AEF

Yesterday I walked across Vauxhall Bridge. It’s been a while since I have done this, which is why I only yesterday discovered that just opposite the MI6 building there is a frenzy of excavation activity, in connection with the new giant sewer that they a building along the river.

Here are the photos I took of all this grubbing:

And here is the sign on Vauxhall Bridge Road next to all this activity:

AEF stands for Albert Embankment Foreshore. It seems that all the “Tideway” (i.e. the sewer) sites of a similar sort have a three letter acronym to identify and distinguish them.

This particular location would surely make a great place for James Bond to start doing crazy things in the sewer. All you need is a small passage connecting the sewer to the MI6 building, a distance of about twenty yards, and boom. Away we go, with a car chase or a scooter chase or something, along the sewer. This could all kick off after they’ve finished building the sewer, but before the sewage is actually pouring along it. Maybe while people are inspecting it, to check that all is well, which is why it would be suitably illuminated.

Maybe the chase could precipitate the arrival of the actual sewage for the first time, prematurely, by something like a switch being knocked against by mistake. Both Bond and the Baddie could be overwhelmed by shit in the course of their chase. Along with a whole tribe of health and safety inspectors. That would get a cheer in cinemas.

Trouble is, I seem to recall the MI6 building being destroyed in a previous Bond movie. But what the hell. James Bond keeps being “reinvented”. So maybe the MI6 building could be reinvented, just as it always was before it got wrecked.

It turns out my recollection is faulty. The entire building did not get blown up (in Skyfall). There was merely a rather small explosion, destroying only Dame Judi Dench’s computer, inside the building.

Come to think of it, “Tideway” might be a rather good Bond movie title.

France is big

In the part of France where GodDaughter2’s family live and with whom I recently stayed, there are two ways to make a car journey. You can take what looks like the long route, along two or even three sides of a motorway rectangle, only travelling on little roads when you have to, to get to and from the motorway. Or, you can attempt to travel more directly, along little roads, by the scenic route. The scenic route looks quicker on the map, at first glance. But the motorways are quicker because they always go straight where they’re going. They don’t wiggle back and forth up and down mountains, or get stuck in little villages.

I was taken on various car journeys during my stay, of both kinds. The trips involving airports were on motorways, as were others. But there were also various journeys along those scenic routes.

Here are a few of the many, many photos I took while on such expeditions:

The thing is, France is (see above) big.

On one of these expeditions we drove for about four hours, hither and thither, up and down, through kilometre upon kilometre of gorgeous scenery, encountering about three other oncoming vehicles per hour. We crossed over numerous bridges as we switched from going down or up one side of a valley to going up or down the other side of the same valley, often able to see past nearby trees to distant mountains, but often not, passing through and sometimes stopping in towns or villages with orange tiled roofs.

Countryside in England of this desirability, in weather like this, would be swarming with motorists, all making it impossible for each other to have a good time. In the south of France, where this sort of weather is only average (too cold and windy) and where they have endless supplies of such scenery, we had the entire route pretty much to ourselves.

Also, in England, if you were to drive for half a day at the slowish but steady speed we were able to drive scenically in France, you’d take a visible bite into the map of England. In France, such a trip doesn’t register, nationally speaking. You’ve gone from this little place here, to this next little place right next to the first place, here, two milimetres away. As an exercise in crossing France, forget it. You have made no progress at all.

It’s not just places like America, Africa and India that are big. Compared to England, France is big too.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A nearly invisible new bridge from Battersea to Pimlico

There’s a bridge right near where I live that is wending its way through politics to the point where geography and physics and civil engineering will take over, and they will actually start building it.

I refer to the biking-and-walking-only bridge that will eventually join Battersea to Pimlico:

The bridge is at the stage where they are trying to pacify objectors to it. Hence this Canaletto-like pseudo-photo, in which the actual bridge itself is hardly to be seen at all! How could anyone possibly object to this wraith-like presence, scarcely visible through the mist rising from the river and bathing everything in obscurity? The steel struts that will eventually to be seen holding up the actual bridge are invisible in this pseudo-photo, so it’s just as well that the bridge itself, as (just about) seen here, is made by laser-beams projecting into the mist and weighs nothing at all! If you want to protest, protest about those big lumpy old boats clogging up the river and making such a rumpus, not the ghost bridge.

That’s the trouble with infrastructure. Those who will be disrupted by it know exactly who they are, or they think they do. But the far greater number of people who will have their lives somewhat improved by by this or that item of infrastructure only find out about this after it comes on stream. On in this case, on river.

My guess is: I will like this bridge, and will quite often walk across it, if only to avoid a there-and-back-the-same-way walk to and from Battersea. (Now, to avoid this, I often take the train from Battersea to Victoria, and then walk home from there, past my local supermarkets.) But that’s only a guess. Meanwhile, those who now live in the peace and quiet of Georgian Pimlico just know that their sleep will from now on be ruined by noisy bike gangs at 4am, making their way from Notting Hill (after a spot of carnival rioting) to Brixton, and if not by that then by something else equally unwelcome, perhaps originating in Battersea and walking across the river, while probably being drunk. Why take the chance? So, if they can stop the bridge, they’ll stop it, just to make sure.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

More photos from Monday January 28th

The Monday before last really was a very good photoing day. (I’ve been calling it Sunday but actually it was Monday, Monday January 28th. I remember at the time being confused about what day it was.)

