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|Sunday, January 18th, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Twenty -Three and Twenty-Four - December
Finally we made it (somewhere a needle drops and Pulp's 'The Day After the Revolution' plays) 2014 is finally over. I know it fucked a lot of people over and I might not have got all I wanted out of it but personally it wasn't too bad a year. It gave me 'Only Lovers Left Alive' and the accompanying soundtrack, it gave me Andy Weir's 'The Martian' which you should all read now before Ridley Scott makes a fucking terrible film of it like every other fucking terrible film he's made in his life (seriously, the guy's not had any decent ideas for thirty-five years, how does he still get to make films in this day and age?).
If there is hope, it lies in the proles. But hope? We must do without hope. At least we may yet be avenged. Let us gird ourselves and weep no more. Come! We have a long road, and much to do.
This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/650543.html. Please comment there using OpenID. Current Mood: accomplished
|Friday, January 16th, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. SPECIAL BONUS ROUND!
To promote the new Paddington Bear movie there was one of those gotta find them all!' things towards the end of last year with plaster models of Paddington decorated by anyone foolish enough to pick up their phones when the promoters called. I found almost all of them, of the ones I didn't, one was at Heathrow and I wasn't going to go all the way there just to get a picture of that, one was in Covent Garden but I just couldn't find it (the place was so busy with Christmas shoppers I suspect it hadn't been put out the day I visited for fear of blocking foot traffic even further) and one I just plain forgot about. As with the elephants and the Easter eggs of previous years the decorations were a mix of inspired, amusing and dull. The ones above are probably my favourites but again you can see (almost all) the rest on my Flickr
.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/650442.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Nineteen and Twenty - October
It's a regret for me that I didn't get more of the London LOOP done last year. Partly I didn't have time, partly I just clean forgot about it for a chunk of the summer and partly people I was going to walk with weren't available. In the end I walked two sections totalling around 20 miles by myself in October before the days got too short. Transport for London have apparently taken down the website with all the details for the London LOOP and all the other chain walks in London. Certainly doing these two sections I found it often difficult to work out which way I was supposed to go and several times went completely the wrong way and had to double back. So far I've been saved from disaster because the route has still been in the bounds of my London A-Z. The next walk goes outside that. I think on the ground signage is being vandalised and not being replaced or repaired which is a shame. I finished up the year in the commuter land beyond South Croydon. Must do better this year.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/649840.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Thursday, January 15th, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Seventeen and Eighteen - September
My only real problem with Open House
is that it has become a victim of its own success. There are so many great places to visit but for any number of them, if you want to visit them, then you've got to keep your day free because you will be spending it all queueing to get in. And because so many of the places have Open House events staffed by volunteers access can be quite limited beyond issues like queueing. The City of London section of the Open House guide is notorious for the number of places that are only open on the Saturday. My way, impossible though it would be, would be to have Open House Week, to give us proper access, even though a large number of these buildings aren't public. This time I was lucky to get tickets for the Mansion House. We were told we couldn't take photos, this lasted until the majority of us realised the few that were ignoring this ban weren't being punished in any way. After that, we were all at it. The previous week I had got a list of all the churches that were taking part in Open House. I spent the rest of the day walking round the City of London visiting various of these and comparing and contrasting their different approaches to worship, from the incense heavy Saint Magnus the Martyr to the more modern Dutch church, from the welcoming Saint Lawrence Jewry to the hard sell of Saint Helen Bishopsgate where a tomb inside the church had been repurposed as a book stall selling books about how evolution was wrong.
Walking around the city for Open House drew my attention to Sculpture in the City 2014
, a thing of which I was not previously aware, to put artwork where busy financial people could lounge against it chain-smoking their way through their lunch breaks. They were close together so not difficult to find, although one piece had been removed and another piece was a large box which was supposed to have a band inside playing though sadly although the artworks were in place for several months the band only performed short gigs on a couple of dates which had already passed by the time I found out about them. I always find it odd walking round the financial districts during weekdays as though I'm trespassing somewhere I have no right to be. I certainly find it unpleasant to do since the smoking ban came into force, it seems as though there are more people outside smoking and I find myself hurrying past the doorways of buildings where sad men and women stand and shiver and smoke.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/649533.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Fifteen and Sixteen - August
Two walks I did in August. The first was down to Richmond Park. I passed through it briefly when doing the Capital Ring several years ago and although I meant to go back often since then I'd never quite got my act together to do it. I will need to visit it again, my thought was that I would do a complete, or near complete, walk around the perimeter starting from one of the north gates and either finish there or, at least a western gate so I could walk into Richmond. What happened in the end was that I made it about a third of the way around and then joined the Capital Ring route through the middle and down to Richmond station. In my defence I had walked down from North Sheen station and detoured into the cemetery first. Oh well, there's always next summer.
