Beside the Thames at Laleham

Laleham is a place beside the River Thames, just south of Staines. I grew up a bit beyond Egham, which is the next station on the Reading Line from Staines. But I don’t recall ever going to Laleham.

Until this afternoon, when I went walking alongside the river there, with my friend Rob and his two young sons, who live around there. We made our way to a spot near the river in the family car, got out and walked along the river and then inland a bit to a pub, ate and drank in the pub, and then retraced our steps. Rob and I walked, and his boys were on their bikes. A most agreeable way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

The road we walked and biked along is called Thames Side. On the left, as we went pubwards, posh houses. On the right, the river, and attached to the bank on the other side, rather smaller and less posh but still very desirable dwellings, mostly rather shed-like bungalows.

Thus:

All of which made a pleasing change from my usual Thames-related photo-destinations, which are mostly to the east of me. Places like Laleham, out west, are basically finished. I don’t suppose the above scenes looked that much different to how things were when I was a kid, living around there. But the stuff out east, especially the stuff beyond Tower Bridge, is being constructed and reconstructed on a huge and hectic scale, even as I blog and even as you read.

This new blog makes it a lot easier to stick up a clutch of photos like this one, compared to how hard this kind of thing was to do at the old blog. And it is also a lot easier for you to view all these photos. You can just click on the first one, and then get to the next one with just one click, and then on to the next with one more click, and so on. A great improvement.

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.

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.

Quota photo of a signpost

Yes, I like to photo signposts. You know where you are, with signposts.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is. There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was – come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine. And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night. Dominique Lazanski: very good. My front room: very full. Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting. So, I was. (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered. So, I was.

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

Wet riser inlet

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about. Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Spring in the air

Yes, I and a friend took a stroll around Stoke Newington this afternoon, and despite the drabness of the weather, spring was in the air.

And as if to confirm Spring will indeed be with us very soon, if it’s not here already, this was the scene outside the Anglo Spice Grill:

There were many other Stoke Newingtonian sights – animal, vegetable and mineral – to be seen and to be photoed, but today was a tiring day, with another activity in the evening before I finally got around to doing this. So that will have to be your lot.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

ULEZ?

When I saw and photoed this sign, in London, yesterday afternoon …:

…, I thought it was some kind of electronic malfunction. ULEZ? Is that real? Only one way to find out. The Internet.

And the Internet was in no doubt. ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone. Question answered.

I just wanted to know if ULEZ was real. It is. The details, for now anyway, interest me less. If you want to know more about ULEZ, you now have the acronym and the knowledge that it stands for something real, and you can learn all you want.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

I love London

Another shop window photo, photoed by me on the same day as I photoed, this, this, and this:

Click on that to get it quite a bit bigger than usual. It deserves the detail.

I have long considered the stuff in tourist stuff shops to be an underrated object of photo-devotion.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A different way to open a car door

Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support. Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:

Two interesting things about this little gizmo. First, there is the way that its door opens. The door on its right is open, in the above photos. Useful in a tight space, I should guess.

And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this. It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.

I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes. I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once. Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog