Friday, September 29, 2006

London Structures: High Victorian Taj Mahal

Hyde Park is crowded with deeply flawed Royal Monuments – the Diana Fountain is just the latest. This example is the High Victorian answer to the Taj Mahal; and certainly its grief-stricken genesis is as poignant. It is the future Empress of India’s memorial to her departed consort. The Victorians lavished the finest materials and most expensive talents of their day on its decoration. Unfortunately, they were less concerned about its engineering and we recently had to pay £17m for its renovation.

Ironically, this overgrown Gothic casket stands on the location of Great Britain’s supreme contribution to the history of modern architecture, the Crystal Palace, and commemorates the forward-thinking man who commissioned that vanished edifice.

Victoria’s grief was purest gold – she gilded Albert’s statue from head to foot. Her descendants, embarrassed by her faux pas, had it painted black to prevent German zeppelins navigating over London by the moonbeams glinting off Albert’s head (that’s what their press release said at the time). It remained black for the remainder of the 20th century.

The best thing English Heritage ever did was to regild the statue in direct defiance of the present Royal family’s objections. Tasteless but true to Victoria’s intentions: triumphantly making this what it needs so desperately to be – so bad it’s good.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Osanpo camera

Someone asked me if I was a fan of Osanpo technique. I hadn’t heard of it, but was inspired and rushed out to try it. After looking at the Osanpo Group on flickr however I realized firstly I had misunderstood, and secondly I had been doing classical Osanpo already:

"osanpo" mean is ...

osanpo = お散歩 (o-san-po)
お散歩 = 散歩 (san-po)
散 (san) = free
歩 (po) = walking
So.... osanpo = free walking.
and expanded "osanpo" meaning = "free walking, free riding, free driving"
So... osanpo camera = osanpo with your camera.”

Osanpo is taking your camera around wherever you go and shooting freely, whatever opportunity presents itself. Therefore, I suppose it’s true to say your work can be as ‘finished’ or as ‘rough’ as you like, as long as you are finding the opps on your travels.

Well, I liked it rough. After my chat, I went out and shot as randomly as it is possible to do – click, click, click – didn’t even check the viewfinder.

I learned a few things:

~ cameras can compose on their own
~ their compositions can be wildly original, shattering your ingrained preconceptions: your default settings. It can teach you to see freshly
~ nothing fails. It’s all good. If it’s not good, it’s funny
~ basically, it’s all fun
~ don’t sweat it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


"I always have secret enemies and more or less expect it. The reason my enemies are secret is because it's well known that my personal motto, tattooed to the inside of my heart, with the blood of the ones I've defeated, is

It's not revenge if they know."

Beautifully written, Alexnder Chee: words which resonate thrillingly with me tonight.

In unrelated news, I have been given an exciting freelance gig! whooo - yay me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Conversations with a Moron

ring-ring! ring-ring! ring-ring!

Hedgie: Hello, this is Hedgie speaking.

Moron: Can I please speak to your deputy head teacher?

Hedgie: I’m sorry. I imagine you are trying to call G*** M***** Primary School. I’m afraid their number has changed and BT has given me their old number. This is now a private phone number. I actually think G*** M***** Primary School has closed down, as I have been unable to find their new number. Directory enquiries does not have it, although the old number is all over the internet.

Moron: Thank you.


3 seconds later –

ring-ring! ring-ring! ring-ring!

Hedgie: Hello, Hedgie speaking.

Moron: Is this G*** M***** Primary School?

Hedgie: No. This is a private number.

Moron: ok.



Monday, September 25, 2006

Contemplating the universe and everything

Crunch time Zippy! The next few months are going to be very exciting.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Search Goes On

It looks as though my little blog is being picked up by the great God Google, according to my stat counter thingy. Analysis shows my blog is a food blog - just about every search was food related. Incredible - I don't think I write about food that much. The funniest/strangest request was:

"mango puree made by shamans"

Hmmm. Interesting.

And Macaron, it's definitely time to get your own website! Although I don't mind advertising as I think you're great.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Quote London

"We are city boys . . . we always believe that excessive love of nature leads to totalitarianism."

- Gilbert and George

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Baked goods. I really like the textures and colours in this: reminds me of an abstract painting.

The bread is not from Macaron this time - it's from Esca on
Clapham High Street, a deli/cafe/bakery which kick-started the posh
bread movement in these parts. Now we have Esca, Macaron, and a
restaurant on the High Street has a stall with artisanal breads which
spills out onto the pavement at weekends. The Lighthouse Bakery on
Northcote Rd is not too far away. So Claphamites are certainly going to be eating bread, as well as cake, for the foreseeable future.

I usually get Esca's organic white but they had sold out, so I tried
the farmhouse white. It's quite delicious toasted and smeared with my yoga teacher's blackcurrant jam. Yum!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Queen

Laudatory reviews in the weekend papers; Helen Mirren is a National Treasure; and she won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival: so therefore, a Must See.


The film has been wildly overpraised. It’s not bad; it’s just that it’s not very good. I think an interesting opportunity has been missed.

Mirren’s performance is a curate’s egg – I didn’t appreciate some of the more over-emphasised physical mannerisms (the walk), but she does deserve credit for imbuing the character with some interior life and complexity, despite the script. Her supporting cast of royals are a bunch of gurning gargoyles: hideous caricatures, the lot of them. Poor Charles fares especially badly.

The script rehearses the well-known events between Diana’s death and her funeral. Nothing new is revealed, it’s just imaginatively dressed up and dramatised.

The high point is the use of television footage intercut with the fictional recreation. In particular, the flashbacks of Diana are stunningly well integrated. Despite being almost a decade dead, her presence completely electrifies the screen whenever she appears. I think this angle could have been pursued more deeply: the mythological scale of her fame; the media hysteria; the New Labour spin machine attempting to engage with Royal presentational traditions. If the film attempted a more serious examination of these themes instead of focussing on the pedestrian televisual dramatisation of events, I think it could have done something quite interesting and profound.

Aspects of what could have been can be seen in Frears’ direction of the car crash sequence, intercut as it is with episodes from Diana’s career as a paparazzi target – totally brilliant – and also the funeral service, skilfully interwoven with the real Earl Spencer’s speech. I also very much enjoyed the sequence where the Queen takes Tony’s call in her Balmoral kitchens (crowds and crowds and crowds of startled flunkeys hastily try to accommodate her) as well as her return to Buckingham Palace to confront the hostile public and their venomous messages on the floral offerings. Totally bathetic is a sequence with the Queen confronting a stag on her Estate. Exactly what was not needed. But I suppose the decision had been taken that this was a Mirren vehicle.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I'm taking more and more photos. I get out of bed and shoot a few before breakfast, and then at odd moments in the day. I keep a notebook and I jot down ideas. I walk the city; that inspires ideas too. As does looking at other people's work and communicating with others.

If I'm out and I don't have my camera, I see things and kick myself.

Met two photographers recently: one in person and one via email; both conjured up out of the magic of cyberspace. This proved a powerful experience. Suddenly I realized: my camera is not a machine any more - it is beginning to be an instrument.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Confessions of a Famous Photographer

Ok - the headline is premature. And please forgive my boasting, but I am high on recognition as I type.

Less than 3 months on flickr, and one of my photos (above) has been picked up by Londonist. How absolutely cool is that? Huzaar!

Oh yes - it's a photo of a new mural in Southwark Street by Ian Davenport entitled Poured Lines. It had been hidden behind a teasing temporary cover until its official unveiling (due tomorrow 6th September). Turned out, too much of a tease as passing Londoners started ripping the cover off. The rips in the cover interested me, and I headed down to Southwark on Monday evening to photograph it before it finally disappeared forever.

I arrived to find the Council's officials busy removing the cover early, so I shot some snaps.

They told me the mural was being recovered today, so the 'temp' cover would look spiffy and fresh for the official unveiling. This is quite a task - apparently, this mural is longer than the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

More Chemistry

I am starting to regret my previous belief in our new security regimen.

Mixing up a bomb while on board a plane is not as easy as mixing a Sea Breeze (as we have been carefully led to believe) - it requires time (hours and hours), skill, temperature control (lots of ice), ventilation (noxious fumes): if someone was constructing a 7/7-type bomb in the airplane loos it is likely someone would notice something odd. More hair-raising details for the paranoid here.

Although my sister (a Science graduate) told me this evening it is theoretically possible to make an effective explosive out of a bag of flour and a cigarette lighter.

Anyway, apart from the security beaurocrats (let's face it - the government is never going to turn down an opportunity to grab greater power) - commerce also benefits, as Carol Sarler in today's Observer writes:

"The absurdity that is 'tightened security' at airports is making fortunes for some. Dutifully, we leave our perfume and mascara behind, slither naked through check-in, then gallop to Boots in departures to buy replacements, while Mr Boot and his landlord, BAA, laugh all the way to the bank. The French, mind, must be laughing louder. In their departures lounge at Nice last week, one woman flogged you 50ml of No 5 and then, only yards away at the boarding gate, another confiscated it. The plane home carried such a rich scent of fury and indignation, with an agreeable top-note of xenophobia, that you could have bottled that, instead."