First, seconds after I had stepped out into the sunlight, there was this:

That being me, in among the branches of the tree.

Then, following further excitements yet to be revealed, there was this lighting effect. And then there were these smartphone-photoing ladies. And then these guys, also photoing, with another shadow selfie added by me onto their backs.

Then I went past the Wheel, and gave that the Wheel and Tree treatment:

And just before it got dark, I ended up at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.

When it was dark, I climbed into Blackfriars Station, and walked over the river to Blackfriars Tube. And enjoyed the view, with its weird reflections of the station in the sky above the City Cluster:

I love how the black sky turns blue in that.

But before I went home, I dropped in on Waterstones, in Piccadilly, to see if the newly released paperback version of The Devil’s Dice was on show. And it was:

I am finding it exhausting just thinking about that day, and how it ended. It was very cold, and the cold takes it out of you, by which I mean me.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Sunrise on the way to Alicante (etc.)

Happy New Year to all my readers. Every time I go out to a party, I encounter people who read this thing, despite all its technical stupidities and despite the fact that the subject matter is just me musing aloud. So good morning to you all and I hope that not only I, but also you, have a good 2019. (Yes, I’m managing to keep up, approximately speaking, there also, where my musings are more structured and disciplined.)

This being Jan 1st, I offer you a sunrise:

Usually when the sky is that colour in my photos, it’s a sunset. But it all came back to me when I chanced upon these photos, of an expedition to Alicante. Basically, I visit all the bits of France and Spain that my ex-Quimper friends have or have had bits of property in. And they had a place in Alicante, or they rented it, or something. Maybe they still have it. So, I went to Alicante, in January 2010. And, the above photo was taken by me at a bus stop in Vauxhall Bridge Road, looking back across Vauxhall Bridge, while waiting for a bus to take me and all my holiday clobber in the opposite direction along Vauxhall Bridge Road to Victoria Station, where I eventually caught a bus to the airport. With much confusion, as I recall it, about exactly where the damn bus departed from. Had I not happened upon another traveller who knew, I might have missed that airplane.

All of which clarifies a fact that has for me become more and more clear over the years, that although blogs are not diaries, photo-archives are. I have photoed many photos which I would not even consider sticking up here. But they have all piled up on my hard disc. I live, you might say, a double life. There’s my, you know, life. And then there’s my photoed life, which I can relive any time I want, and see all my friends and relatives and remember all the private things we said and did, the way you people very rarely get even to hear about, never mind learn the private details of.

This blog, meanwhile, is a severely edited subsection of my diary, with some added words, added in a way that I hope doesn’t make me appear too ridiculous. Very different.

To add some words to the above photo, I realise that in addition to loving roof clutter, I am also becoming ever more fond of street clutter, which, due to the anarchic and non-mutually-communicating nature of London’s public sector, London possesses an abundance of. Much of it is, like most modern roof clutter, severely utilitarian, which I like, because nobody is trying to make it look pretty. But much ground clutter is very beautiful, especially London’s more showy street lamps.

Love the new keyboard. So solid and strong. Happiness is being able to check all the letters and symbols on your keyboard, as you type.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Renzo Piano’s new Genoa Bridge

Here is Renzo Piano’s design for a new bridge in Genoa to replace the one that collapsed:

Nice, I think. Does the job, with no fuss and much elegance.

A lot of the “photos” make this look like the Millau Viaduct. However, the spikes on the top are light fittings, not structural columns. All the load bearing is done by the columns under the roadway.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The secret is the back wheels

A slow motion catastrophe, all the more inevitable because this is, after all the internet. But, it doesn’t happen.

This popped up on my computer screen, courtesy of Facebook. What happened was was that I activated a video a Friend had stuck up, and this was what Facebook wanted me to see next. It looked like a nice little catastrophe to pass the time with, so I activated that as well. And although that catastrophe didn’t happen, what did happen was even better.

Do the people who arrange things like this play with toys beforehand? That would make sense.

Apparently Transport Blog may be coming back to life, any month now. But, it promises nothing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Like a bridge but not a bridge

On the same day, September 24th 2013, that I took all those artistic photos not of cranes, I also photoed something else that wasn’t a crane either. In addition to liking cranes I also like bridges, but this other something wasn’t a bridge either, despite looking a lot like one. I refer to this contrivance:

So far as I can work it out, this is a structure to protect a road against some power lines which are crossing that road. The road in question being the A1014, aka “The Manorway”, just before it runs out of puff at a roundabout.

I know. Why this one structure, there? What’s so special about these power lines? Were people about to start working on them, and were they scared that they might fall on the road and set light to a lorry laden with some highly inflammable liquid, of the sort they concern themselves with in Coryton? Could be. According to this, there used to be a refinery there (hence yesterday’s ruins). Now, there either already is or there is about to be a diesel import terminal. Yes, apparently this got going last year.

Maybe the structure I photoed is somehow a consequence of this change.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog