This morning I was at the Marsden, getting my second Covid jab, and the time after I left was the best weather for photoing of the day, by which I mean the sunniest. I photoed over a hundred photos, which is not something I have recently done. Not since February, during that little warm spell we had, I think.
However, this was not a real old-school photo-walk like I used to do, like the one remembered in the previous posting. All I did was walk from the Marsden to South Kensington tube, photoing whatever took my fancy, but basically going back home, via Sainsbury’s where I did some shopping. So, I’m still not the photoer I was, and I rather suspect that I never will be again. I’ll still do photoing, but only while basically engaged in doing other things that matter more to me, like not dying immediately of lung cancer, and meeting up with friends and family.
I will probably be showing other photos I photoed this morning, but for now, consider this photo:
It’s those branches doing right angle turns, right in the middle there, that really got my attention.
The more I look at the trees of London, the more artificial they seem to me to be, the more they look like the products of human design and the less they seem like the “natural” products of their mere DNA. Most London trees, of which the above tree (the other side of the Fulham Road from the Marsden) is a particularly striking example, are no more “natural” than the dogs that you see on television prancing about in competitions.
Somewhere just downstream of Tate Modern. That kind of area.
It’s the old Big-Thing-in-the-distance-through-a-gap-in-the-buildings effect, which often happens, as here, when the gap is simply caused by a road happening to go straight towards the Big Thing in question. She knew I’d like this, because when we’ve been for walks in the past, I’ve said “Look at that! Wow!” when seeing something like this. I love the vagueness of the Big Thing bit of the image, in contrast to the definiteness of the foreground anonymity.
The official name for this particular Big Thing is Strata, but GD2 described it today on the phone, when I was thanking her for this photo, as a beard trimmer. So from now on, for me, this is going to be the Beard Trimmer.
No definite information about the camera she used, but almost certainly her mobile. Probably an iPhone.
Note also how the tree does not, because of the time of the year, wreck the view.
Yesterday, I did some shopping, and on my way back turned into Vincent Square, basically just to get away from the din of Vauxhall Bridge Road.
And I saw trees, resplendent in the evening sunshine, and in their total lack of leaves to spoil the splendour:
Photo 1 shows the bigger picture, and also what my Samsung Galaxy mobile phone does to vertical lines if you let it. Basically it can’t handle wide open spaces very well. Photo 2 and I’m looking at the branches of the trees rather more closely.
Photo 3 has me flying off at a tangent and bringing back memories of the time when I used to photo all manner of things reflected in car windows.
But then, in Photo 4, we see me noticing the, to me, really strange thing about these trees, which is the way they look the way they do entirely because men with saws decided that this was how they were going to look. Once you see these weirdly shaped branches, ziggy-zagging this way and that, for no apparent reason, yet surely for good reasons, you never look at a tree the same way again. I mean, look at that branch, in the middle there. Whose idea was that? And why?
Sometimes pollarding is rather obvious, once you’ve got your head around the fact of it. But what we are seeing here is so weird, I don’t know if the word pollarding still applies.
Mick Hartley has been checking out the Alexandra Palace part of London. And his basic point in this posting is that real birds perching on the heads of pretend birds is quite amusing. But then he includes this photo, like it was an afterthought that was too good to ignore, which has nothing to do with birds perching on other birds:
So far as I can tell, this tree looks entirely different from how it would have looked if humans hadn’t constantly been decided where each bit of it would go next.
Whether that’s right or not, I for one am very sure that trees are usually much more interesting when they aren’t smothered in leaves. This one definitely is.
There were statues to be seen nearby, but there were bigger things, Big Things, further away, on the other side of the River:
Photo 1 uses the clutter associated with getting on and off of a boat to frame the Wheel. All the rest are entirely of more distant stuff.
I like the colours, warm cream when the sun hits stone or concrete, dark glass, the perfect blue of the sky. My camera makes the dark glass, of such buildings as One Blackfriars (aka the Boomerang), all the darker by not wanting bright sunlight directly reflected to look too bright.
And once again with the shadow of the Wheel (for once London “Eye” works very nicely) on the Shell Building, but this time with the shadow seeming to be the wrong way round, as seen most clearly in photo 6 and also in photo 7. It is of course the shadow of the opposite side of the Wheel.
And in the further distance, in gaps, the Shard (photo 9), and a rather handsome view of 22 Bishopsgate (photo 5) looking like a more coherent shape than I am used to seeing, a bit like a ship, front on. Move along a bit, and we then see the Cheesegrater as well (photo 8).
