A strange discovery on the other side of the River from me

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.

Another Golden Gate photo

Big and brand new bridges are pretty rare these days, after a burst of them (or such is my recollection) around two decades ago. So, here is a photo of an Oldie But Goldie, which I encountered on Twitter recently:

This posting is partly because I love that photo, but partly also because I am lunching tomorrow with GodDaughter1’s Dad, who is a renowned bridge engineer, and I need to remind myself to ask him about any good new bridges. If there have been any, he’ll know.

Quota gallery of Broadway progress

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.

Some surprises at the Royal Marsden today

Now that the weather is good and Lockdown seems to be easing, I am doing a lot more getting out, but am in a physical state where properly thoughtful blogging is hard to do on a day when I will be doing or have been doing much else. And today was very busy, by my standards. A complicated and prolonged visit to the bank. Then a haircut. Then a trip to the Marsden and the usual waiting around for blood tests, doctor consultation, and prescriptions. After all that I am no state to say very much here.

So I will content myself, and you, with this photo:

On the face of it, this is a photo of a Royal Marsden Hospital bannister. But that was the law of perfectly focused intervening objects asserting itself. What I was trying to photo was what is going on in the background. That’s right. Not just the Royal Marsden piano. A pianist playing the Royal Marsden piano. Chopin? Mozart? Sadly not. Generic improvised jazz, which is not my favourite. Even so, actual piano playing going on. Could it be that this is a regular occurrence, interrupted by Lockdown, but now resuming? Maybe.

I was going to end this there, but there were two other oddities at the Marsden today that I might as well mention, now that I have actually got started with this posting.

There was also this:

That being a photo taken by my Senior Designated Friend, who was with me at the Marsden today, now that they are getting more relaxed about such things.

What that is of is of an old grey-haired geezer who has presumably been up to no good, handcuffed to a police lady, in the Marsden Outpatients Department, presumably getting treatment. Despite the handcuffs, he seemed like a very well-behaved sort of a guy, but I guess cancer will do that to you.

I have never seen such a thing before in a hospital. That almost certainly being because the Marsden is the only hospital I have much experience of.

And finally, another Royal Marsden first, in the form of a less that totally obliging Marsden member of staff. This was the lady who was doing my blood tests. This hurt a bit more than usual. But worse, I got the distinct impression that she neglected to do the tests for the people doing research into the impact of Covid jabs on cancer patients, which I have been contributing to. I brought in some paperwork, but also mentioned this research, and that the usual routine was quite a large number of blood samples. That would usually mean the person I said such a thing to checking this out in some way, to see if more blood was indeed needed. But this lady just took the one sample and mumbled something about “I just do what I’m told” and the paperwork I brought in only said do one sample. That I said do several, and that I might be worrying about this, didn’t seem to bother her.

Later, we happened to ask the same lady how to get to the pharmacy, and for the very first time, I got directions from a Marsden worker that were hurried and unhelpful, and giving off a bit of a “don’t bother me now I’m busy” vibe. We had to ask someone else as well.

As I say, such has been the hitherto amazing level of Marsden staff helpfulness that these items of less than totally obliging patient service came as a surprise. I wonder if Lockdown easing has meant people coming in to work at the Marsden who are not totally indoctrinated into the Marsden Way, so to speak. Again, as with the visiting pianist, it could well be.

It’s not that the Marsden service is absolutely perfect. But what stands out for me about this place his how kind and patient the Marsden people (almost) all of them are with any difficulties that arise. So today, for instance, I had a rather longer wait for medical attention than has been usual, and I queried this at the desk. A medic then came out to tell me that they were waiting for some test results, hence the delay. This was not a brusque phone message to the desk. This was a full explanation and a courteous apology for the really quite short wait I was having to put up with. I’m guessing the delay getting those test results may have been something to do with the bank holiday weekend, which only ended today. Whatever, the point was they knew I was starting to fret and the medic went out of her way to put my mind at rest.

The test results, by the way, continue to be very good. My cancer continues to be in retreat in the face of the Osimertinib pills I have been taking. Although the side effects of these pills are starting to pile up, the pills are working spectacularly well. The doctors do not promise that these this will continue. Apparently the cancer could mutate, or something. But, so far so good. Wish me luck.

Compared to that, a somewhat brusque blood tester is hardly worth mentioning, and I only do mention this because, such is the overall standard of Marsden care for and kindness to patients, that it stuck out like a slightly dim bulb in an otherwise totally dazzling chandelier. In many a bog standard NHS place, such a person would fit right in.

Now I’m even more knackered. And tomorrow looks like it will be just as strenuous. I blame the perfect weather.

Duck & Waffle views yesterday

Yesterday’s Duck & Waffle socialising was with, get this, GodDaughter1 and GodDaughter2, These two favourite people of mine had, until yesterday, only met very fleetingly during parties or events at my home, and never properly connected. Yesterday, they got to really talk. And it says everything about what mattered to me about this meetup, and what didn’t, that I actually forgot to bring my regular camera with me, and had to make do with my mobile, which I had with me not to photo but to ensure that we all met up successfully. Which to cut a long and boring story down to its proper size, … we did.

Even more remarkably, I really wasn’t more than mildly bothered to have forgotten the proper camera, because I reckoned the mobile would be okay for my purposes, and I reckon it was. Here, as not promised yesterday evening, are my favourite photos from yesterday, of favourite place of mine, London, as seen from above:

These views could only be photoed through plate glass, so there were many reflections getting in the way. But, you get the pictures. Roof clutter heaven. There were some clouds in the sky (see photo 1), unlike on Saturday, but these were few and small.

The background noise in the place was louder than I’d have liked. It meant I had to shout a bit, and that now makes me cough. On the other hand, we probably had the best table in the house from the views point of view, looking out west, north and east, from its spot on in the far left corner of the floor. Plus, there was a bar which we later visited which had windows looking south, to other nearby Big Things, most notably the Gherkin, but also the top of 22 Bishopsgate, the D&W being at the top of 110 Bishopsgate.

Both these Bishopsgate towers are so bland that they neither of them, to my knowledge, have yet been awarded nicknames. But, 22 Bishopsgate. which is the biggest City of London Big Thing by quite a way, is growing on me. The view of it from the main exit of Liverpool Street Station is very fine, especially in the slightly misty sunshine that prevailed yesterday.

The Tower of London, to be seen in photo 8 above, the one with the Gherkin dominating the foreground, used once upon a time to be the biggest Big Thing in London. Now look at it. Tiny. Tiny even compared to Tower Bridge, let along all the other bigger Things.

And for me, another highlight is the way that the BT Tower stands out west, in photo 6, in isolated splendour. Isolated, I presume, because nothing is allowed to get in the way of all the signals it sends out and receives.

Today I ate ice cream with a knife and fork

More socialising today. Returned home exhausted and had a sleep. With luck, fuller report with photos follows, although nothing promised. For now, this ice cream photo must suff-ice:

This was in something called the Duck & Waffle, which is way up at the top of a City of London Big Thing. I had ice cream and waffle, the waffle being the reason for the knife and fork. But this worked well for the ice cream also.

A spoon was also provided, and I did use this right at the end after the ice cream, which had begun very cold and solid, had melted.

BMNB quote of the day: If you feel something is missing …

Here we go:

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.

3D-printed fake rhino horns

Suddenly I am finding all kinds of interesting animals-related stuff.

This, for instance:

My rule about Friday being my day for animals-related stuff has morphed, in my head, into the rule that I am not allowed to post animals-related stuff on any other day except Friday. Crackers. This is my blog and I can do what I like with it. But, it would seem that I can’t.

Snap

This photo, which I just this moment encountered on my Twitter feed, is exactly the photo I would have photoed, were I ever allowed into such a place:

Up to and including the facts that (a) I would have been indistinctly reflected in the mirror at the back, (b) everything is ever so slightly not quite vertical (that being a constant problem I have), and (c) there is a cat involved.

Castelnou

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.