Pavlova dances – backed by a line of cranes

From 2014. Cranes, having spent the day transforming the top end of Victoria Street, relax by going out dancing with Pavlova:

The statue is carefully contrived to look beautiful. The cranes are just cranes. No aesthetics went into them at all. Yet they look beautiful also.

Spot the traffic light.

Der Bomber

The things you find in your photo-archives, if you are someone like me and you forget two thirds of what you’ve photoed as soon as you’ve photoed it.

This bloke, for instance, whom I photoed somewhere or other in London, I think somewhere near Embankment tube station, way back in 2006:

You see lots of shirts in London with stuff like this on the back, and without reading the small print, I assumed, as I surely assumed at the time I took the photo, that this was a reference to some sort of rock and roll combo, travelling and doing gigs in various places. In this case, it was probably techno-pop, because that’s the sort of music something called “Der Bomber” would do. Bit of a tactless name, though, if they’re trying to make friends while performing in foreign parts.

It was only when I googled “der bomber” that I discovered that this shirt was celebrating the German footballer Gerd Müller. And he wasn’t trying to make friends with foreigners. Her was trying to beat them at football, and more often than not succeeding. And nor was he really having a “Welt Tour”. He was playing in the World Cup, in 1970 in Mexico, and then in 1974 in … Germany.

Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

The passions that used to attach themselves to bombing now have to find another outlet, and that outlet is now, mostly, sport. I believe that in recent months we have experienced what a gap is left in our world when sport is lacking. The sooner our politicians feel able to allow people back into sports stadiums, there to cheer on their preferred “bombers”, the better.

Strange transport (but no taxis with adverts)

I’ve been spending time looking for taxis with adverts in the archives. When did this photo-habit of mine cut in? It turns out, much later than I thought. Throughout the entire period of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, I only properly photoed, as in deliberately photoed for its taxiness and its advertness, one taxi. One. I photoed it twice, on two different occasions several months apart. But then, for two years and more, nothing. No taxis with adverts whatsoever. I’ll get around to that taxi soon, maybe, I promise nothing.

Meanwhile, however, I was already fascinated by other sorts of transport, of the weird kind. Transport like this:

Two yellow. Two black. A car. A trike. Two motorbikes. A sidecar. And a pillock of a cyclist, getting in the way of that amazing yellow tandem motorbike, may the Plague strike him dead. I’d never seen a tandem motorbike like that before, and I’ve never seen one since.

For those who care, we’re near Waterloo, on Tower Bridge, in Portobello Road, and in the City of London.

There were lots of other strange contraptions I might have included in this posting, but I am aware that during the last day or two, things have slowed down a bit here, and I wanted to post something quick, before doing some essential shopping. Something more this evening, I hope.

An England v West Indies memory – at least I got how the stumps looked afterwards

Tomorrow, assuming I have it right, a test match begins between England and the West Indies, in Southampton. There’ll be no spectators, but they’ve all played either English county cricket or whatever is the equivalent in the West Indies, so the players will know how to handle that, no worries.

My favourite moment in an England West Indies test match happened in July 2004 at Lord’s, when Ashley Giles, England’s skilled but nevertheless rather journeyman-type spin bowler, bowled Brian Lara, the West Indian batting superstar.

I photoed it. Well, I did a photo about a quarter of a minute after it had happened:

There you can just about make out Lara, trudging off into the distance, while Giles is mobbed by his team-mates.

Giles knocked back Lara’s middle stump. How do I know that? Because it’s in my photo, which I only just realised, because only just now did I examined it properly:

Crop, sharpen, and there it is. My Canon A70 was pretty terrible by today’s standards, but it was good enough to show that. YouTube confirms it (never seen that before). Giles’s hundred wicket in test cricket, apparently. Blog and learn.

England bowled the West Indies out that day and won the match. Scorecard here.

Afterwards I watched the highlights on telly. I remember thinking how much more informative these were than actually being there. But despite that, less entertaining.

First photos with the FX150

I can still remember the Great Leap Forward that the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 “bridge” camera was. For me if not for all of photoer-kind. For me, the best “bridge camera” I could have was my perfect camera. Tons of zoom, but no faffing about with different lenses to at once capture whatever sscene presented itself to me, near or far.

I went rootling through the photo-archives looking for some early photos I photoed with this wondrous new contrivance, looking at the first photo-expeditions I embarked upon, along the River, to the Victoria Docks, or just to Westminster Abbey and Bridge, to photo my fellow photoers, to pick out some photos that brought back the shock of pleasurable surprise I had when I first got my hands on it.

But then I realised I was looking in the wrong place. What I needed to see were not merely some “early” photos, photoed days or even weeks after I got this super-camera. What I wanted to see were the absolute first photos I took with this camera, on January 26th 2012.

And the very first one of all was this:

That scene, of my kitchen window and surroundings as seen from my swivel chair around which most of my life revolves, if you get my meaning. (It’s the chair that does the actual revolving.) I am happy to report that the big grey Thing, bottom left, which was for making ice, has been replaced by a slightly bigger black box, which also makes ice, and also looks after food of many other sorts, including in particular ice cream. Otherwise, nothing has changed.

On each side of the window are CD shelves, and the next few photos I photoed were all close-ups of CDs, edge on:

That was when it hit me, and I believe I can still remember this glorious moment. This was the camera I had been waiting for, all my life. The key point was not just that these were successful photos of distant details. I can tell from the numbering of these photos in the archive that there were no failures. None. All of my first dozen or so photos with this new camera came out fine, even the one of my pop music department, which was where it still is, way off to the left and way up near the ceiling.

Only the following day did I photo anything beyond my front door.

The first outdoor photo I photoed with my new FZ150 was this, dated January 27th, i.e. the following day, just before it got dark:

That’s looking across Vincent Square at the building activity in and around Victoria Street, which has been pretty much continuous, one place or another, for the last decade. Mmmmmm, cranes.

Since then, I have upgraded to the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 and then to the FZ330. But they are both really just the FZ150 with frills added. If my current camera, the FZ330 were to be snatched away from me, and I was given another FZ150 and told that this would be my last camera, I’d not be that bothered. Were I told that I would have to go back to the crappy camera I had before the FZ150, that would be a disaster. Soon after acquiring this FZ150, I wrote about it at some length for Samizdata. This confirms what, up until re-reading that, I had merely remembered. The FZ150 really was a huge step forward.

Hurrah for capitalism. It really is ridiculous that the world’s schools are now cranking out a whole new generation of nitwits, an appallingly significant proportion of whom seem genuinely to want to put a stop to this glorious process.

A rush hour traffic jam!

Yesterday, late afternoon, in Vauxhall Bridge Road:

Okay, not the prettiest photos, either aesthetically or technically, that you’ll see today. But that’s not my point. My point is: London is now getting back to whatever it decides is going to be the new normal, and you can bet that the new normal will include rush hour traffic jams, whatever else turns out not to be present any more.

On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

And one scene with no crowd

Last night I did a posting of crowd scenes, all photoed on June 30th 2019.

While gathering those photos together, I also came across this one, photoed by me during that same walkabout, one year and one day ago. It’s quite a contrast, I think you will agree:

He looks like he might have been a very recent arrival, from somewhere rather nearer to Wuhan than London is. At the time, I photoed him simply because here was a human whose face was covered and therefore fair game for blogging.

Did he already know something that we, then, didn’t know?

Crowd scenes by the River a year ago

On June 30th 2019, I was out walking, beyond and then on Tower Bridge, then back along the south side of the River, and then across to Embankment Tube and home. Here are some photos from that day, of crowd scenes:

At the time, I often thought I was photoing something quite other than mere people, in a crowd. At the time, the mere fact of lots of people all bunched up together didn’t mean much. It does now.