These strange alignments all take a bit of getting used to when you first see them. This is because, like so many rivers in the middle of great cities, this river twists and turns, that being a big reason why the city got built here in the first place. By twiddling this way and that, the river brings valuable riverside spots closer to each other, and stirs up a lot more commerce than a straight river would. (See also: Paris.) But these kinks play hell with your sense of direction, or with mine anyway. I was on the north bank of the river, but, although I was looking straight across the river, I was nevertheless looking due east, rather than south. And back across another kink in the river again when seeing 22 Bishopsgate and the Cheesegrater, which are both part of the City Big Thing Cluster, which is on the north side of the river.
It is all part of London’s charm, and the charm of its Big Things. When out-and-abouting in London you can never be quite sure which Big Thing you’ll see next, through some gap in the foreground, or from what direction you’ll see it.
Often, when out-and-abouting, I go down Victoria Street and across Westminster Bridge, before turning left and walking downstream along the south bank of the river. But last Wednesday, instead of going over the bridge, I turned left at the Boudicca Statue and walked along the north side of the River. That takes you past more statues, slightly off-the-beaten-track of the best known history. Parliament Square has Mandela, Gandhi and Churchill, to name three particularly well-known historical celebs. On the North Bank, as you walk towards Embankment Tube, you encounter: Tyndale, the first translator of the Bible into English. You see Charles Portal, who was Chief of the Air Staff during WW2, without ever doing anything that caught the popular imagination, as they say, in the manner of Dowding or Guy Gibson or Douglas Bader. There is Gordon of Khartoum, who got himself killed in Khartoum and who was a huge celeb in his own time, but is now fading into the history books.
And, just before you get to Embankment Tube, there is this handsome looking grandee:
This, proclaims the plinth under him, is “Bartle Frere”.
Even for me, with all that time and money that was spent teaching me what is now decidedly ancient history, Bartle Frere is only a name. But now, in the age of the Internet, questions like “Who on earth was Bartle Frere?” are easily answered. And it turns out that Bartle Frere, or, to give him his full name, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere was a late nineteenth century colonial administrator of a sort who cannot now be discussed without extreme embarrassment and censure. He first had an impact in India, following the Indian Mutiny, generally cracking the whip and centralising British power there. And then they sent him to South Africa, to do the same there. Wars followed, against the Zulus, and eventually the Boer War. He seemed to have a genius for pissing people off, so much so that even at the time, people became rather doubtful about him.
You might think that, during the recent little moment of statue-complaining that came and went a few months ago, Bartle Frere would have more than qualified for public condemnation and possible toppling. Trouble is, he is just not known about or cared about. Nobody now says: “What we now need is another Bartle Frere.” “If only politicians nowadays had the moral stature of Bartle Frere.” They say this kind of thing about Mandela, Gandhi and Churchill, so if the wokists can find something unwoke to complain about with one of those guys, iconoclasm can at least be threatened, and a rise can be got out of all the people who respond by saying: Hey, leave Gandhi alone! Hands off Churchill! But nobody cares about Bartle Frere.
Iconoclasm only works if there is an actual icon to be clasmed, or clasmatised, or whatever the word is. Bartle Frere is not an icon, not now. He is now a nobody. So, his statue stood and stands tall and proud and utterly ignored by all but weirdos like me, and the woke mob never laid a finger on him.
At no point, a few months back when all the statue toppling was going on, was it felt necessary to put Bartle Frere in a box.
Friday is my day of the week for creatures of all sorts, and today BMNB has already featured a butterfly and a bee. But now, four horses, spied and photoed by me, near my home, on my way home from shopping, this very afternoon:
The first two. brown and black, were past me before I could get my camera out from under my shopping, so I only got them from behind. But the second two, black and white, I saw coming from a distance, so I got a better photo of them. But then, another photo of the rear end of the white horse seemed in order, because the colouring of this horse was so pleasing. I seem to recall, as a kid, being told that white horses are called “grays”. This photo perhaps explains why that might be. White horses of a particular sort have a natural tendency to turn gray, in parts. Is that it? Could well be.
These were Police horses, of course, them being the only sorts of horses to be seen around London SW1. Police horses need to live near where these demos are liable to happen, but in between demos they need exercise. They can’t just be stored in a shed, like guns or truncheons or complicated cars. And, around where I live is the perfect spot for this exercise. It’s an area bounded by busy roads with names you’ve heard of, like Victoria Street, Horseferry Road, and by the River Thames. But in between these roads, nobody goes, because this place is not on the way to anywhere else. So, perfect for SW1 Police horses to stroll through without any nasty surprises or causing any traffic complications with their slow pace of movement and their preference for walking next to each other.