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Lazy Post No. 19: A New Bridge Please…

July 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Gallions Reach Bridge_trimI’ve been sent an email from Transport for London inviting me to the next round of consultation for the new East London Thames crossing options…

Without doubt my favourite has to be the possibility of a new bridge at Gallions Reach. How amazing would that be?

I’m a big fan of modern bridges, especially concrete ones. Think of Fosters Milau Viaduct in France or The Oresund Crossing between Denmark and Sweden. Obviously the Gallions Reach bridge would not be anywhere near their scale, but it would still be a wonderful opportunity to create an elegant and timeless structure, right on my doorstep…

It’s not at all clear from the blurb if it will end up being a toll bridge, but I suspect that has to be a possibility. However on the assumption that a replacement ferry service would have to remain free for it to be used, arguably (and hopefully) the new bridge would be free also. We shall see.

The land is already owned, so it could potentially be open by 2025 and the whole project would cost around £600m. Cheap at half the price, especially when you think of the Billions that train projects seem to cost these days…

Do it I say. London can never have too many bridges…

milau viaduct

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Lazy Post No. 17 – Hans Unger…

June 21, 2014 Leave a comment

unger64A quick and lazy post today of some wonderful posters from the 1960’s and 70’s.

Hans Unger (1915 – 1975) was a German emigree who came to London via South Africa in 1948. Unger was a gifted artist and graphic designer who created many posters for amongst others, the GPO, London Transport and the Public Information Office.

Unger was also skilled in designing and making mosaics (which he did in collaboration with Eberhard Schulze) and stained glass.

The Tower, by Hans Unger, 1969I can’t find much more about him to be honest, his work is easy to find, but the person himself seems to have left little trace on the net. The only other rather upsetting fact I’ve found on a site here, is that he took his own life in 1975 for reasons that are not clear…

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Spring in the air; country walks, by Harry Stevens, 1963

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unger-safariThe Zoo Aquarium, by Hans Unger and Eberhard Schulze, 1963

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poster06_428x652_to_468x312There’s a most excellent book I came across recently, “Keep Britain Tidy, Posters from the Nanny State” which contains some of Unger’s work along with a whole selection of others  from the collection of the National Archives. Thoughtfully, many of these excellent posters have been printed on single sided, removable pages especially for framing and hanging purposes…

Click the pelican to the left to find out more…

Finally there’s an interesting little video here about the book, narrated by the author Hester Vaizey…

 

 

 

 

Lazy Post no. 14 – Sammy the Seal…

April 21, 2014 1 comment

P1050889_cropOver Easter we had the very good fortune to see of all things, a seal in the Millwall Inner Dock here on the Isle of Dogs…

There was a small group watching the water around one of the rafts that the nesting birds use, where the seal carrying what appeared to be a length of plastic pipe, was doing his best to annoy the coots on the raft.

One of the people there said they’d seen the seal two weeks previously and it had the pipe with it then as well. At one point the seal disappeared below the surface and then a couple of minutes later, rose vertically out of the water clutching the pipe, looked around a few times and then sank straight back down again, still holding the pipe. I’ve never seen anything like it…

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Searching the web, it seems that the seals name is Sammy and he’s been here for about 13 years.. Which is not quite as long as I’ve been here, and begs the  question, why didn’t I know about him before now?

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Anyway, it seems the fishmongers at Billingsgate Market up at the top of the island have been feeding him salmon all these years, which is why he stays presumably.

This is a link to a BBC news report from last year which shows Sammy in action…

Lazy Post no. 13 : Doris Day…

April 8, 2014 Leave a comment

article-2598358-1CD5CDC400000578-461_634x758Well you learn something everyday…

Doris Day, that most iconic of actors is still alive and well and celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday, Sunday 6th April. Although in truth, it may have been her 92nd birthday, as census records suggest Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (her original name) was born in 1920, and not 1922 as she claims).

But regardless of these specifics, there’s no doubt she’s still going strong, waving to fans from the safety of this rather impressive balcony at her home in Carmel, overlooking the golf course and country club where she seems to spend most her time these days…

Since her last film “With Six you get Eggroll” in 1968 (no, me neither) and her TV shows from the mid 1970’s, Day has consciously avoided all publicity, devoting her time and efforts to a variety of animal welfare causes (hence the strangely disconcerting photo at the end of this post). Initially this prompted a backlash against her as the lack of any hard information resulted in almost unending speculation about her looks, weight and private life, which in turn only strengthened her determination to keep away from the spotlight.

I’ve always thought Doris was pretty good in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man who Knew Too Much with Jimmy Stewart from 1956, a film that bridged the gap between the musicals of the early 50’s and the later romantic comedies for which she is best known. Hitchcock apparently insisted on Doris for the role of Mrs. Jo McKenna, against the wishes of the studio, and it was this faith that allowed her to demonstrate a more serious side to her acting skills.

So happy birthday to Doris Day…

UPDATE

It’s now Tuesday 8th April and since I wrote this yesterday, I’ve also learned that Mickey Rooney was still alive. I say was, because sadly he passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 93.

Makes me wonder how many more Hollywood legends are forgotten but not gone… Perhaps uncharitably, an image of faded stars sitting in darkened rooms repeatedly watching their old films, a la Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, or Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard comes into mind, wistfully remembering the good times when everyone knew everything about them…

Poster - Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1956)_02

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Lazy Post No. 12 – Peter Gabriel on Spotify

March 11, 2014 4 comments

It might not mean much to you, but I was well chuffed to find out this morning that Peter Gabriel’s solo album’s are finally available on Spotify.

Gabriel 1-4 copy

Whilst the Genesis influence (i.e. overly complex tunes and funny voices) is still clearly evident throughout 1 (car)  and 2 (scratch), it was with 3 (melt) and 4 (scary) that Gabriel finally began to find his own voice.

Gabriel 3 is a truly marvelous record, way ahead of its time in my humble opinion.. Dark, erudite and politically astute lyrics, encased and enveloped in richly layered electronica, with hints of the sampling, tribal drumming and percussion programming that would make Gabriel 4 such a standout album a few years later…

I don’t know how many hundreds of times I must have listened to Biko on Gabriel 3 over the years, but it still sends a shiver down my spine. Those wonderfully evocative lines “You can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire, once the flames begin to catch, the winds will blow them higher..” will forever be etched in my memory…

So that just leaves Mr. Fripp to get his act together and put one of my most guilty of pleasures, King Crimson up on Spotify… Come on Bob, do it for the fans, what with Pink Floyd and Led Zep capitulating recently, there’s only you and Thom Yorke left in the non believers camp…

Lazy Post No. 11 – The Door Reimagined…

February 13, 2014 2 comments

Designed by the Austrian artist, Klemens Torggler, I’m tempted to just post the video up of the man himself demonstrating his revolutionary door concept and leaving it at that. The action of it closing is just beautiful…

Quick couple of thoughts though… How effective would it be at keeping noise out and how long will the folds in the rubber/ plastic material last…

Still I like it very much as an idea. Very elegant. There are other earlier iterations of his door concepts, all of which are very intriguing in their own way, especially this one based on an epitrochoid curve…

Flip-panel-door

Lazy Post no. 10 : Are there too many Men in Hollywood?

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Being a regular commuter on the underground, I’m subjected to such a constant bombardment of adverts and posters for new records, products and films, that it’s easy to let any subliminal messages they might contain, slip through your subconscious…

Some time ago now, I started noticing something almost sinister about the large majority of film posters that appear and change with such alarming regularity.

Take these posters for 10 films that are all on release in London at the moment. They were chosen pretty much at random, but if you were to choose 10 of your own, I’d be confident that the results would be very similar. There are representatives from all genres including Sci-fi, Action, Rom Com, History and whatever category Dallas Buyers Club falls under..

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A quick count up of the number of photos and written or highlighted names of the main stars on each of the posters, is simultaneously enlightening and worrying, providing us with an insight into how male orientated and dominated Hollywood land really is… (I’m assuming that the two astronauts in Gravity are Clooney and Bullock although I suspect it’s neither and they’ve been CGI’d, but that wouldn’t change the scores anyway. And I’ve ignored all the people behind DiCaprio as they are unnamed)

The upshot is that across the 10 posters, there are a grand total of 25 photos of actors and 42 different actors names. Of these, 18 photos and 30 names are of men, yet only 7 photos and 12 names of women…

Which means that there are almost 3 times as many photos of male stars as there are of female stars, and in terms of written names the men have more than twice as many as the women…

Not being a Hollywood insider, I don’t know if this is to do with the story lines of films that get made, or the experience of the producers that male stars will always make money than female, or whether it’s down to the choice of the directors or the casting agents to always have more men….

Whatever, I can’t help but think it’s significant that there are so few parts for women in all these major film releases…

As this is a lazy post, I’m deliberately holding back from going into these ideas any further at this point, rather I’m just “planting seeds” as the great Bill Hicks often said… But as I think about them further over the coming weeks, I may well revisit this post and expound my theories a little further…

Feel free to chip in…

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