Out near London Gateway

A little clutch of photos of a decaying jetty, photoed just beyond Tilbury on the north side of the Estuary, in September 2013:

From this spot I could also see, in the far distance, the first few cranes of London Gateway. I made several trips to inspect these, around then:

There is nothing else as big as these cranes to be seen anywhere near them, and in their visual impact on their surroundings they remind me of nothing so much as one of those medieval cathedrals, in a town than never got much bigger. (Like Ely.)

According to Wikipedia, there are now twelve cranes up and running. There’ll eventually be twenty four.

One more such expedition to those parts probably wouldn’t kill me. Or then again it might. In London, everything is close together, and there are buses and trains everywhere. Not out there.

Train chat – ugly and old versus pretty and new – double-decker trains in Britain

I get nostalgic about cars, even though cars have clearly improved quite a lot since my childhood. But the trains of my childhood, them I do not miss. The average train in Britain has, I think, got a lot prettier and nicer to use than the immediately-post-Beeching clunkers I used to travel in from Egham to Waterloo.

Recently, in connection with some forgettable muddle concerning some bad weather which had disrupted train services, I came upon a photo that illustrated this. Or I came upon another photo, and googled “azuma” (sounds like an on-line gambling den), and got to this photo, whichever:

My point being that that is a really sweet looking train, compared to the lumpish Southern Region trains I remember. Automatic doors have replaced doors which were like the doors of bank safes. Light materials have replaced heavy materials. There is elegant streamlining sculpture at the front. The carriage is one long single compartment, instead of divided into separate compartments, in which you could get stuck with a weirdo. (I realise now that I was often that weirdo.) That kind of thing. Just getting on and off these horrible old trains took about three minutes, compared to the about-one-minute process that happens now.

Well, more recently, on another random walk through The Internet, I came upon this amazingly angry blog posting, about double decker trains, which featured this amazing photo, of a British double-decker train:

Double decker trains are common on the Continent, but not here in Britain, and this angry blogger is not happy about this! But the reasons for their absence here seem to be more complicated than I had supposed. It’s not that there is simply no room for them under our bridges. It seems that they were tried (see above), but were not persisted with.

This intriguing graphic shows that actually, Britain could accommodate such trains, if it wanted to:

I did not know this.

Unlike this angry writer, of the angry blog post where I found these images, I am quite used to not understanding why something has happened that makes no sense to me, or in this case has not happened when it might make sense to me. No doubt those far closer to the action than me or than Angry Blogger have their reasons. Also, Angry Blogger doesn’t think like an economist or a man of business, but more like a Continental dirigiste. He wants double-decker trains! If those who should have arranged this, but who didn’t, chose not to because of various quite subtle trade-offs involving how many more people you can actually fit in a double-decker train (what with having to include the stairs), how much longer it might take for people to get on-and-off them, what sort of extra air conditioning might be needed, how much heavier and more structurally robust everything might have to be, blah blah blah, then as far as Angry Blogger is concerned, it is because they lack Vision! Not because they might have looked into it, and decided to spend their limited budgets in other more humdrum and more sensible ways. (I don’t know what Angry Blogger thinks about HS2. I suspect him of broadly favouring it, but of thinking that it’s being Done All Wrong!!!)

The other thing I like about the photo of the double-decker British train is that it illustrates all that old school clunkiness that used to afflict British trains of all kinds, way back then. Yes, I remember now. I think I got into all this double-decker train stuff simply because I was looking for a picture of a clunky old train, and came upon this clunky old double-decker train.

Dig deeper into the British double decker train issue, by becoming a follower of this Twitter group, to whom Angry Blogger (to whom deep thanks despite everything) links. Where it says:

Not followed by anyone you’re following.

It figures.

Meanwhile, it is clear to me that we in Britain have double-decker buses, unlike on the Continent, because, unlike them, we have Vision!

Electric scooter with vegetables

ISIBAISIA: The Next Big Thing in Transport, certainly in London Transport, is not robot cars; it is human-driven electric scooters.

Today, outside a local Afghan shop (the same one as at the other end of the second link above), photoed by me, with permission:

The photos were a bit better this time, and the vegetables came out much better.

In this podcast-with-Patrick I expressed scepticism about robot cars coming to your city any time very soon, but omitted to mention electric scooters, which are already here. Missed a trick there.

See also this robot-car-sceptic piece that says Self-Driving Cars Are Taking Longer to Build Than Everyone Thought. Which is not quite right. Self-driving cars are taking longer to build than everyone except me thought.

