Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pink Pipes


Many cities in the world would benefit if some attractive pink and purple pipes were run through their public spaces and that's exactly what Berlin has done in Potsdamerplatz. Aren't they pretty?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Call of the Highlands


The pipes are calling. Point the car north and drive till the rain stings and the midges bite. It's been far too long.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Change in the Weather

What a difference a few hours and a few hundred miles makes.




Thursday morning, 10.30, speeding across the Venetian lagoon on my way to the airport.


Thursday afternoon, 15.00, speeding along the M25 through Surrey.

Now which do I prefer?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lately a Latte

It is probably a character defect on my part but if I'm left alone with a coffee for more than five minutes, I will photograph it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Getting Up Steam

The periods of time between posts in this journal - a serious misnomer given the word's Latin root - grow ever longer. I've no idea why. Perhaps there are too many other demands on my time due to my quest for continuing mental stimulation, the essential offset to the depredations of advancing years. Certainly I've taken on new challenges of late - well, one new challenge at least, the others are old ones, like getting out of bed at a reasonable time and not eating chips.

I've become a voluntary guide at a stately home. A couple of days a week I get to pretend that I own a large Palladian mansion in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside. I can swan around from room to room, chatting to our clientele, raising a laugh and singing. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to sing but the room acoustics are tremendous and irresistible. And nobody has complained yet.

Suddenly there are lots of facts to stuff away into my crowded brain, that same brain where now, after sixty years, some of the storage rooms have become locked and keyless, their contents mouldering away, never to be retrieved. Wouldn't it be great if you could shuffle through the repository stuck inside your head and throw out all those memories for which you no longer have a use? In my case that could be the registration numbers of all the cars I've ever owned (and some of my Dad's), the phone number of one of the flats I lived in Bristol or the best pubs to drink in in the West Country in the early 1970s. All redundant knowledge but still there, clogging up the neuron pathways, pathways which might be better occupied with the names of the 6th Earl of Coventry's wives or the methods of production of cylinder glass.

Still, what does it matter? If I don't know the answer, I can always make something up, one of the benefits of being relatively well-read and knowing not quite enough about a lot of things. And so I do. Constantly, such drivel as would make you weep.


Enough of that. It's patently obvious that there have been insufficient images of steam trains on these pages. So here is one. While viewing this picture, try to conjure up a bitterly cold December day with the scent of snow in the air. Then smell the rich, overpowering, exotic tang of hot oil and coal smoke, and hear the hiss and splutter of steam erupting from a straining safety valve. When you have that in your mind, you will understand how, in one way at least, I experience perfection.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gaslight Alley Revisited

Currently I'm working in Mayfair, an exorbitantly over-priced area in the West End of London. Not far from my location is an abandoned Underground station at Down Street, closed in the 1920s because of lack of custom - even then the inhabitants were too well-heeled to contemplate travelling on a public transport system.

I was going to initiate a diatribe against the parasites on society who live here with their personalised car number plates and private clubs but I can't be bothered. People sponge off society at both ends of the spectrum and that will never change so I'll not waste my breath.

Despite the fact that I'm working to past two in the morning, I've still found time to visit some of the attractions of the big city. Yesterday I went to the Tate Britain to reacquaint myself with the highlights of late eighteenth and nineteenth century British Art, a period when the craft of the artist was paramount.

Today I visited Tate Modern. It was a brief visit and, as in past visits, I searched in vain for something that was more than 'The Emporer's New Clothes' and something that demonstrates the craft skills of the artist.
Still I'm sure there are enough people living in Mayfair with money to waste who can keep these modern paint daubers in the substances of their choice.


Anyway, just to emphasis how essential light is to a subject, be it in painting or photography, I revisited the small square with the gaslight that I photographed at night recently. Not too exciting now, it is? Where's the atmosphere and the drama? It's as flat as the proverbial pancake.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gaslight Alley

I was wandering the streets of London on Monday - actually trudging would be a more accurate description of my activity - when I came across this Dickensian alley close to the busy throughfare of Piccadilly. Although I'm used to seeing gaslights in use close to home in Great Malvern, I hadn't realised there were still a few left in the Great Wen. What's more it wasn't in a particularly touristy area; it appears that this minor public right-of way, and the courtyard it leads to, has escaped the passage of time and the onward march of progress.

Which is jolly nice.

Added November 12th.

I've now identified exactly where I was standing when I took this picture. It was in Pickering Place,
off St James's Street. It was home to the Republic of Texas's embassy until it joined the US union in 1845. It also has two claims to fame - it is the smallest public square in Britain (I can attest to that - cat-swinging was not an option) and it was the last place in England where a duel was fought - walking back twenty paces would have been a bit tricky.