Recently purchased books

Photoed just now:

Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about
Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.

Excerpt from We Now Know, here. Could have downloaded a pdf of the whole thing. But, don’t like pdfs. Prefer books.

There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)

Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.

I love Amazon. I miss remainder shops.

A photo-expedition that started well and ended well

Today I went on a photo-expedition, my first big one since getting back from France. It went really well, but because it went so well, it also went on a long time, and now I only have enough energy to show you two of the many photos I photoed.

The first, before I got seriously started, while still on the way to St James’s Park tube, is of a crane of one sort making a crane of another sort:

That’s a process I love to see, but seldom chance upon. And because I got to stand right under all this drama, I got to see also how bendy the crane was that was lifting the big bit of the other crane into place. (I also got to think how it would be if that bendy crane snapped and everything came crashing down on top of me.)

And second, when the expedition was basically all done and I was at W.H. Smith Victoria buying the latest copy of Gramophone, I also spotted this:

It’s good to see that Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is out in paperback, and even better to see that W.H. Smith Victoria now have it as their book of the week.

And then when I finally got back home, I learned that, because Arsenal conceded a home equaliser to Brighton, Spurs are almost certainly going to be in the Champions League next season. (When I left home, Arsenal were a goal up, and were surely going to win, with disastrous consequences for Spurs.) Goal difference. All down to goal difference. Spurs have to lose 0-5 in their final game, and Arsenal have to win 5-0, or some such implausible combination of nonsenses that surely cannot happen – touch wood and hope to die.

A composer called John Smith (and a couple of comments)

Late yesterday afternoon, in Soho, I photoed this blue plaque:

At the time, I hardly even read it, because my eyesight is so rubbish. But I photoed a note.

And today, I was able to read this, about him. Smith. A new composer name for me. (I love the internet.) (The gap between the quality of my camera’s eyesight and the quality of my eyesight just grows and grows.)

Do you detect tiredness? If so, you are not wrong. I spent most of today transferring more stuff from the old blog to here, and suddenly, about half an hour ago, I could feel my ability to continue snap like a twig, which sadly included my ability to do much here of a more original sort. So, instead, of anything like that, that.

If you want to read something else added here today, read the first two authentic comments, that weren’t either me or Michael J just commenting to check out commenting, long before Wednesday’s Official Opening. There was Alastair solving this mystery. And Chuck Pergiel telling us how he feels about architecture. Sorry the delay approving those comments, gents. I only just discovered I had to.

The first of many here, I hope.

Something I forgot to mention

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection. All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated. But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France. Silly old me. I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

Those are the Pyrenees at the back there. In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy. Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Me and my camera at the ENO

Today, thanks to GodDaughter2, who is a singing student, I got to see a dress rehearsal of a new opera being staged by English National Opera called Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. I had my camera with me, but these places don’t encourage photography, so I was assuming I’d emerge from the Coliseum with only the memories of what we’d seen and heard.

The story was, of course, gruesome, and GodDaughter2 grumbled about the lighting, which was relentlessly dark and depressing. However, the music was pleasingly tonal, drenched in melodies, and most especially in harmonies, of a sort that seemed, in my youth half a century ago, like they’d vanished from the world of new opera for ever.

Back in that stricken post-Schoenbergian musical no-man’s-land, posh music was thought to “progress”, like science. And it had progressed up its own rear end into unmelodious, unharmonious, unrhythmic oblivion, and because this was progress, no way back was permitted. But then, that was all blown to smithereens by the likes of Philip Glass and John Adams. Iain Bell, the composer of Jack The Ripper, operates in the musical world established by those two American giants.

So even though we were about a quarter of a mile away from the action, up near the ceiling, and thus couldn’t make out anyone’s face, just being there was a most agreeable experience.

And then come the curtaln call at the end, there was another nice surprise:

That being the final surtitle of the show, to be seen in the spot up above the stage where all the previous surtitles had been saying what they had been singing. So I got my camera out, cranked up the zoom to full power, and did what I could.

The curtain calls looked like this:

I was particularly interested in the lady in the yellow dress, on the right of the four ladies (guess what they all had in common), because that lady was Janis Kelly, who is GodDaughter2’s singing teacher at the Royal College.

Rather disappointingly, for me, was that most of the photos I took of Ms Kelly were better of the lady standing next to her when they were taking their bows, a certain Marie McLaughlin:

But I did get one reasonably adequate snap of Ms Kelly, suitably cropped (the photo, I mean) to remove Ms McLaughlin, whose nose had been sliced off in the original version that had emerged from the camera:

My camera now has much better eyesight than I do, and the gap seems to grow by the month. Okay, that photo is rather blurry. But there was a lot of zoom involved. I only managed to decipher about a third of those surtitles. One of the key members of the cast was black, but I only found this out when I got home and saw her in one of my photos (see above).

I hope a DVD, or perhaps some kind of internetted video, of this production emerges. And I think it might, because this is a show full of pro-female messages of the sort that appeal to modern tastes, and featuring one of the most spectacular exercises in toxic masculinity in London’s entire history.

I’m now going to read the synopsis of the show at the far end of the first link above, to get a a more exact idea of what happened.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Now they’re planning a Frank Gehry concert hall in Wimbledon

The Guardian quips:

You wait decades for a city …

The city in question being London.

… to get a world-class concert hall and two come along at once.

GodDaughter2’s family used to live in Wimbledon, back in the last century. Something tells me I will be back there quite a lot in the next few years.

The first of these two halls is, I should say, this one.

