Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Notting Hill set and thoughts on broadcast media in 2015

Was it priced in error?
Not as planned I ended up in Notting Hill area yesterday afternoon and browsed a couple of bookshops - In Waterstones I found 'The Story of Philosophy' and couldn't believe that it was only £2.99 not much more than some magazines - I've already started reading it and have high hopes as it does seem well constructed in it's narrative style.

Strangely even after so many years I don't really know the area around Notting Hill underground but having a brief promenade there I can see that there's money in the area - expensive one-off shops and small galleries.

Is it a 'real' pub?

My eye was also taken by the Churchill Arms pub - what a shame that pub's have changed so much, the gentrification reflecting an increasingly 'middle class' sensibility - how can it be that in my own life we've moved from the glory of a pub where someone would take there caged ferret with them for a drink to the horrors of soulless 'Gastro-pubs' with a synthesised history of suspended agricultural artefacts?

Well we're unlikely to see pubs that have life written into the DNA so let's instead take them for what they are second rate themed eateries.

Media Outlook for 2015

Well looking at the tea leaves for Broadcasting in 2015 the picture is like an analogue television picture with a dodgy indoor aerial-  far from clear.

We can  anticipate mixed results for 2015 in the European TV  market and  expansion especially eastwards looks problematic- there the continued uncertainty, particularly around the effect of lower oil prices on the Russian economy and how this will impact on Europe is likely to lead to entrenchment in the sector.

Unlike 2014 there is no  major international sports event to drive live media consumption and it will be more down to individual country events and programming to create demand for channels and advertising .

What we can expect in the  technological areas are more non-linear consumption, continuing consumption on mobile devices and a further increase in channel choice driven by the burgeoning IP distribution.
Still in the living room but in other places too.

We  also  see that the effect of ‘cable cutting’ is a mixed blessing for the USA, good for many viewers and the ‘long tail’ of content  but for the big network operators and cable companies  in North America it appears to be a time for a forced re-evaluation, in Europe where national (non-commercial) state broadcasters remain strong the impact of Netflix and the like will still be a significant element 

Amazon, Apple and Google are continuing to innovate and I expect this will continue along with the further refinement of Smart TV offerings.

Google in particular with its search expertise should not be overlooked.

Here in the UK we can expect renewed pressure on the BBC from the Conservative party as we move towards the 2015 election and a licence fee arrangement -as they say 'interesting times'.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Watch out for 'withheld' callers & Cinema in Ealing - an alternative exhibition..

Yesterday while carrying out 'Ironing duties' I was called by someone pretending to be a Police officer he asked for 'a Mrs Bourne' and  when I asked him why the number was withheld and what he wanted with a Mrs Bourne he told me to F*** off  and he rang off .

Watch out for these are undoubtedly no good johnnies and'll  be up to no good I'm sure - here are several someones with similar experiences to mine  - seems that fixed phones are becoming increasingly just a vehicle for irritation-mongers to pester us by

Photos of Cinema 

When I was taking photo's for exhibition for the OPEN Ealing Photography course one of the topics I considered was 'Cinema' if you say Ealing to many people an automatic leap is made to the movies.

While the Studios continue to function sadly the cinema has all but disappeared from many residents lives since I first moved to the borough.

About 35 years ago there were 2 cinemas in Northfield avenue one building remains (now a church) the other has been knocked down and become flats  (now Lido House ).

More recently we've lost the cinema opposite the Town Hall and due to a series of errors and business decisions the site still remains derelict.

Well here are the pictures I could have used ..

What we're left with-  a chance to see films in a club.. 

How not to rebuild a cinema 'now showing' just by Ealing Town Hall.

A Summer cinema atop of a car park in Ealing is a viewing venue

The home of Ealing Cinema - complete with a blue plaque to a Michael Balcon

The production complex shows an iconic St. Trinian's image
A Northfields Avenue church that was once an Art-deco  Cinema complete with organ

The detail from a former picture palace preserved in a car park!

Monday, December 29, 2014

And looking forward to 2015- aims and aspirations

A few days ago I posted about my 2014 and I thought it was worth putting down a few goals of 2015 - I recall reading Tim Smit's autobiography  (Tim was the dynamo behind the Eden Project in Cornwall ) and learning how he found publicly saying that he was doing/had done something was a great motivator to undertake  complete things.

Hope to study more here.

Well I have already signed up for one Philosophy course for 2015 (in Ealing) but would also like to take the remaining  third one at  City Lit course in the spring (Ways into philosophy: philosophy in the 20th century).


Up in the clouds
I think our goal will be as we managed in 2014 a minimum of one overseas holiday and a UK visit but perhaps a  Citybreak  trip to Berlin Germany might be a nice addition too.

Get stuck into this lot


I must admit to lacking the ability of late to focus on reading beyond gathering information and there are so many books I'd like to read - I hope to remedy this to some degree in 2015 - the travel may help here too as I often read more when I'm away from the distractions of home.

Photography  & Galleries

A camera refresh?

I hope to get an even better  camera that  will allow me to use Alamy so that I can perhaps monetise some of my pictures I'd also like to see one or two of my pictures published in a magazine or book or shown in an exhibition.

I hope to attend a picture framing course in Richmond at  their adult community college (RACC) during the spring/summer.

I plan to keep visiting galleries and museums hopefully finding some new ones in 2015.

Health and fitness

I shall continue the allotment which is the closest  I get to physical exertion and also walk as much as I can (within reason).
Allotments - great for fruit & veg

I am now avoiding Freeze dried instant coffee and Fruit drinks made from concentrate as there seem to be concerns around these processes, I shall continue to try and eat the suggested 5 per day (fruit and Veg.)

My behaviour

I suppose there's a potential problem where I might seek to influence people and suggest  that I know better than others - I shall try and moderate this or at least recognise when I'm being particularly belligerent in this respect.

I will also try and be less of a hypocrite - and judge myself as I judge others (or perhaps the other way around?)

And The blog..

Well I do like to document what I've done and find the blog helps me do this and on this point..

I don't get thousands of visitors to my blog  but like Michaela Raab   (who incidentally seems to be carving a very worthwhile path) I too have been intrigued by the number of Ukrainian Hits to my blog - any ideas?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's a holiday -better get down the shops

After a  'consumer-fest' ahead of the  December 25th holiday in UK and with a few days off what do the great British public do but go and hit the shops again (and also make a load of on-line purchases too)?

With discounts often over 50% it can be tempting to not only stock up with what we need but also buy a load of stuff that we don't even want let alone need.

If we're going to make any further  progress towards a reinvigorated economy under the Tory lead coalition in the few months before the election it will be as a result of consumer spending and the overheated housing market in the South East- it's not what Osborne and his cronies were planning (which was proclaimed as a rebalance to the productive economy) - and it's a shallow success but if it means more jobs then it should be a cause for some limited celebration.

 Ed Miliband has been making a good fist of leading the Labour party over the last few years but it's not the story the media want and there's a real danger that the hollow, shallow, publicity-crazed  Farage will continue to make the agenda by a lack of ambition from the Editors of our TV, radio and other media outlets - the likely scenarios after May are interesting and may stretch the consensus that Westminster is accustomed to.

We were out in a very busy Kingston (on Thames) yesterday and I took the picture below in John Lewis  - which as a result of the light in the shop has a faux Christmas appearance that I'm pleased with.
A  post Christmas scene in John Lewis Kingston

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Looking back on 2014

Well as we come to the end of the year it's only natural that we look back on the preceding 12 months and have a quick 'stock take', for me it's been a year that I find in general satisfying, I feel fortunate for the experiences the time has given me, to list my reasons to be cheerful I note the following (along with the great blessing of acquaintances, friends and family who often are far more patient and indulgent of me and my distractions than I should expect or deserve),


The good news is that apart from a cold and a few aches my health has been good, I did have a visit to the Doctors for  a check of Cholesterol and the like which of course was 'borderline', suggestions are more fruit and vegetables and less of the meat and high fat foods.
I also had an eye test which does not show any great deterioration in my vision but again the suggestion from the optician was 'more fruit' which may slow the ageing process around ones vision.


Well after getting pictures in the local paper (10 I think this year)  I have really tried to improve the pictures I take, as well as visiting exhibitions I have completed a couple of courses (OPEN Ealing digital photography and City Lit Business of Photography)   I even got the chance to exhibit in a small way and passed on prints  of a couple of pictures I had taken and invoiced for the use of another.

As well as taking pictures as 'the whim' took me I did help the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea taking some photographs at the famous Portobello Market on a voluntary basis for particular purposes (a challenge in itself).


In 2013 we did not  travel much but in  2014 we did take  trips to Glasgow (in June) and Rhodes (September) both were good trips and I realise how different Scotland is from England and what an important place Rhodes has been through history including the very famous Colossus of Rhodes).
Glasgow's famous  Burrell collection

A view over the temple at Lindos Rhodes


I continued to make regular visits to the National and National Portrait Galleries as well as the two London Tates but for me the most exciting Art event of 2014 was Marina's 512 hours - perhaps it shouldn't have been -the Richard Hamilton retrospective deserves a mention too - he was a great and diverse pioneer  of contemporary art in the UK.
A ground breaking work by Richard Hamilton

I took a City Lit course visiting London galleries to see contemporary works, a nice way to see some challenging work and meet a great bunch of people also seeking to push their appreciation.

It's also worth mentioning the exhibitions at the PM gallery Ealing and the excellent showcasing of Artists at For Art Sake in Bond Street W5.

Still much to learn

I got even further involved in Philosophy described half jokingly as an 'Affliction' by the wryly amusing course leader Mr Scott Biagi, anyway  thanks to him for his two excellent courses at City Lit and aided by sources on the Internet particularly Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time ((BBC Radio 4) I am now thoroughly hooked.

The allotment
An addition to plot 202

Well apart from the joys of the cerebral I have spent time digging growing and harvesting all good things to do - people on the allotment are invariably (in my experience) supportive and often actually complementary - it was great to have Debbie's help adding a Greenhouse to our plot and to enjoy good harvest of Cucumbers and Sweetcorn.

Helping others (and myself) in a voluntary way

The year has seen me continue to help Samaritans and the Hammersmith and Fulham  Citizens Advice Bureau.
I have also been assessed as a Voluntary Tour guide for London's Design Museum and even started conducting tours there.

Fancy a tour?

So all in all I can say I'm lucky and I can only hope that 2015 is up to this level of engagement for me..

Friday, December 26, 2014

All I could want

A book much spoken about
Headline -read all about it..

Well I can't complain - managed to have a pint in the pub before a nice Christmas meal (including allotment grown sprouts) and got what I wanted on  my list -namely a book by possibly the most important writer of the 20th century (Leo Tolstoy)  and the latest  CD by that Canadian troubadour of Angst Mr Leonard Cohen.

I'm really intrigued by the book as it has been spoken of very highly for it's influence.
The tongue is in cheek  
I'm looking forward to the CD, 'Popular Problems' as an example of work by a man of undoubted staying power - strangely both have names that are built around Leo - make of that what you will.

In transit this morning and  popped onto the Allotment - not seen a frost there for some time - hopefully killing bugs and cycling as nature would intend.

Frosty, not the snowman though had visited plot 202

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Season's Greetings - Hyde Park Christmas Fair

Happy Christmas.

Last year I took a picture of the London Christmas  fair in Hyde Park - it reminded me what fun it is to take photographs - revisit for 2014 below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Second Serpentine Cracker

Two for the price of one and they're both free.

It's only a short walk from the Serpentine Gallery to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery  (the newer gallery is named after philanthropists  Dr Mortimer and Dame Theresa Sackler, whose Foundation  made the project possible through the largest single gift received by the Serpentine Gallery in its 43-year history.)
You can see that Julio can draw and paint too

Having said that (about the walk) sometimes you might think 'oh I can't be bothered I'll go another day' - well while the Julio Le Parc retrospective is on do make that walk.

The wall of shimmering mirrors that greets you at the entrance

Again like the Reiner show you can take photo's but here you can do so much more - Julio is a different type of artist - there are examples of drawings on show but he's more about Kinetic art and dare I say it 'Fun'.

Moving lights

It's fun for youngsters too

Almost like being at the 'Fair'

Like the science museum used to be there are a load of buttons to press that make things happen and there are astonishing fairground type works, rubber darts to throw and targets to propel bean bags at.
(Not too mention a slightly scary hall of mirrors type walk,

Julio Le Parc was when young a radical, a anarchist and even as he enters the later years has proclaimed 'Can you ever be too old to experiment and make failures?"

I suppose that the Argentine born artist (still working with his family in France at the age of  86) has a dark side and although there are obvious connections to a fair - it is a dark fair quite  literally. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One of two Serpentine crackers and My year in Google

Today I went to the Serpentine Gallery, it's closed tomorrow and I had formed the idea  that it would not be too crowded in the build up to the holidays (and it wasn't).
A calm place to visit and Reiner's work calls for contemplation

The Serpentine of course was home to the amazing Marina  Abramovic  and her 512 hour  performance this summer so it has quasi-legendary status for me
One of 3 piles you see as you go in

And I was really very pleased I went again- the main gallery has work by German artist Reiner Ruthenbeck and what an interesting career he's had, born in Germany in 1937 he was a photographer before becoming a conceptual artist and he had the good fortune (I would say) of being a student of the legendary Joseph Beuys.

There are clearly many influences that can be seen in Reiner's  work including that of the Italian Art Povera and Fluxus.

What I'm finding now is that having looked at making my own 'tours' I'm looking wtih a more inquisitive eye and research too will follow this visit.

someone's upset the furniture..

And there's a load of paper on the floor

The good news is that for this (and the display I'll mention tomorrow) photographs were permitted (without flash).
Some of Ruthenbeck's sculptures

As well as the 600 pieces of paper (which I can imagine a child having great fun with) there were some minimal metal pieces and a picture with accompanying music .

There was music with this one.

And there were some fine Black and White photo's there too.

Also interested to see that there was a work exploring a territory that I though was unique to Martin Creed - this one though is a  dim constant light rather than a flashing one.

I saw the light

My year 2014 in Google+

Google + does something fairly odd with a selection of the pictures I've taken and well here it is..

Monday, December 22, 2014

The heroes we have - Are Philosophers nicer people than Artists? (and what about gardeners?)

There is an area of interest in Philosophy about being authentic, in the 20th century the big names associated with this theme include the existentialists  Sartre and Heidegger.
A bonfire of the vanities

Of course this did not arrive unheralded in 1900 and  other philosophers including Kierkegaard  had identified this theme before

What I note looking particularly at Heidegger is that although by virtue of his work and his scholarly achievements he has few equals as a public person he seems to be a lamentable specimen .

Martin Heidegger was as a person, if the literature about him is to be believed  a provincial man who cast aside his friends and lovers for career and showed little sign of regret for his part in adding credibility to the Nazi establishment in Germany ahead of  and through World War II.

This has set  me to thinking about heroes we have - as a younger person I suppose I was almost automatically drawn to admire certain figures, for me Bobby Charlton or The Beatles rather than Napoleon, Macmillan  or Sir Walter Raleigh   at the time I put these people on pedestals,  there was less in the way of a revelatory culture at this time about the weakness of public figures and it's fair to say that more leeway is granted to popular music figures than a Prime-minister.

So it is in Philosophy as in other aspects of our life that when we choose to follow a school of thought or perspective on life we attach more than we should (emotionally and intellectually)  to the figures who champion it.
Would Roy Lichtenstein be amused? I'd like to think so.  

I suppose in fact in Philosophy one has so much more riding on the direction chosen - how can existentialism be so good if Nazi Heidegger was a proponent?

Much as in our lovers and friends we can admire quirks and idiosyncrasies that in others are severe flaws of character we should perhaps accept or look at as irrelevant to their work their own weaknesses (as perceived by us in our supposed perfection).

As I mature (or get older anyway) I'm still drawn to irrationally admire some figures only to find later that do have the customary feet of clay, be it Gandhi or Heidegger- well here's a list of traits that can be viewed in a positive or less positive way.

And I think artists like Picasso, Dali and Mondrian were probably just as flawed as a Sartre or a Nietzsche but the standards we hold them too are somewhat lower and at least they were generally less likely to be hypocrites. Sad top say too that the respect we have for a shop-worker is often  lower than that we may lavish on a President of Russia.

It might be that the 'virtues' we see -perhaps being single minded  are not always virtues - where's your hinterland? others might ask.

And of course we may wish to take the approach that much (or even all) of a person's personality  is down to Genetic inheritance or even Social conditioning - so although we take no blame for a poor action we can also take no credit  for a good one.

Well for me we can strive to take  the good bits of a person or their ideas and aggregating it with other admirable ideas and attitudes from others and become a better more rounded person this way rather than  slavishly trying to emulate another be it a person we know or a person (more accurately) that we think we know.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Down on the plot along with BBC and BT adapting to the future

Sprouts for Christmas anyone?

Fruit trees have a mulch.

Yesterday after some time tidying in the garden, leaf collection , securing Bird nester and trimming I was on Plot 202 not for long but did really like the experience of being out and about on anice winter's day.
Down on Plot 202 - the last of 2014?

Put some wood chippings/mulch around fruit trees and picked some sprouts -could be the last time I'm on the site for 2014, I hope not.

BT and rights issue

Well my first introduction to the world of shares and more particularly 'The Right Issue'  was I think (and this is going to sound bad) buying my dad's allocation of Nat. West (I think) shares when I was at University - didn't really have a clue what it was about but did recognise it as a purchase at a sub market price - I now know a little more and the fact that BT needs to borrow to fund a mobile purchase is not surprising but it is heavily market dependent and not sure how the market will react at the time if happens.

BT does need to get a mobile string to its bow but this is not without risk - I overheard some people who seem to work in Telecoms and their conversation was all about reactions from competitors.

BBC 3 TV to fold (i.e. 'go on-line') 

Well the end (I would say) of BBC 3 is confirmed and BBC 4 is at risk too.

I can see the logic in the BBC pulling it's Digital TV channel aimed at the Youth & Young people section of the population in favour of a Plus One of its mass market offering BBC 1.

The question though of approving is a very different one - BBC 3 has done some interesting things, some have made their way to the main networks others have merely made ripples that have gone beyond the immediate audience.

The idea that a BBC 3 can flourish in a purely  on-line existence is naive, TV on that big thing in the living room is a different experience and although convergence may have made it less so there's a real danger that a BBC 3 without a place in the EPG is lost in a great lake of content - schedule does remain important.

And the BBC 1 Plus - well I think it diminishes the BBC, IPlayer and repeats mean that many of us can catch what we missed  (and that won't be sport and 'event' TV) without resorting to time shift channels.

 E4 and a host of other UK channels recognises  a young audience and the BBC should too
Ideally an alternative to commercial TV should be there for all and that includes TV for the Youth, in the shape of  BBC 3.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas, Christianity and keeping in touch

Christmas and the New Year is definitely a time of reflection (more of this in the days to come I'm sure) but it is also a time when we may think about Jesus Christ.

I'm not a believer in Jesus as the son of God but broadly speaking I would aspire to see the Jesus of compassion, and love as a role model, I don't know if other religions can be separated off in the same manner and the unbelievable elements 'parked'.

It seems to me (and others I'm sure) that there was a man called Jesus who lived what we might think as an almost exemplary life (there was that though I think that bit when he worried his parents) - what happened after his death is that legends sprang up about his conception and his rising up after his death (perhaps this allegorical?)   - like so many heroes we (mankind) often need to add to the story beyond what is possible (I can imagine that this is the bit that does demonstrate religion and faith).

We become Fans (as in fanatics) - Clapton is God, some footballer or other walks on water

Well we might decry organised religion and the terrible things that have been done in its name over the years and certainly the lives damaged by abusing priests seems difficult to countenance but the idea of aspiring to be a better person, more charitable and kinder does not seems such a bad ambition.

 And here's an example of rebirth - in Uxbridge Road Ealing

Demolished, Removed levelled
..and remade new again as A2 Dominion 

Christmas  Cards

Well Christmas is an odd time of the year, pressure for some, great joy for others - a time for enjoying company but others suffer loneliness.
When  I look at the people who we keep in touch with Christmas it seems a slightly odd selection, relations and friends acquaintances and loved ones, but why this old school friend and not this one or why this cousin and not this one?

Talking to an old friend recently we reflected on how the cards we went to were a selection of discrete groups,   some who would know each other and others who were their own single entities as far as we were concerned - an enormous Venn diagram shifting and shrinking through the years.
I continue to send cards to some who I know I think I will never get cards from - just as a small shout out in a tiny voice from the edge of diagram to the edge of theirs.

My list includes people we holidayed with once, old school and college friends and those I worked with twenty or so years ago - long may it be so.

They'll be out for recycling in a few weeks