I don't know whether it's just me but whenever I've seen a suggestion about walking along the Regents Canal path it always seems to be talking about the Western side of the Regents Canal. The route from Warwick Avenue along the path to Camden Lock is not very long that seems to be one that is often recommended. I have never seen anything suggesting to people that once the canal re-emerges from under Islington but it's worth people's time to continue alongside it. But then, until last August I wasn't really consciously aware that the Regents Canal did come out from the underground again, so maybe my ignorance of the latter is the reason for my ignorance of the former also. Of the two sides I think the East actually beats the West. From Little Venice to Camden Town the canal is mostly in a gully, uninteresting stone and then overhanging trees at Regents Park. Sure, you might get a glance of a warthog or some rare bird as you go past the zoo but it's unlikely. The eastern side has a variety of different views, the canal is now closer to street level so you could stop off Haggerston and visit the Hackney City Farm or take a break in Victoria Park. At Mile End you bypass the aggressive swans and, if you walk away from the river for a short while you can cross over the Mile End Road via the green bridge. True, the canal does reach the Thames through uninspired Limehouse attempts to redevelop itself as a playground for the ultra rich and their yachts but it's still a worthy journey and you can continue west through Shadwell, which I've always found to be a curious collection of narrow streets. Even Wapping has its charm now that the News International stench has finally been lifted.
This photo was from just before I joined the eastern Regents Park path. Found in Duncan Terrace Gardens near the Angel tube station it brings the concept of close neighbourhood housing, such as the tower blocks that loom nearby, to nest boxes. I was here at the wrong time of year to see, I wonder if any of these boxes get used by birds in the spring?
This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/649417.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Thirteen and Fourteen - July
Skomer Island is a truly wonderful place. After walking around it for a day I wanted to break out in spontaneous applause twice. Once for nature evolving such a beautiful island and then to humankind, for not fucking something so incredible up for once. If you happen to find yourself in Pembrokeshire then I strongly recommend you check the place out
. The time when I visited, early July, seems to be in the sweet spot. The birds are finishing the raising of their young but the various different migratory groups haven't yet started to leave. One of the oddest things I've seen is a huge cliff face covered in thousands of birds all screeching as loud as they can. Tourist access to the island is controlled by boat. After driving down slowly narrowing country roads you reach a car park. After buying a timed ticket you are directed down to the beach. Boats take four or five groups of people out in the morning and then bring them back in the afternoon. After climbing up the path from where the boat mores on Skomer you are met by guides who explain the rules of the island which basically boil down to 'don't be dicks'. You then get 4 to 5 hours to do what you want and go where you want. We didn't dilly-dally much and still didn't get to see everything there is to see. But when the people selling the tickets in the shop at the start advise you take a hat and a bottle of water they are not just trying to sell you stuff for the sake of it, it's exposed head land and you could get sunburnt and you can get thirsty.
If you want to, you can see all my photos from my day out here
Ah the Lambeth Country Show, showing other country shows how to show their country. I did feel a bit 'meh' about it this year, possibly because I went on my own and I think it's something best enjoyed through the medium of drinking Pimms with chums while looking at children melting down over their melted ice creams. Also, the rain, although I was heading home by this time anyway.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/649034.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Monday, January 5th, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Eleven and Twelve - June
And so, we reach a month when there's so much to choose from. This was the month when T.F.L. had their display of buses through the ages up the length of Regent Street. This was the month that the Serpentine Gallery showed yet again that giving stupid amounts of money to artists won't dissuade them from vomiting terrible pavilion designs in your back garden. But in the end it was Brazil day in Trafalgar Square for the World Cup kick-off (boom tish!) with the people demonstrating up on the terrace and the life-size table football down by the lions. I was surprised by the fact I got quite into watching football this summer. If you treat the England team as the clowns on at the start then it becomes quite exciting when they're out of the way to watch the trapeze acts, the would-be lion tamer's and the high wire performers. I picked a team to support only because one of the players was named after a Marvel superhero.
