Archive for February, 2004

Some Scottish steet furniture

Sunday, February 29th, 2004

‘Bon Accord’, the motto of the City of Aberdeen is emblazoned on many of their lamposts – it’s was also the title of their online city newspaper – sadly no more.

Following my recent lampost [ I know I know ]. Douglas, a regular reader, has kindly walked miles across the city of Aberdeen, braving the elements to bring us this fine collection of spectacular Aberdonian street furniture. Douglas has kindly written some commentary to go with the shots so I’ve included this. It’s almost as if he’s blogging himself now….

“This was the view from my window just before I set out. We’ve had snow all week. Also note how scenic the view is. 🙂 From here (on King Street) it’s a short(ish) walk to Union Street and the city centre. Walk along Union Street avoiding the kamikazee shoppers and you get to Holburn Junction. Go down to the left and just a short way along you come to:

It had stopped snowing by this point. This is on the corner or Justice Mill Lane and Holburn Street Aberdeen. It’s not a lampost. I think it’s a vent for drainage or sewage or something. Some years ago it got painted but before that I’d never given it a second thought because it was grey and just….there. Still, isn’t it pretty now? From here carry on down Holburn Street to the junction with Great Southern Road. Head on down great Southern Road and you’ll see the lamposts I mentioned. I don’t know a great deal about their history but Great Southern Road ends at a bridge called the George the 5th Bridge. Which probably has something to do with it.

This shot shows some of the double standards. Note how the third one back has different light fittings? I doubt any of the actual lights are original. Also some of the lamposts on this road are more modern and I suppose they are replacements for damaged ones. Near the Holburn Street end they are painted blue but, nearer the bridge end they are painted slightly differently. Which leads me on to:

Which shows what I mean.

These shots show some more doubles and the singles too. From here I cut through the Duthie Park and back up to Union Street. By this point I’ve walked quite a distance. A quick go round the town centre then up to PC World (sad) then back down home via Hutcheon Street where :

this shot is taken. I’m not entirely sure what these are for and the weather was turning bad again. There is a railway tunnel under the road so they could be vents for that but, it exits just on the other side of the road and I would have expected something like these to be about halfway along. rather than near the end. First time I saw them they were painted grey and then, some years ago, they got painted in the colours you can see now. All the vans and things that are visible in this photograph are because of burst water main (happened last night). I also took this opportunity to make sure I could still walk up this road as it’s on my route to work. I walked miles for this. Which was good exercise and I went to places I

hadn’t been in a while which was nice too. Shame the weather was not at it’s best. I’m not the worlds best photographer but I hope you enjoy them. Most of the rest of the lamposts in this city are very like anywhere elses really.”

Thanks Douglas – much enjoyed seeing these.

What have we learnt this week?

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

astroturf is no more.

There’s a place where very bad lookylikeys go.

Oral sex at 70 – now there’s a mental image.

Oral sex is not without risk.

Sydney Opera House is visible from space.

Via here to here – and you thought you’d seen the last of her.

Quickos has made a movie or two.

Carry On Abroad is Wrapstar’s favourite carry on when he’s not carrying on at the Call Centre.

Friday, February 27th, 2004

It’s DrD and he’s 93 and he’s a PhD – so there’s hope for me. He he.

Thursday, February 26th, 2004

HM Government

UK Citizenship Ceremony
Offical guidance

The venue must be a setting appropriate to the conduct of the ceremony of UK citizenship.
A poorly decorated church hall, out of town DIY store, inner city crack house or motorway service station are all good choices. Venues unique to regional localities may also be chosen; eg: Former internment camps, disused coalmines, nuclear power plants, highland sheep sheds or low cost regional airports – all have a unique place in UK society and are thus good choices also.

The venue should be equipped with the following:
1. Large format poster of Tony Blair.
2. Blu-Tak to affix poster to wall of venue.
3. Tape player (purchased from Argos).
4. Tape recording, tracks to be included:
Eastenders theme (Simon May Ensemble)
Greensleaves (Karaoke version – For use in England)
Donald where’s yoor troosers (Billy Connolly – For use in Scotland)
Bread of Heaven (Max Boyce – For use in Wales)
Things can only get better (D Ream – For use in Northern Ireland and Islington)
Congratulations (Sir Cliffe Richard – Bhangra Mix)
The Star Spangled Banner(National Anthem)

5. Folding table.
6. Union flag tablecloth.
7. Supply of protect and survive leaflets.
8. Black bin liners for collection of post ceremony litter.
9. Job seekers allowance claim forms.

Celebrant: All rise.

All the aspiring citizens present will stand while the theme music from Eastenders is played

Celebrant: Dear friends and asylum seekers we are gathered here today/this evening/this lunchtime/in despair (delete as appropriate) to assume the rights and responsibilities[ the celebrant will glance meaningfully at the TB poster at this point ] – of United Kingdom citizenship. This is a step not to be taken with a pinch of Maldon Sea Salt. If any person present does not know who Jonny Wilkinson is could s/he now leave the room and make their way to the front desk for re-programming. Pause for departures.

I will now ask those present to respond and make a series of pledges – the response in each case is “I do”

Celebrant: Do you promise to discuss the weather with a stranger at least once a week?
Citizen: I do

Celebrant: Do you pledge to eat fish and chips on Fridays?
Citizen: I do

Celebrant: Do you promise to strive for a consumer lifestyle fuelled by unsustainable debt and dodgy ringtones?
Citizen: I do

Celebrant: Do you pledge to follow the plotline of at least one televison soap opera for the rest of your life?
Citizen: I do

Celebrant: Do you pledge to undertake one of the following regularly:
a. Car boot sale
b. National Trust visitation
c. DIY

Citizen: I do – a b or c

Celebrant: Having made your pledges we now come to the final part of the ceremony, the Oath of Allegiance.
Please face the picture of Tony Blair and repeat after me.

I will talk proper English and try to fit in with my neighbours.
I do solemnly swear that I will obey all laws commands and dictates of our leader – for he has lovely teeth.
I promise to pay the bearer on demand.
I love Queen Brenda and will keep a picture of her in my house – I will pray for her in my own way.
I will not drop litter or play loud music.
I recognise that this oath may be recorded for training purposes and that I may be deported if I do not keep up repayments to my trafficker.

Celebrant: That concludes our ceremony. You are now citizens of the United Kingdom. Please leave quietly so as not to disturb the neighbours – place your litter in the black bin liners by the door.

All the citizens will then depart whilst ‘Congratulations’ is played. Other regional music may follow

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004

Raising the roof

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

This beautiful building – one of the wonders of the modern world – has a fascinating history. Drama, innovation, radical engineering, some of the finest concrete ever poured, political disaster, death – it’s all there if you dig deep enough. Bennelong Point – the site on which Sydney Opera House stands was once a tram depot. It’s transformation into a symbol of Australia; the right building in the right place at the right time – is all the more remarkable given that the construction method to a large degree was invented as they went along. Nothing like it had ever been built before and so totally new approaches were required.

Blue Witch, today posted a ‘mystery’ picture – it wasn’t long before it was identified, but unless you’ve seen the Opera House close up – or a detailed picture – you’d probably not guess that the ‘sails’ – or shells as they were known by the builders – are covered in over one million ceramic tiles.

The original 60s/70s tiles were largely replaced in the 1990’s as they had fallen into disrepair – they discussed selling off some of the originals as souvenirs – minutes of the discussion here. I haven’t been able to find out if they actually did this though. This is how they replaced the tiles.

There was an anti war protest in March 03 – this is how they cleaned the paint off the tiles.

Hornibrooks were one of the original contractors for the opera house.

They have a great website detailing it’s construction.

The construction of the roof is brilliant. Jørn Utzon’s design for the shells was eventually based on modified spherical geometry. However these complex 3D forms meant that there were very difficult problems with the shell and tile geometry. Despite using, then, state of the art, computers (think mid 60s – ie sub Sinclair spectrum) to plot the complex 3D geometry – the tiles did not fit properly when it actually came to mounting them. There was lots of clever jiggery pokery needed to make it work – but make it work they did.

The tiles were made up in panelled batches called ’tile lids’ and then applied to the concrete shells which are actually an open framework beneath the lids. Evidence of this framework can be seen on the underside of the shells where the beautiful concrete structure is exposed.

The original tiles were Swedish made and were a slightly off white colour. Around the perimeters of the tile lids the tiles were matt and within the lid bodies a more reflective finish. This is one of the reasons that the roof of the house shimmers and reflects the colour of the sky so beautifully.

The shell structures are incredibly light given their size and were assembled using tensioned precast concrete elements. The tile lids were preassembled on site and then raised into position on the shells. There is a great photo of a tile lid tray under construction on the Hornibrooks site. I have some further photos of the process that I’ll add here soon.

The building of the opera house is documented at length in this book. Probably too much information – unless you’ve visited and wondered, like me, how they did it.

That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, I really love your tiger feet

How we used to dance to this one.

So long Les Gray – who died today.

Lampost lurve

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

Out for a walk earlier, I decided to wander into a local development of what I can only describe as Yuppie Flats (‘apartments’ for my American friends). The estate has been open for about a year and is still being constructed. It’s all multi-tonal brick with patches of timber cladding and stainless steel and glass balconies. Optimistically a large number of residents have placed aluminium cafe style tables and chairs on their bijout balconies. They looked a bit sad in today’s biting freezing wind. Not a soul could be seen in this place; luxury cars parked outside the designer front doors betrayed the presence of the aspirational occupants within but no sign of humanity in the streets outside. No children playing – for this is a child free development, no dogs being walked – poochies are prohibited too, nobody passing by on the way to somewhere – there is only one road in and out. This is truly a sterile godforesaken place; on the outside anyway. The most interesting things for me were the designer lamposts that line the roadways. They are very nice indeed. Conical stainless steel columns with a hemispherical domed lanterns on top. Nice little mounting details where the lantern joins to the column. Look like they might be German made – a sort of tell tale quality about them.

Anyway I was reminded of some great lamposts I’ve seen in the past.
The first lampost to make an impression on me in design terms was the Parisien swan neck design I saw on my first visit to the city in the 1980’s. Graceful, understated, highly functional; quintessentially French elegance with an unashamed forward looking presence.

This lampost was later used at several sites within the UK; most extensively in Milton Keynes where it can still be seen lining many a boulevard.

Glasgow is the city of Mackintosh so what finer tribute can they pay him than deploying numerous Mockintosh stylee lamposts all over the shop. This little number

is planted at the east end of the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) – I once spent several hours looking at this particular elevation as I queued for the Mackintosh Centenary Exhibition in 1996 – but that’s another story. The Mackintosh style lamposts can be seen at several sites around the city in addition to the GSA precincts. It’s a very nice design indeed – I certainly would not object to having one outside my house. It can also be seen at the Hillhouse in Helensburgh – you know you’re getting near the house when the ordinary lamposts suddenly change to the Mackinstosh style ones.

Well, you might be thinking by now that I’m a sad old sod to be going on about lamposts. I care not – unashamed street furniture fetishism is mine. How excited I was, then, to find a site dedicated to the lamposts of New York City and to learn that the authorities there are holding a competition to design a city lampost for the 21st Century. Forgotten NY is a lovely site with many a section devoted to the urban heritage of the city. Kevin Walsh, owner of the site, is a lifelong lampost enthusiast. A great article in a recent New Yorker describes his early fascination with streetlights from his childhood in the sixties. Kevin has got it bad, that’s for sure. As you might have guessed I’m pretty afflicted myself. Now I wonder if any readers know of any sexy streetlights in their own locale?

“I often wonder, ‘Why couldn’t the pretzel George Bush was eating have been bigger?’ “

The patient has received further treatment at the request of his public.
As you can see, the results have only been partially successful. It is now perhaps best that no further surgery is carried out lest we precipitate a total facial collapse.
The whole Joan Rivers facectomy nightmare being never far from my mind.

What have we learnt this week?

Saturday, February 21st, 2004

Blue Witch has a sand collection bottle in her coven.

Douglas has issues with large bellies following him around the room.

Bow Road tube station has acquired a mysterious padlocked door at the end of the blue wall furthest away from the station entrance.

Elsie is back and she’s got blue lips.

Mark has a rollout schedule.

Work has started on the V&A Spiral – a major landmark building in the nation’s capital.

Harriet has had a bald patch in one of her eyebrows for ages.

8-9mm of rain fell in Simon’s works garden between Monday and Friday.

Birdman has a friend who runs a taxi service.

Over 30% of Alan’s underwear respondent readership wear briefs.

Your tits will not deflate if you stop drinking.

The tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenae is devoid of any light.

Friday, February 20th, 2004