Even when they do arrive, robot cars will start out as just a robotised version of the same bad idea, which is people, who are not that big, meandering about in metal boxes which are very big indeed. Electric scooters take up a fraction of the space of these metal boxes and are easily stored at work, and equally easily carried on trains or buses, unlike the big metal boxes which are a nightmare to store and impossible to carry around with you. Electric scooters are, in particular, also much better than bikes. In a decade they will be everywhere, in giant flocks. Just you wait and see.

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that the brand of scooter this guy was kind enough to demonstrate to me was the Inokim QUICK 3 super +. I’m going by comparing my photos with the imagery at the website, and going by what the he said it would do, and what he paid for it.

It looked really solid.

This taxi-with-advert couldn’t be cropped down to 1000×500

1000×500 is usually the size I crop taxis-with-adverts down to, for display here. Or to put it another way, first I chop them down into a big 2×1-shaped horizontal rectangle, and then reduce that down from whatever it was to 1000×500.

But I couldn’t do that to this taxi-with-advert, now could I?:

I may do so eventually, if and when this taxi-with-advert takes its place with another big gallery of taxis-with-adverts. But in the meantime …

This photo was photoed in January of 2014, hence the absence of 22 Bishopsgate, the Biggest Thing in the City of London Big Thing Cluster, yet despite that, so boring that it is still seems to be known, if known at all, as “22 Bishopsgate”.

The far less boring Scalpel was also yet to be built.

Picadil Circus

I did not know this, from a massive thread about the London Underground, done by a lady called Antonia:

In 1612 a man named Robert Baker built a mansion house just to the north of Piccadilly Circus.

He became wealthy from selling Picadils, stiff collars worn by the fashionable gents in court.

He called his mansion Picadil Hall, and the name Piccadilly stuck.

She should surely have said “north of what is now” Piccadilly Circus. But pedantry aside, good to know. And no wonder we’re all confused about how the hell to spell Pic(c)dil(l)y. The name got started at a time when they never knew things like that in the first place.

This is from one of those Twitter “threads” that ought to be a blog posting, but isn’t, because it doesn’t make sense to stop using Twitter just because you feel an essay coming on. (I think very short blog postings work fine, whereas great piles of tweets are often a dismembered mess. This one’s okay, though, because each tweet is a distinct bit of information.)

When she said “mansion house” I thought it was going to be Mansion House she was explaining, even though that’s not, I now realise, where Mansion House (Tube) is.

So this blog has now done Piccadilly Circus, and before that, Horseferry Road. I’m not now going to start looking for these explanations of funny London names. But when I bump into another, I’ll try to remember to notice it here.

I bumped into this one because a bloke whose photos I like retweeted the thread in his feed.

Strange creatures in Exhibition Road

Just over a year ago, in May of 2019, I was making my way from South Kensington Tube, up Exhibition Road past Imperial College, to the Royal College of Music, there to witness a performance which involved GodDaughter2. While making this journey, I encountered this strange creature:

I wonder what that was, I thought to myself from that moment on. Then, while rootling through the photo-archives, as I do, I encountered this taxi-with-advert photo, which seemed to feature the above creature:

Now I had some words to work with, so googling went from difficult to easy, and I began to learn about the One-Eyed Creature. He is one of the stars of a juvenile movie franchise, involving such things as One-Eyed Creatures, but also similar but Two-Eyed Creatures. Despicable Me. Also Despicable Me 2. At around that time, Despicable Me 3 was being plugged. Also there is a Bean Boozled connection, involving some sort of toy. Now that I know I could understand all this, I no longer feel any need actually to do this. How do I feel about having once cared? Despicable Me, that’s how.

I think a symptom of getting old is that you see more and more things that baffle you, and you don’t like the feeling. It’s not that we Oldies really do care about knowing trivia like this. What we care about is not knowing.

Soon after photoing this One-Eyed Creature, I photoed this couple:

I don’t feel quite so Despicable for being entertained by these two, but I still do somewhat. I found a few mentions of them on The Internet, in connection with Halloween. But this was May, so, no reason for them to be out and about in South Kensington. But then again, no reason for them not to be.

Feline Twitter dump

I earlier promised a creature-related Twitter dump. It turns out it’s pretty much all cats:

Another optical illusion that works on a nonhuman animal.

Can cats pass the mirror self-recognition test? This one did.

Why does this advert make it look like cats created a centre left political party in the early 2000s?

Screw your traffic, humans.

These next two tweets are also feline, because they’re Schrödinger’s Cat jokes:

Schrödinger’s Dumpster.

Schrödinger’s Plates.

Fed up with all the cattery? Then maybe you’ll approve of this:

A bit barbaric but my dog approves.

Still wanting something not cat related. Well, there’s always the Babylon Bee.

Out and across Lambeth Bridge

This afternoon, I ventured out of doors. What with the weather being so nice:

Because public transport has recently been something that Non-essential Workers (apparently the world can do without personal blogs if it has to) have been discouraged from using, so for the last few weeks, I couldn’t just go somewhere by tube or bus, then walk where I wanted to for as far as I wanted too, and then grab the nearest tube or bus back home. It no longer works like that. The further I now walk, the further I have to be willing to walk back.

So, me and my camera are focusing in a whole new way on places within easy walking distance of home.

Today, I walked through the back alleys of Millbank, past pollarded trees just beginning to assert themselves with leaves, but not so much as to become boring. I went past the statue of John Everett Millais (I took photo-notes), who stands at the back of Tate Ancient, and was then beside the River, looking at Things on the other side, and at Lambeth Bridge, which I had in mind to cross. This time, the tide was higher

What is that Ancient Tower that looks like someone stole it from Tower Bridge? The one in Photo 5 above, in the middle. I’m too tired to track it down. I was out walking in London today, and I am too knackered to care, for now. Anyone?

I did cross Lambeth Bridge, St Mary’s Gardens being just on the other side of it, next to a church, St Mary’s Church presumably.

And then I 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.

This is a little patch of nearby London that I have very seldom explored. I know what I will see on the other side of Vauxhall Bridge, because I often go to Vauxhall Station, or beyond to the Oval, to say nothing of being intrigued by that weird Bus Thing. And I used constantly to cross Westminster Bridge, photoing photoers, and in search of classical CDs in Lower Marsh, and of much else, like closer-up views of how the City of London’s Big Things have been progressing. I still do, quite often. But the little patch of London life beyond Lambeth Bridge, along Lambeth Road and nearby roads, is far less well known to me. I know it a bit better now.

And then when my wanderings were done and I was knackered, I tried, for the first time since Lockdown started, to take a bus back home. And I succeeded! The bus was three quarters empty. The driver made no attempt to persuade me to continue walking, and nor did anyone else. Plus, the driver was taped off, like he was a crime scene, which was a sufficiently strange circumstance for me to reckon it worth photoing, and again, nobody thought to interrupt me while I did this:

All of which meant that I got back home sooner than I feared I would, and far less knackered than I feared I would be.

But still knackered.

A Twitter dump

For several months now, as alluded to tangentially already today, I have a ever heightening heap of, in particular, tweets piling up in my computer, which I have in mind to say clever things about, and which I do not in the meantime want to completely forget about. Pocket is great for articles with big headings at the top, but less good for tweets. So, here is a twitter dump, several of which are now way out of date, but still fun to remember.

This has made some impression on the pile. Not much, but some. So, in no particular order …:

Horrific find in local cafe. Destruction of great literature to create a bookish aesthetic. Shameful. Wasteful.

When God tries to punish your city for homosexuality but gays use their magic shield to protect it.

Two Concordes landing simultaneously.

I was glad to help you get home safely.

… you can be anything you want to be. You absolutely can not.

Inequality is the idea you can never be happy with a million dollars if the guy next door has a billion.

When I said Boris should get the unpopular stuff out of the way straight after the election, I meant unpopular with other people, not me.

“The United Kingdom is the last major European country where it is illegal to use e-scooters on public roads, bike paths, and pavements. This is despite surveys and usage indicating they are overwhelmingly popular where they are legal.” Time to fix that.

I see the potential for a whole new and compelling theory of modern political trends: ‘where does the bonkersness go?’ It could be called The Bonkers Dynamic, or Bonkerology.

Why did the Pilgrim Fathers leave for the New World? … They sailed because they felt themselves in a story.

Brexit Day +4: The grounded planes, the chaos in the streets, the unpaid workers, the crippling strikes, the faltering economy, the upper class buffoon in charge, the petrol bombs, the riot police, the snipers on rooftops, the tanks on the streets. But enough about France

I will not stand for baseless attacks and slander, unless they are directed at people I personally dislike.

A little excess fear is exactly what evolutionary principles would predict. The cost of us getting killed even once is higher than the cost of responding to a hundred false alarms.

However the #CoronavirusOutbreak plays out, pundits and commentators will craft a clean story for why whatever ends up happening was obvious all along.

From Dawah to damage control – All the workshops that used to be around trying to convert non-Muslims to Islam, are now trying to keep Muslims from leaving Islam and doubting religion.

When a team loses it looks unpopular, out of touch, and hence more likely to lose in future. It is the very act of winning that changes other people’s minds because they don’t want to be on the unpopular team, and winning shows that what you’re offering is what’s popular.