The other picture is of David Rosenberg, who took a party of us on a fascinating tour of Islington and Clerkenwell, pointing out the offices of the A.N.C-in-exile, Lenin's flat and the graves of clowns. His website is East End Walks
and you should all go on at least one of them this year.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/648853.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Nine and Ten - May
Oh the divine Mister Gaultier. The travelling exhibition that touched down in the Barbican last Spring was a feast for the eyes even if they stubbornly refused to give any perspective on how the man's work developed over time. It was a little galling but on reflection I think I just wanted it all for myself.
U.C.L's Grant Museum was a place I visited due to its exhibitions inclusion on the IanVisit's website. It has its uses, there's been a number of places I visited last year having only found out about them from that website and while they've been interesting the website sometimes lacks specific information in favour of culling text from another website somewhere. I trolled long the road, not expecting a Natural History Museum to have been secreted in the back roads of Bloomsbury but was still surprised to find the Grant Museum was a small hall in the corner of one of the many U.C.L. buildings in the area. I forget now what my exact reason for visiting had been, I only remember that whatever it was, it was so anticlimactic compared to the write-up that I promptly gave up on it and instead wandered around looking at the interesting skeletons and fossils on display. The Grant Museum is on Gower Street, if you're in the area then by all means pop in but it's not worth a visit in its own right or worth too large a deviation from your route.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/648468.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Sunday, January 4th, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Seven and Eight - April
Earlier this year I took a strange and powerful dislike to walking places where I had been before. Maybe it was some lingering remnant from the several years I spent walking London's streets, then I could pretty much guarantee that even if the area I was walking through was not particularly pretty it would at least be somewhere I had not seen before. This led to some strange expeditions such as walking from Peckham to Brockwell Park, then to Brixton Hill and eventually onwards to Tooting Bec Common, after doing a circuit of which I came home via Balham station which meant I went past the Bedford, somewhere I had visited many times but only to be part of the audience for recordings of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product in the very late 90s. The top photo was taken outside a junk shop on Brixton Hill. I have no idea whether this machine actually worked but if it did then I hope the shopkeeper took enough care of it and that it came to find another home.
Yeah, it's a cheat but for my second photo from this month I'm going back to Longitude Punk'd
and would direct anyone interested to my previous review
. Later in the year I went to the National Maritime Museum
down the hill which was doing a 'proper' exhibition on longitude which I much preferred.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/648192.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Five and Six - March
So, if you live in London or come to London on a day out and want somewhere to visit and you have at least a passing interest in transport history then I can heartily recommend the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It's fascinating, it's not very
expensive, indeed it's only real disadvantage is that it is in Covent cocking Garden, one of the parts of London that have evolved purely to be extremely fucking annoying to Londoners if they have to visit it. Honestly, Tavistock Street, then Tavistock Court, then a hard right and then you can be in with a minimum of having to fuss about with dodging dullards tripping over the cobblestones. However, if you look at the London Transport Museum website for events you'll see that a couple of times a year they open their depot at Acton for the public to visit. From my minimal visits, admittedly to go to Gunnersbury Park, which I recommend because it's a lovely park, Acton seems like a nice enough place. The L.T.M. Depot is bizarre. It's Slimelight for trainspotters. It's literally a huge shed in which the L.T.M. keep all the crap they don't want to display at Covent Garden. It's also just a big warehouse so you're walking around interesting looking tunnelling equipment or control boards from seventies underground junction boxes with none of the signs you would get in a museum explaining what they do and no staff on hand to ask. What you do get, or what I got on my visit was a large crowd of men who looked to be either approaching or rocketing past retirement age all trying to sell their old videos about trains. Not DVDs, videos. Taking up about half of the back of the warehouse were a number of underground train compartments which looked as though they were there because the L.T.M. had managed to get their hands on them when they were decommissioned rather than any particular design merit (although to be fair, who can judge that?). There were also buses from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, some of which I would see again later on in the year on Regent Street, and this time in some sort of order! The thing that interested me most was the little gallery stuffed with signs and posters and information from stations. Again, if this were not just the L.T.M. shed then someone might have ordered these in some way so that people could see the evolution of London Transport's design aesthetic. Instead it was just a random collection of stuff.
I've managed to go to the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, as was, twice. It's my own fault, I'm not one for buying tickets randomly just to see what I get so invariably when I find out about a film that I'd like to see all the tickets are long gone. This year, thanks to a friend, I got to see Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger
which was a delight. I'm a big fan. It's a shame that the arts did so much to push queer culture out there when it was still outlawed and yet now we're in a situation where there is more freedom for people who love one another to have that relationship recognised and yet the culture is now lagging behind. Most of these films, pretty much all of them, never get a wider release and if you miss seeing it here then it's likely you'll never get another chance to see it.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/647938.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Thursday, January 1st, 2015|
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers Three and Four - February
I hurt myself the day I took the first picture. I'm still to this day not exactly sure how. I was doing a lot of kneeling down to take photos of Ben Wilson's tiny paintings on the chewing gum people had spat out on the Millennium Bridge and afterwards my legs obviously decided I had slighted them in some way and so were painful for several days after. Considering my moderate out-of-shapeness I wonder why I don't get this sort of thing happening to me more often rather than once out of the blue and then, so far, never again.
Not included here are the first pictures from my first foray into cake baking. They're all up in my Facebook photos instead. Someone had found and posted a link to a recipe for brownies almost entirely chocolate and including mini Cadbury's creme eggs. Rather than just say "that's cool" and move on I decided to actually try it for once. It was an epic undertaking as it was a three stage recipe which involved cooling time between each part and we started cooking in the evening so it wasn't finished until several days later. When it was done we sampled it and realised that it was both delicious so full of sugar that eating it made Popeyes reaction to spinach seem positively half-hearted. Since then I've started trying other cake recipes with some success.
I had read about Candy Chang's 'Before I Die' somewhere only a few days before I came across this London installation. I don't know how long it lasted on Borough High Street but it's now tucked away in one of the passages of Borough Market, as I discovered ten months later while looking for Paddington Bears.
This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/647749.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photos. Numbers One and Two - January
Well here we go again. Running a bit late time round because I was working for the last few days of last year and didn't give myself time to do this. Also I can't find the 'search by date' on Flickr. I found it once since their latest redesign but that was by accident and even the help forum isn't helpful so I had to manually cycle back to the start of the year to get these two. Still, onward and upward!
The first photo was from a visit to the Wellcome Collection the day after New Years. Most of the building was closed for redecoration so I mooched around the permanent exhibit and the 'Foreign Bodies, Common Ground' exhibition. It was supposed to be about artists being based in medical research centres around the world, what actually seemed to happen was that almost all the artists went out of the medical research centres and instead spend their time directly in the communities and working with them to produce various pieces.
The second photo was taken on one of the dry days in January when a friend and I walked a green chain walk and ended up on Shooters Hill. Although our experience was nowhere near as bad as the parts of the country that were now underwater we had traversed muddy fields and even muddier woody paths and were now heading home when I saw this. I think it was in the grounds of a church.
This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/647617.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
|Saturday, August 23rd, 2014|
|'Doctor Who: Deep Breath'
Wow, I mean wow
. I've seen episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus
that had more narrative cohesion than that. I accept that you could write an eighty-minute episode of a television programme using the 'cut-up' technique but I never thought you'd be allowed to broadcast it in prime time. When did I meet Steven Moffat? Because surely I must have met him, we got drunk, and I challenged him to make every episode of Doctor Who
more wretched, stupid and full of loathing for everybody than the last. I re-watched last Christmas's episode a few days ago just to reassure myself that it was as terrible as I remembered. Oh for those carefree halcyon days when the Doctor could destroy a Dalek fleet by regenerating. We were so happy then. Tonight's episode didn't just ignore what makes a good Doctor Who
story, it ignored making a good story period. The two things that remained constant was that it was set in the Victorian erathat the Doctor now seems to go to every other episode and that every actor played the same role all the way through the episode, clearly they are waiting for episode four before having Peter Capaldi play Emmanuelle and Jenna Coleman played Pontius Pilate while the Doctor is played by a box of tissues, because The Man doesn't get to tell Moffat how to write a script Godsdamnit!
