Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is busy for Bank holidays and as this Monday was a fine one there were a lot of people there - it attracts lots of overseas visitors as well as regulars.

What we both like about visiting Kew is that people aren't all on their phones and each visit is so different not just because of the seasons but also the little additions that are made in exhibitions and things.

Kew Palace has a clear Dutch influence

And a Japanese Garden

And I'm guessing a Japanese visitor too

A nice place for Afternoon Tea?


I'm not sure if our PM visiting Japan is doing the right thing in drawing attention to the fact that she wants to fight the next General Election as leader of the Tories - does rather remind us where it went wrong - I suppose the choice is limited for her but raising her head above the parapet does mean someone might take aim.

Sometimes there are worse things to be than a quitter  - and to me the idea of Chancellor Hammond moving next door could be a move with some merit- to see either Rees-Mogg (the 19th Century candidate) or Boris (the Boris candidate) at Number 10 though would perhaps be worse than the severely constrained Theresa May - Tory party conference could become something almost interesting this Autumn.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Make it Sunday (Ealing)

Today has seen plenty of rain in West London, one way to look at this is to think how lucky we were to have a fine bank holiday - Sunday was warm and as part of various people's initiatives (including the London Mayor I think)   Ealing's Bond Street  was closed to traffic and a number of activities were highlighted by 'Make it Sunday'.
The Historic Studios 

I had a small part in OPEN Ealing's presence just by 'For Arts Sake' and managed to sell a print of the Ealing (Film) Studios - it was in fact one of the first prints I displayed and I was delighted to find it a home.
This would have been good for Nick Conn

The nice thing about the event was that it brought people into the area and revealed to many what Bond Street (the local one) has to offer.

Plenty of food and music along with some classic cars

Browsing prints

Flaming Cow restaurant looked busy 

The event majored on Art (of various types ) demonstrations organised by Open included Weaving, and Creative writing.

Find out about Aruna's Weaving
Viv's 'Students' created work - and a singer on the 'Hootie' stage

Another old car 

Good Day Sunshine - and a good day turnout too

Executive Pay and oversight

Seems that UK PM Theresa May has not completely forgotten what an extraordinary way top businesses choose to reward their executives and is firing warning shots over the bows of some of the mega paying companies. (The proposal has though been severely watered down)

Now I recognise Capitalism delivers much and pay can be used as an incentive but come on some examples are just beyond greedy.

Seems to me that the practice in U.S. boardrooms of crazy pay  has been imported into the UK - astonished to see that US companies with under-performing stocks like Discovery would choose to pay long serving CEOs such extraordinary sums.

How can it be that David Zaslav (been CEO for 10 years)  was deemed to be worth $37.2 million in 2016 , up 14.8 percent compared with his 2015 compensation of $32.4 million.

 I'm puzzled how this incentive works (for stockholders)  the stock price fell- can it be that he Zaslav is responsible for the fall - or if he'd not been at the helm would the fall have been greater?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A week missing?

One of Grayson's Pots
A couple of shows
So now I'm not actively running a 365 project it's easier for me to miss a few days - not because nothing is going on but because there's a lot.

After Ian introducing us to Humour in Art decided to pop over to see Grayson Perry exhibition at Serpentine - nice to see a lot of visitors and a wide range of work - he's far from a one trick 'ceramics' pony.

A sort of self portrait 

I think Grayson is a very interesting figure (not least because he's from where I spent early years - Chelmsford) - He plays the humour card but is not scared to confront major issues - the idea of which would have once been anathema to most of UK society.

More difficult was the Arthur Jafa exhibition at Sackler 'sister' gallery  but worth a visit too.

Part of the Arthur Jafa exhibition
The Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Francis Kéré

A pleasant walk too

Labour get more Pro European

Well over a year since referendum vote and dust still settling on the way UK Politicians are playing this - David Davis strategy  not playing  well on either World stage or  to his 'home crowd' - even more difficult to keep the painfully split bunch of Tory MPs (above all else they're keenest on keeping power).

If Theresa May's election gamble had paid off we'd have a far stronger hand it the deal making as it is here government is isolated at home and even more abroad - seems Labour are not scared to exploit this weakness - the autumn party conference will be interesting. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Seriously Funny at CityLit

I've mentioned, positively on more than one occasion CityLit and have another reason to sing their praises.
At CityLit we looked at Humour (including the absurd)

On Saturday I joined a one-day course called Seriously Funny - a history of art and humour run by Ian Tucknott, Ian introduced himself as a cultural theorist and humorous artist (as well as a serious poet).  Examples of his work were shown line in/line out ( a work about communication using 'string' telephone' as a starting point)  and binoculars.

Ian revealed as the  day went on the debt and the influence he got from Marcel Duchamp.

There were only 6 of us on the course but this was not a bad thing as it enabled a high level of participation.

Part of Duchamp legacy

The exploration that the day provided covered topics around:

 being in on the joke and the superiority this gave the informed audience

-The idea that Galleries are serious places.

- we looked at the forms of humour in various art works  including incongruity,  Surrealism (and the Absurd) and Puns and the way that Satire was used (citing Hogarth as an early exponent).

Always nice to have the possibility of following up and Ian has promised to send us the presentation with links, which should include David Shrigley, Martin Creed, Erwin Wurm as well as Francis Alys (The Last Clown is an example of his work)  and Bruce Nauman (Double No was mentioned) also Banksy.

Hanna Hoch (1889 - 1978) and Yoko Ono were examples of female artists in a male dominated field.

Certainly much of what is covered in these works is 'serious' but humour is a great way of communicating some difficult topics.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Time for an Energy Deal?

Perhaps it's just another way of marking the passage of time ...

I suppose (for me) it's manageable but the annual energy contract reminds me what a mess the 'competitive' supply arrangements in the UK are.
Might ask for a smart meter too

I've nothing against my current supplier 'Flow' but the price hike of over £185 (about 18%) is way out of line for general inflation or the increased costs the company is facing so I do feel obliged to be ' non-loyal' and find another provider.

Looking at the 'switch' sites, which I believe get more than £50 per completed switch (be nice if in the interests of transparency the switch sites made this public)   I can see several better deals but there are others from other companies that are not supported by the automated switch - have chosen Oneselect - their price for 2017/18  actually lower (and with no early exit charge) than cost for 2016/17.

Either the UK government needs to make consumer supply market genuinely competitive or impose some sort of control (as they proposed a few months ago)- utilities like energy are 'natural monopolies' only differentiation is the service - flow have been fine and I will see how this company operates over next 12 months.

From my experience working with CAB on energy deals I know that the active consumer is in the minority and the well informed (and often financially secure) can make the best of these sort of switching deals - vast majority can't be bothered or are in debt and want to avoid confrontation that might ensue.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back at Soane's

A great Museum
In a way of late I've come to realise that Sir John Soane does not, perhaps get the acknowledgement for his part in the creation of modern London that he deserves.

Earlier this week I paid (another) return visit to the central London home of the Sir John Soane Museum.

I also now realise that The Mason's Hall (quite close to what is now the Museum)  was designed by Soane and that The Bank of England wasn't - although various additions to it were.

Each time I visit the Museum I get some more information, either about Sir John, his career or his times.  Learning about the achievements he made is  as a result of information form the guides  who are on the whole pretty good.
The Dulwich Gallery - another of Sir John's projects

I wonder though if Soane was such a difficult father as the guy showing us Hogarth's A Rake's Progress said - he was obviously loyal to his late wife (and their dog) but I question  the perspective that Soane's wife bought the series of paintings is used as a slightly lazy shorthand to describe the dynamic between John Soane and his son or sons.
Masonic Hall by Sir John

If he was difficult it was perhaps as a result of how he felt his own rise was by hard work (he was son of a relatively humbler builder).

 George his younger son did have troubles but they were not too similar to Tom Rakewell -and his other son John (here's a picture of the two boys) predeceased him.

Pitzhanger Manor from a couple of years back - currently under refurbishment 

Soane was the man who designed the Dulwich Gallery and who had his family country home in Ealing (Pitzhanger Manor).

Another nice thing about the Museum is how they feature some modern works too - presently that's work by Marc Quinn - and is called 'Drawn from Life'

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Cultural Outings - Photographers' Gallery

A good place for Photographers to meet
It's sometime since I've visited The Photographers' Gallery (just of Oxford Street in the hear of London's West End), as a new exhibition is now on and as both John and I enjoy photography  it seemed a very good place to meet  ahead of a walk down to John Soane's House (near Holborn).

 The Photographers' Gallery is spread over quite a few floors (four plus basement) and the current works to be seen are dominated by  work of Gregory Crewdson 'Cathedral of the Pines' - both John and I were new to his 'oeuvre' so found it all rather intriguing.

What Crewdson (A former Punk rock group member who is now a Professor at Yale) does is work of a 'film-ic' nature - with dark images (in terms of the character of the subjects) looking to be connected serious events - the work is seen to connect to diverse influences including the artist Edward Hopper and Film director Alfred Hitchcock.

Also on show was an 'interactive' area  where visitors are invited to consider food photography -nice idea but  I'm not sure how well it works - it's an area of photography that is significant but the elements to use suggested the Japanese restaurants that use 3D plastic models.

It's a real challenge 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Giacometti, Energy and Private Data

Figures that are very much his trademark 
For me Alberto Giacometti is one of those names that's familiar but I don't immediately know why, actually I should say I didn't - yesterday we went to Tate Modern to see why the name rings a bell.

In fact although the name is one of those incredibly Italian names - the artist (for that's what he was) hails from Switzerland  - born around the turn of the century he was a painter, designer but is now chiefly now celebrated as a sculptor -as the exhibition shows.

His father too was an artist so perhaps not that surprising that as the eldest son he should follow in his father's footsteps.

Sadly his life was not a long one - he died at the age of 66 from Bronchitis  probably not helped by being a fairly heavy smoker.

It was also rather nice to run into a couple of BEAT artists also visiting the exhibition - Nigel (a man who revels in Collage) and Elizabeth (work influenced by nature)  were as I have found previously a pleasure to meet and briefly chat with.

The cafés and bathrooms are good at Tate Modern
Westminster fun fair - with EU in background?


I see that the blessed Theresa is said to be planning a Mea Culpa moment this years Tory conference - apart from the fact that sorry is a bit late coming - why is it that the action she proposed taking to hold down domestic energy prices has been abandoned?

A limit to energy profiteering seems to be something that most of the MPs of the major parties could unite behind and would help those 'Just Abouts'  (JAMs) she spoke about once upon a time.


New laws on Data Protection

Oh yes another thing that puzzles me is where this sudden interest that the Tory/DUP Government has in our rights around Personal Data?

Odd that the EU is having much the same laws drafted - doesn't it make you realise that in the real world the EU will still dictate our laws but now as outsiders - I suspect the same reasoning behind abandonment of internal combustion engine- why don't we recognise that the EU is the only game in town for us and Brexit  (despite the mantra) doesn't mean sweet FA?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Big file

Well this in a way is the end of my Camera Fund theme (but also in another way the beginning) - I got the new G7 Mark II yesterday and am staggered by it - but initially also slightly disappointed (as we can be with 'material' things) - was it about 'saving up' and that was the key  thing?
As pictured by the G15

I now see it does an amazing job and am looking forward to giving it some real tests (perhaps get a phone that will work with it too).

And here's a picture from it
Birthday Hamper (file size 7.5MB)

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Lift takes a few seconds to 33rd floor
Well last week was my Uncle's 80th Birthday and this week mine (not 80th though!) - they seem like a time for reflection as well as celebration.

For my Uncle my brother and I got him a hamper with some treats/goodies in it  - also managed to speak to him which was nice, he's the only Uncle I have left.

Anyway back to me and my Birthday as well as cards and presents I got a gift from Hobbycraft (seriously) £5 to spend - I suppose this is as I use my loyalty card but still it seems like a nice gesture from them and one I will be able to use.

Crispy Beef was delicious

Rice and Lamb too

So for a celebration lunch we went to Floor 33 at The Shard and had a great Chinese meal at Hutong, sadly inclement weather limited our view but it'll be worth going to again (other dining options in The Shard too - like Afternoon Tea).
Quite a view while you pee

The visit to the restrooms reminded me of our visit to  Cloud 23 in Manchester which also has spectacular views.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Discovery TV's latest deal

Discovery TV - too corporate?

The latest takeover deal  of Scripp's Network (owner of Food Network amongst others) by Discovery is another sign of the increasing consolidation within the media/TV sector.

It seems that the deal has been on the cards for some time but I was still slightly surprised to find that there wasn't an uplift in Discovery's share price (it does seem a lot of money though).

Problem is that against Netflix and Amazon this looks a bit of a tired offering - increasingly pay TV viewers want something that generates the 'Water Cooler' moments the big networks used to be able to rely on - Diners, Drive ins And Dives just isn't in that arena. (for that matter nor is  my favourite the Charles Stiles  Mystery Diners ).

Where critical mass is so important I'm a bit puzzled that the UK's ITV is still by itself - it does at present in the world market kick above its size.

What I noticed when I worked for Discovery was that it had a very corporate structure, to make a good profit there's an element of risk- relegating your outfit to 'Utility' status is not great  - I'm not sure that this is the best for a 21st Century creative enterprise.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Where we're going..

always the case?
Was reminded yesterday of the multiple layers of what 'Science Fiction' is about and how it can be read.

For me Science Fiction is at its best when it's not obviously that - I'm thinking of things like John Wyndham's Day of The Triffids or Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers books  - these are in many ways (and not to belittle them) just fiction.

A close to reality Spaceman in the exhibition

 As I expect you can imagine the crowd at an exhibition ostensibly about Sci-Fi was predominantly male but there were quite a few mothers with children of various ages - the vibe was quite restrained and lots of displays of books and clips of films along with models.

It was nice too to see a bit of work had been done around the Black consciousness reading of 'Other Worlds' and the idea that it some way they were 'the other' - I noticed less the part that the Cold War had in the 1950's films and fiction.

A view of the future 

The 'Into the Unknown' might at this time be likened to the  case of the UK leaving the EU a move which looks increasingly bleak to many economists,  businessmen and businesswomen.

While some see the current battles within cabinet as jockeying for the chance to replace the current PM others see the battle as far more ideological - time will tell how it plays out but for now we should perhaps avoid excessive borrowing.


After saving - I've transferred the money back to make the purchase.

Back into digits

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Cabinet Tensions and Theresa's hold on Power

As much as I could be a fan of any the current UK government  cabinet lineup it's have to be Philip Hammond who has not only put his head above the parapet but has to my mind been talking something which comes dangerously close to sense in the Tory party of today.

Well guess who has shot him and his idea of avoiding a 'cliff edge' down the PM - why has she done this?
A superhero -  It's not  'Spreadsheet Phil'

One theory would be that she's relying on the 'Hard Brexiters ' to keep the severely beleaguered PM in her post and avoid another election which the Tories may lose - trouble is what we're seeing is the weakness of the UK position being revealed to those who we are now negotiating with.

I'm not sure how well founded Vince Cable's talk of a Boris threat to leave the cabinet was - it would certainly have ramifications - I must say the idea of the seriously wealthy Rees Mogg in a position within the government does not inspire me

Now would perhaps be a good time for Labour to start pushing hard for an exit from the EU which is 'softer' and does not throw the economic bath water out with the immigration baby - it could actually affect the Government position as many Tories are uncomfortable with the rhetoric from the right of their party.

Sort of over

The saving is pretty much over and money in the bank..

It's metamorphosis to a camera has started