Two people and two things I am missing

From the photo-archives, December 2014:

That’s a photo of two of my favourite people, GodDaughter2 and GodDaughter2’s Mum, walking by the sea, somewhere on the coast of Brittany. Think of this photo as my version of what we are all going through now, not being able to socialise with those we would most like to be socialising with.

Here are a couple more Things I’ll miss:

Those are the Twin Towers of Quimper Cathedral, all photoed on the same trip, in December of 2014 and January of 2015. Quimper being the city in Brittany where they all lived for quite a while. But that while is now gone, so no more trips to Quimper for me.

Think of these four photos as photos of Quimper Cathedral, that being what they are.

Thoughts concerning To-Do lists

I have an ongoing To-Do list, consisting of a list of thoughts, in no particular order, just as they come to me, of subjects for postings that I might do here. One of the things that ought to be on my basic To-Do list, the one concerning my entire life, is: Regularly consult my Blog To-Do list. Because, it has been some while since I last did this.

But, this morning, wondering what to put here today to get things started, I did consult my Blog To-Do list (“2write4BMNB.doc”). I was curious to see (a), how many items were on the list, and (b), how many of these suggested postings I had actually done. I did not know the answer to (a), how many items there were on the list, but I was pretty confident that the answer to (b), how many of these posting I had actually done, would be zero. Because it so often is zero, when you come across a To-Do list of any sort, I find.

I’m not sure why this is, for me I mean, but I have a guess to offer. I don’t think it’s only that I am sorely lacking in willpower, although that is definitely part of it. There’s also the fact that To-Do lists don’t really contain the things that you really want to do, because if you had really wanted to do this or that, you would simply have done it, rather than put it on a mere list of things to do. I surmise, as many have before me, me included (but don’t now recall when or where), that the real purpose of To-Do lists is to decrease somewhat the chances of totally forgetting an idea about what to do that you actually don’t now want to do, but which you might later actually want to do, if only you could then remember it. To-Do lists keep alive memories of things that might one day be good to do. To-Do lists alleviate anxiety, about “forgetting” (see above) things To-Do.

The human mind is a big place. A mansion rather than a mere room, again as many have already said before me. It contains many facts and memories, hopes and fears, and it contains in particular many notions about things that you might one day want to do. You “forget” many of these. But, when reminded of this or that item you once were thinking about doing, you immediately “remember” whatever it was, and give it further thought. Maybe, then, you do it. And all because once upon a time you put it on a To-Do list.

Anyway, like I said several paragraphs ago, today I did consult my most recent Blog To-Do list. And here was the score. There were (a) ten items on the list. My recollection was that there were somewhat more than that. But no: Ten. But get this. How many of these ten had I done? The answer was an amazing, mind-boggling, in fact downright triumphant: Two. Two!!!! That’s twenty percent. I have actually done two of these postings! This is an astounding score, and I am hugely impressed by it.

For the record, the two postings in question were entitled: A national tree contrast and Two cats and a squirrel above the China Works Tower front door.

Remarkable. Truly remarkable. Hence, today, remarked upon.

June 6th etc. in ten seconds

I like this:

But I’d like it a lot more if it was slowed down. Or at least slowable down. The early stages when it was fairly static work well. The later bits, when the Americans raced around the south, creating the Falaise Pocket, and then how that Pocket emptied, are too quick to tell the story. You have to know it already.

Even so, what a story.

A national tree contrast

Two photographers-whom-I-follow do trees.

Martin Cook, in England:

That photo reminds me of this urban equivalent, although to be an exact rhyme, it would need a big bird in the middle.

Charlie Waite, in France:

Waite says, of his trees:

Any tree avenue is reminiscent of a cathedral nave …

Especially a tree avenue where the distances between trees and tree sizes have been so precisely contrived, and where failure to achieve identical size is just that: failure. If Wait hadn’t said that, the rest of us would still have thought it.

Anyway, my point is: I seem to recall quite often seeing effects similar to Waite’s, while being driven around France by GodDaughter2’s parents, over the years. I’m pretty sure I have photos in my archives to prove and illustrate that observation, although nothing as dramatic as Waite’s wonderful photo, a classic Real Photographer achievement, and surely the product of lots of preparation, exact timing, weather watching (daily and seasonal), and general photo-expertise. (Or maybe just high class opportunism. Whatever. I think it’s very good.)

In England, on the other hand, avenues seldom have this architectural precision about them, or not as often. Yes the trees are sometimes evenly spaced, and approximately the same size, but there isn’t the utter determination to keep them the exact same shape. Having planted them, the tree carers follow a set of rules about how to care for them, for instance by pollarding them, but the outcome is whatever it is. Variations on a theme, rather than bang: theme!

It is tempting to see this as an expression of the French delight in obedience to official rules, while the more anarchic English way is more expressive of English anarchy, and English resistance to official rules. A temptation I think I choose to give way to and indulge in. It seems improbable that there are any “practical” reasons for the difference, like the French trying to contrive a particular sort of timber, in the one best way.

I think each country is getting what it wants.

Another Twitter dump

I had a Twitter dump earlier. It feels so good to be getting this stuff out of my system, so here’s another. Again, in no particular order, and not chosen for bang-up-to-dateness, just funness and interestingness.

It maybe makes things a bit clearer if I indent the tweet references, and then unindent at the end, at which point I’ll be having a bit more to say:

What concrete blocks are made of in China.


The Battle of France in 44 seconds.

This family built a hug guard.

Baihe reservoir (白河水庫) in Tainan county is at once both shockingly ugly and stunningly beautiful.

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen says there haven’t been all that many terrorist attacks in Israel.

Everyone who was worrying he was a fascist now worrying he’s not fascist enough.

150-foot iceberg passes through Iceberg Alley.

My boyfriend cheated on me, but, I love him. What should I do? A Georgist: Implement a land value tax.

James Burke had only one chance to film this scene, and the result is possibly the best timed shot in television history.

Jeremy Corbin won the argument.

The lockdown is ending because the American people say it’s ending.

I miss those carefree pre-coronavirus days when nobody died at all.

In each of the above cases, you get most of the tweet, and sometimes all of it. So, if all you want to know is what the tweet said, no need to click. But if you want to know who else besides me thought the tweets in question to be funny or interesting, click away.

And that has actually done the trick. To my great surprise I have actually cleared out all this tweetery from my hard disc and from now on my computer will surely be functioning better, until such time as I need another similar dump. There remain only a few animal-related tweets which are already scheduled to appear this coming Friday.

The first two photos on the old blog

I have resumed copying old postings over from the old blog to the New Blog. The situation with linking to the old blog has got worse. It used to be that it merely said “Dangerous” in scary red lettering, at the beginning of the link. Now the entire destination is turning bright red. You can still find your way to the old blog if you really want to, but the red screen is decidedly offputting. All the more reason for me to shovel stuff over to here.

This time around, instead of just picking postings at random, or because I wanted to link back to them, I simply started at the beginning. Mostly it is highly unrecommendable housekeeping babble, although don’t let me stop you looking at it if you really want to. But, the first two photos on the old blog struck me as really good and worth another look.

First, this photo, of a photoer, photoing away in Parliament Square, featured in this posting:

What’s so good about this is that (a) the camera is now so antiquated, but that also (b) we can observe a now obsolete tourist habit, that of staggering around London with a camera in one hand and a big old map in the other. Now, all of the above is done, and done much better, with a tiny little thing smaller than the camera she’s using.

There’s even a Parliament Square statue in the background.

I’m pretty sure I chose this photo quite carefully, for the honour of being the first photo on the new blog, as it then was. But even if your opinion of this photo differs from mine, then and now, you’ve got to agree that this second one is pretty cool:

The bridge of the century so far, and no sign of anything better coming any time soon.

Sadly, the third photo is pretty crap.

Fifteen dancing ladies in 1923

I have now well and truly caught the Shorpy habit (from Mick Hartley mostly). Usually the photos at Shorpy are of Americans, but these ladies dancing (or just posing?) on a beach are British, although the beach is American:

Shorpy calls these ladies a “millipede”, but there are only fifteen of them. Most of them are holding the lady behind’s leg up, but the one at the front has to keep her leg up unaided, and the one at the back is doing no lifting. Just thought I’d mention it.

More seriously, changing fashions in figures is a fascinating subject. These ladies look to me a wee bit more plump than their equivalents now.

I remember noticing when Indian movie stars stopped being fat, and thinking: those Indians are finally eating properly. Good news. High status Indians no longer needed to prove they could afford to eat. They needed to prove that they could resist the desire to eat too much. I’m guessing that 1923 in Britain was still a time when food was somewhat scarce, albeit not as scarce as when these paintings were done.

I spend a lot more effort and time photoing and presenting my own photos than I do searching for good photos by other people. Basically, I let people like Mick Hartley do it for me. And Shorpy. Also this guy (I love that one). Any other photography suggestions would be most welcome.

Why are two horses wading in a playground?

A lot of my postings are puzzles. What’s this about? That kind of thing.

Well, what’s this about?:

That’s another photo I took last Sunday, the day I also photoed that reflection, and all those cyclists. A single photo-expedition, supplying me with many days worth of reflection, of the in-your-brain kind. Suddenly, in these strange times when venturing out of doors is so discouraged, my normal modus operandi is making more sense than usual.

Photoing children’s playgrounds is not a habit of mine. Single old man, of eccentric demeanour and dress, taking photos. Of a children’s playground. Not a good look these days. But this playground is now locked shut and empty of humans, so I reckon having photoed these two horses won’t ruin my life. We’ll see.

But what are these horses doing? The playground in question is at the far end of Victoria Tower Gardens, just upstream from the Houses of Parliament, so I had plenty of search words to stuff into The Internet. And it became clear that these horses refer to a nearby horse ferry, the one that Horseferry Road is named after. The playground is Horseferry Playground. But this creation is not grand enough to be easily learnable about. The Internet kept wanting to tell me about these two horses. But not the ones I was looking for.

As for Horseferry Road, let Wikipedia explain:

The road takes its name from the ferry which existed on the site of what is now Lambeth Bridge. Owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ferry was an important crossing over the Thames, from Westminster Palace to Lambeth Palace.

Presumably the horses dragged the ferry across, at a spot where there was also a ford, i.e. a part of the river where you could walk across at low tide. Or, horses could. Something like that. But why can’t you just row a boat across, anywhere on the River? Or did people ride the horses?

The spot where these horses are to found is next to the northern end of Lambeth Bridge, which is of course also the southern end of Horseferry Road.

Horseferry Road does its right angle kink very near to where I live, but it never occurred to me to wonder why it’s called that. This is London. Things have strange names. If you spent your time wondering about every strange name of everything strange sounding in London, you’d never be able to do anything else with your life. In France, all the street names are explained, on the spot, with elaborate explanatory signs. Not here.

Le bar à chats in Perpignan

As already much mentioned this week, I was in the south of France exactly a year ago, and as also already mentioned, exactly a year ago yesterday, I and various members of GodDaughter2’s family, including GD2 herself, were in Perpignan.

While there we stopped off at a tea version of a coffee bar whose USP is that the place, in addition to whatever human customers it can attract, is the home also of lots of cats:

That’s GD2’s Mum photoing through the front window in the final photo there.

The cats didn’t seem that pleased to see us. I suspect that cats who live with lots of other cats are more, well, catlike, and less inclined to interest themselves in humans and their preoccupations, in particular the human desire, when meeting a cat, to stroke it. These cats were not interested in being stroked, and they paid attention to us only when we got too close. They had other things on their minds, things of their own. Or so it seemed to me. I took many photos, and only one is of a cat being stroked. It was not that happy about it.

That they were not paying us that much attention brought home to me the fact that what we humans crave from each other, and failing that from our pets, is that very thing: attention. Mixing with creatures that resembled pets, but who were behaving in this crucial way not at all like actual pets, brought this point home very strongly.

As we left, I remembered to take a photo-note of the place, …:

… which means I can now easily find and supply a link.

When photoing, always remember to take photo-notes.

Perpignan photos

A year ago yesterday I was in St Cyprien, and a year ago today I was in Perpignan. However, I was in Perpignan again on January 9th of this year, when the weather was much better and hence so were my photos. Here is a selection of the photos I took then, there:

Not only was the weather better last January than it had been in April of last year; there was also a temporary Wheel in place (photos 20, 21, 22, 26). And (see photo 9) there was an exhibition on of some photos by former President of France Jacques Chirac. How about that?

A feature of any visit to Perpignan is, or should be, a journey to the department store called Galeries Lafayette (the big white building in photo 18), the views from the top of which are excellent (photos 19-28). The views on the way down from the stairs are pretty good too (photos 28-30).

Other than that, it was the usual. Amusing signs in French, roof clutter, strange plants, pollarded trees, various sorts of sculpture ancient and modern, bridges, left over Christmas signs, a motorbike. All good stuff, and all looking much better in the much better light there was in Perpignan on April 9th. Click and enjoy.