I don't really want to summarise the plot because doing so would require me spending more time thinking about it than Moffat did. Also, there is just the vaguest possibility that I have been pranked and shown something completely different to what the rest of the world saw. What I saw was a dinosaur appearing in Victorian London and coughing up the Tardis. Victorians aren't particularly alarmed by the appearance of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, they're probably blasé after that Christmas when the giant robot trampled half of London. Indeed no one tries to do anything to remove the dinosaur despite the fact it stalks around Westminster for at least half a day presumably eating people and shifting everywhere. It then catches on fire and dies. We will later find out this is due to robots that want to use part of its eyes to repair their spaceship. Of course, one might point out that if you set fire to something that you run the risk of destroying whatever it is you're after but as we know Steven Moffat writes these scripts based entirely on the visuals and his clever dialogue and everything else is for those spotty virgins he hates that are called 'fans'. Clara, meanwhile, is for some reason having immense difficulty getting to grips with the idea that the Doctor has regenerated into an older body. Let's ignore the fact that three episodes ago she took a ride in the Doctor's lifestream and saw every incarnation of him and hung out with the War Doctor for a while as well. Let's ignore this because Moffat certainly is. If you want to have a character express surprise that the doctor is now an 'old man' then in Victorian London you've got the choice of three characters who could be the audience surrogate for that story point: Vastra, Jenny or Strax, don't have it be the woman who in the previous episode saw the Doctor as an old man. He still has some of the more annoying habits of his previous incarnation such as the delusion that he can understand what non-verbal lifeforms are saying, the Eleventh Doctor claimed that babies were capable of having conversations much more advanced than ten-year-olds, the Twelfth Doctor can apparently talk to the animals, or at least understand them. Yes, it turns out that 'The Name of the Doctor' is actually Doolittle.
Anyway, Vastra takes the Doctor and Clara in while he recovers only for him to escape and live on the streets as the Tramp for a bit. Clara is a bit put out by this but doesn't really do anything to find him because clearly the Doctor's not in any danger at all in a confused and amnesiac state in Victorian London. They finally come together in a restaurant, both thinking the other has placed a newspaper ad to attract them, clearly the 'Bad Wolf' of this season. This restaurant is full of robots similar to the clockwork robots from the Madame de Pompadour episode except for the small difference of being completely different. We know that in recent years the show has had to reuse sets and costumes to save money, this is the first time that I'm aware of a show reusing the same story, especially considering the way Steven Moffat repeatedly draws attention to this as though he wants to win a BAFTA for recycling. The robots have been stuck on earth for millennia replacing worn out parts with human limbs because if you're a robot with access to metals then clearly you ignore that in favour of human flesh which, even if you have the means to keep it in good working order when separated from its original owner, still only has a working life of a couple of decades. I'd say that Moffat started writing a Jack the Ripper story and then realised late in the day that he'd already had Vastra dispose of Jack and changed it to except that was series and series ago and we know what Moffat thinks about continuity.
The Doctor and Clara dick around for an unedifying amount of time, everyone fights robots that only attack them if they breathe, the Doctor goes for a flight with the head robot in a balloon seemingly made of human skin, persuades the robot to kill itself which for some reason kills all the others and then goes off in the Tardis before coming back for Clara. That summarises the last twenty-five minutes or so, it's odd that Moffat has been given extra time for this episode when he clearly doesn't need it and has to resort to an awful lot of padding. The robot is doing what it's doing in order to fulfil a confused desire to reach the promised land. After the Doctor persuades it to kill itself it wakes up in a garden with a mysterious woman who tells it that it's in heaven. Whether this is whimsy, it's killed enough people that it somehow has developed a human soul and gets to go to heaven despite, you know, killing loads of people, or whether this is a more material place we may find out in a future episode but I really don't care. We have a final scene in Glasgow where Clara finally reconciles herself to the new Doctor by talking on the phone to the old one before he regenerated and that is the one genuinely interesting and emotional part of the episode where Clara and the Doctor open up to one another and it is far, far too brief.
As I suspect might have been hinted by the above I hated this. And I hated it pretty much entirely for the writing. The lazy, self-congratulatory writing. I can't believe that if Steven Moffat wasn't in charge of Doctor Who that the scripts he turns in would be considered acceptable. He has written nothing of the quality of what he wrote in the Russell T. Davies era and each week approaches the show as a collage of interesting images rather than a story. There's an interesting tale to tell each week but he seems absolutely uninterested in telling it. The actors tried very hard, the Victorian team are great as ever but Jenna Coleman was never particularly interesting beyond the mystery of Clara and Peter Capaldi, just like David Tennant, is sidelined in his first episode so we don't get a chance to see him shine. Next week is apparently 'Daleks killing lots of people' week, so the recycling of episodes hasn't stopped yet.This entry was originally posted at http://blahflowers.dreamwidth.org/647338.html. Please comment there using OpenID. Current Mood: cranky
|Sunday, August 10th, 2014|
|Friday, July 4th, 2014|
|Thursday, June 19th, 2014|
|Thursday, May 22nd, 2014|
|Friday, May 16th, 2014|
|Monday, May 5th, 2014|