-processing software, which can add beauty. Now, picture-making software can enable you to create beauty.

Hockney, of course, is not an average artist. He is exceptional. He is in the top one per cent. He can paint whatever he likes, and people will still pay him lavishly for it. He can even sell his photos. But for his pains, all the official art people now agree that he is very passé for still doing beauty.

So, the artists have retreated out of beauty. They call it an advance, but they’re not fooling me. And now that I’ve explained this to you, they aren’t fooling you either.

Male seahorse delivering babies

Here. Amazing. I never knew this. At all.

Far too good to wait until next Friday. (Friday being my usual day for cats and other creatures stuff.)

I Twitter-follow Steve Stewart-Williams, and strongly recommend him as a followee. (Provided only that you agree with him (and me) that evolution is real and that doubting it is foolish, in which case he might make you angry.)

Or, to put the more general point the other way, if all you get from your Twitter feed is political bile and general nastiness, you’re not doing it right.

A Happy New Year of sport

The weekend just concluded is one of my favourites of the entire year, every year, because of sport. The Six Nations rugby gets started, which this time involved Italy getting slaughtered by Wales 42-0, and Scotland and England getting beaten by Ireland in Ireland and and by France in France. Then on Sunday evening the Super Bowl got started, and went on into the not-that-small hours. The Flyover Country MAGA Chiefs defeated the Coastal Elite 49ers with a great come-back at the end, so I was very happy about that.

Plus there was lots of regular sporting stuff that just happened to be happening. On Saturday morning there was a Big Bash League cricket game in Australia. In the BBL, I care only about how well the English players do, and in this game the Alex Hales Thunder defeated the Phil Salt Strikers.

I even took a look at the Australian Open tennis, in which Djokovich beat somebody. Everyone hates Djokovich, apparently, but he seemed okay to me.

There was also women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature, but women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature are none of them of great interest to me. What am I, a sporting obsessive?

Then on Sunday afternoon, Spurs beat Man City at English football, which tends not to happen these days. Spurs took both of their two chances, while ManC missed all of their eighteen chances, including a penalty that the Spurs goalie saved. That definitely softened the blow of England losing at the Rugby version of football to France.

What with all this excitement, it feels to me like now is the real beginning of the new year, a feeling intensified this year by Brexit, which caused January 31st to feel exactly like December 31st.

Happy New Year everyone.

Brown Norwegian cheese (again)

In 1966, I had a three month holiday in Scandinavia, on a bike. This did not work very well in Norway, which is rather bumpy, but what did work well in Norway was the brown Norwegian cheese. I don’t have the ostehøvel that I used on that trip to slice the brown Norwegian cheese, because I gave it away to someone, but back home, I bought another one immediately …:

… and have been using it ever since, for slicing regular British cheese.

I had less luck finding any brown Norwegian cheese back home. Even since then, I have kept an eye open for this brown Norwegian cheese, in Brit shops, but I never found any.

Then I had a brainwave. Why not type “brown Norwegian cheese” into the www, and see what came up? Maybe the www could tell me which shop to try. And yes, you are right, I should have thought of this a lot sooner. See the contents list below, which will include: Getting old.

Anyway, the www did its stuff, and I was instructed to visit Waitrose in Oxford Street, which is in the basement of John Lewis. And I duly purchased a couple of … these:

“A Norwagian speciality. Mixed creamy whey cheese made with goat’s milk and cow’s cream.”

When you get inside this (and start slicing and eating), it looks like this:

Yum. £4 per cube. Worth every penny.

LATER: Sorry about the spotty plate. It really is time I got some plain white ones, on which dirt is more easily spotted.

Venus on the South Bank

October 20th 2007 was a good day for me photoing photoers, and I’ve just set aside thirty five photoers to stick up here. But, because of the lateness of the hour, that will take too long to sort out now, even given how much easier such photo-clutch displaying has now become. So here, in the meantime, is some Art that I photoed on that same expedition, in among photoing all those photoers:

The painting on the left is The Birth of Venus, complete with her strategically long, blond hair. But what is the one on the right? (Aside from not being quite finished.)

Closer up:

I see an angel and a Madonna. I wonder if googling will yield anything.

No luck. Lots of Madonnas, of the modern Italian-American and pop-singing sort, and lots of this famous painting. But nothing like the painting above. So, commenters?