How about another superb state-of-the-art concert hall somewhere in the Thames Estuary, out East. That would be very cool. Something like this. Maybe later, eh?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The new London concert hall at the Barbican takes a step forward

This looks promising. I’ve been waiting all my life for a really good London orchestral concert hall, to replace the abominable Royal Festival Hall, and it looks more and more like the City of London is going to oblige.

Here’s how they are now saying it will look:

Well, maybe it really will look like that.

Here’s what the outside will look like:

Combines being boring with being ungainly and awkward. But then, that was what I thought when I first saw the fake-photos for the Walkie-Talkie, and now I love that Thing. Maybe this Thing will play out the same. Hope so.

This is how the top of it will look:

This is apparently where the horror that is Jazz will be perpetrated. Sorry, if you like Jazz. If you like it, like away. But I hate it, ever since it stopped being pop music.

But, that view looks great. So, the question is: Do I like great views out over London, more than I hate Jazz?

A good way to learn more about this building, what it consists of and where it is, is to watch the video in this Classic FM report.

As for their report, I particularly like when they quote Simon Rattle, whose musical castle this will surely be:

At the press briefing for the new concept designs, Simon Rattle batted away concerns surrounding Brexit, saying: “It’s important for us to remember there are other things going on in this country other than Brexit.

“It won’t make anything easier, but we are trying to deal with something else at the moment. I think we also have to place our confidence in the extraordinary cultural life of this country, and support it.”

Life goes on. I sense that Brexit Acceptance may now be setting in.

They say it’s going to cost a mere £288 million. You can double that. But The City will surely find the money, and I am very glad that The City is having to find the money. I love classical music, more than life, but nobody who is indifferent to it should be forced to pay for the likes of me to listen to it being performed. (Any more than I should have to pay for Jazz.)

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Transcendence

I am now listening to this conversation between Roger Scruton and Jordan Peterson, about transcendence. While so listening, I found myself thinking back to this morning, when I listened to the first half of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, as recorded by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. I found listening to this recording to be an unsatisfying experience, which was why I did not also listen to the second half of it. For me (and I emphasise that this is only my personal take on this recording), what this recording lacks is … transcendence. To me, it sounds too brisk, too lively, too mundane, too earthly, too humdrum, too fussy. Too businesslike. Too lacking in legato. Not enough grandeur.

To repeat the point in brackets above: many, listening to this same recording, will hear exactly the virtues which, for my ear, it lacks. Gardiner himself was certainly aiming at transcendance:

That is the cover of this Gardiner recording, which is put out by Gardiner’s own label, Soli Deo Gloria, and Gardiner will definitely have approved that cover.

Neverthless, tomorrow, I think I will search in my CD collection for a different and older recording of this work, a less “authentic” one, the one conducted by Eugen Jochum. This one.

Pause.

During that pause, I conducted that search, so that tomorrow morning I won’t have to search, or to remember that I must so search. The CDs will be there, next to my CD player.

I also encountered, in one of the Amazon reviews of Jochum’s Bach B Minor Mass, praise for his recording of the Bach Christmas Oratorio. I also placed this next to my CD player.

Christmas is, after all, coming.

And, what do you know? The B Minor Mass gets an explicit mention in the Scruton/Peterson conversation. 1 hour 18 minutes in.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Stow-Away in Lower Marsh

Stow-Away is a recent arrival in Lower Marsh:

Stow-Away is a new sustainable and eco friendly apart hotel concept. Stow-Away Waterloo is our first London base made from 26 re-purposed shipping containers, stylishly designed to provide a snug comfortable Stow-Away sleeping experience.

Lots of people have tried to do architecture with old shipping containers, but personally I doubt if it makes much sense. But, if your task is to sell hotel rooms, then shipping containers are perhaps a good gimmick, for attracting attention and for giving guests something to talk about. “I slept in a shipping container.” Etc. I’ve never done this.

It got my attention:

I enjoy in particular the various reflections there.

All but the last of these photos were photoed in one burst, last September. The final photo was photoed more recently, in the evening.

I think this hotel is quite good fun, especially those strange looking shades, red on the inside, that are a feature of the front. But, I regret the trend of which this “apart hotel” is a part, which is the transformation of Lower Marsh from a fascinating and quite cheap thoroughfare, full of diverting shops and eateries, into a dreary and expensive thoroughfare, stripped of all those diverting shops and eateries.

This happens all the time. A street contains lots of lively and amusing stuff. Word of that liveliness spreads, and the rents then go through the roof. The liveliness is priced off to another part of town. Such is urban life.

What I am really saying is: RIP Gramex. Follow that link and you find “an important message to our much-valued customers”. That would be me. But this “important message” is dated 4th August 2017. I gave up hope at least a year ago.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Homage to Hartley: The V&A under a very blue sky

I tried to put together a more complicated posting about, well, wait and see. But it is taking too long, so here is something simpler.

A favourite blogger of mine is Mick Hartley, who oscillates between the insanities of the anti-semites and the Islamists (heavy overlap there) and photos. Photos by himself, and by others.

The photos by others are often antique and black and white. His photos are in colour, and they are typically very colourful indeed, especially when the sky is very blue.

Colour is an obsession of Hartley’s, both when it is present, and when it is not.

Here is a photo I recently took, which is the sort of photo Mick Hartley would take, if he ever went West:

That’s the Victoria and Albert Museum, unless I am mistaken (as I might well be), photoed by me from the big old road that goes from the Albert Hall (and more to the point from the Royal College of Music, where GodDaughter 2 had been performing) down to South Kensington Tube. This I know, because of a photo I took of a street map, moments after taking my Hartleyesque photo above:

That being the relevant detail. I never regret map photos.

By the look of it, the V&A is a building I should explore. Especially its upper reaches. Maybe there are views.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog