Monday, August 09, 2010

Riverside Festival

On Saturday evening I went to the Riverside Festival in Nottingham, on the banks of the River Trent. Probably 75% of the city's population were crammed into an area the size of a school playing field, intent on spending their hard earned (or signed for) pounds on a variety of rides and street food.

The evening ended with a firework display to dazzle the masses, and was a great way to see how the city fathers have chosen to spend the council tax this year. Here are some snaps of the evening, along with artistic blur to enhance the war/documentary photography feel...

This stall was massively popular - inebriated parents inserted their offspring into huge inflated plastic balls, then launched them across a miniature lake...and roared with laughter as their brats slowly suffocated and staggered and flopped their way to seasickness. This is evidently the culmination of thousands of years of cultural evolution...truly we have come a long way from gladiators in the arena and so on.

This unfortunate fellow was shot in the arm as he enjoyed a ride; one of the hazards of the job when you live in Nottingham...

The gun shop had a stall which was a popular draw...

Fireworks! It was like an artillery bombardment, but more colourful, less deadly and hugely entertaining. So nothing like an artillery bombardment at all.

Alix and Cara had a go on some of the rides...

...walked around some of the stalls...

...and went on some more rides.

So there you go. If you were eagerly anticipating photos of my expedition with Clay to Lunt Roman Fort, then bad luck. I'll stick some pics of that up soon. Or never. Or something.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tom in Nottingham

Here are some photos of Tom, in Nottingham.
Some of these turned up on Tumblr, so you have seen half of them already. Nevertheless (or neverthemore) I thought I may as well ram them down your throat some more, because I haven't taken a photo of anything else in a while.

Tom was extremely patient while I fiddled about with the flashes, camera and so forth and generously didn't mind that my directions mainly involved saying things like "Er... ah... turn your erm..." or "Look to the light. No, don't. No, do." etc.

There were two main reasons for this exercise; one to have someone stand there while I snapped away, so I could get more 'practise' (for what, God alone knows) and also because I had a particular shot in mind...

Not this one. I think Tom was waiting while I muttered something like "Just need to check the flashes are working" or whatever, for the millionth time.

Among other things, Tom does some free-running, or Parkour. To my utter surprise, 'parkour' doesn't seem to be a part of a wider lexicon - well, Alex claimed not to know what it means anyway. Parkour is an energetic street sport, in which participants leap and tumble over whatever they can find in their path - ranging from rubbish bins to Big Issue sellers. Apparently it was invented in France, with historic influences from Africa and Indo-China - undoubtedly first practiced by Foreign legion soldiers as part of escape and evasion tactical training.

Since the glory days of Dien Bien Phu and Kolwezi however, parkour has become Starbucksized into a watered down, wishy-washy consumer culture shadow of it's former self. No longer do participants undergo a strenuous jugement par combat by way of initiation, instead DIY guides and t-shirts proliferate on the internet, while an 'Official' Parkour network has been established, along with events sponsored by Red Bull, and probably Audi or something. In fact, you may recall that bit at the beginning of Casino Royale where Daniel Craig sprints around a building site - a scene so far removed from the original spirit of parkour as to be almost parodic. About the only nods to authenticity were the guns and explosions. And the bulldozer. And the Hawaiian shirt. Actually, that scene is about as close as Hollywood or you will ever come to le parkour authentique.

Hang time

If you're going to complain that I've cropped the hands/feet off then it's Tom's fault for not jumping high enough. He only got to about 10 feet off the ground here, which in my view wasn't really trying. I quite like the shot though, so it doesn't matter what you think.

First curtain flash. Dammit, should've gone for the rear curtain.

This is kind of the shot I had in mind. Not really, but sort of.

Anyway, Tom was a great subject and I can put you in touch if you have any parkour that needs doing. Normal programming will resume shortly, ie a blog post every three months.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Green's Mill, Sneinton

Marcus came round, because he had to go to some kind of Viking conference in Nottingham this weekend. To make up for the sheer boredom that must have entailed, we decided to go to Green's Mill, where Science and Flour collide.

Marcus, having just been told where we're headed, wondering whether it's too late to back out and catch the next train north.

Marcus takes a snap of Green's Mill, while laughing in the face of danger (walking around Sneinton without an armed escort)

Green's Mill was the home of
George Green, Nottingham's most famous son and the man who basically invented mathematics. His legacy to the people of Britain is an operational flour mill, which to this day provides most of Nottingham's flour, and science.

Alix thought we were joking when we told her where we were going.

At the heart of the mill is a flux capacitor, which allows the amalgamation of flour and Science using a cold fusion process invented by Green while high on a tincture of lysergic acid.

Marcus takes a closer look, risking genetic mutation and a nasty sunburn.

After wandering around the entirety of the attached museum for thirty seconds, and getting stuck behind bawling toddlers snotting all over the interactive displays we made our way to the windmill! Alix and Marcus got stuck talking to some bloke who looked old enough to have been one of George Green's personal chums, and by the time he'd finished off the bottle of shandy he was clinging onto he probably thought he was. After they finally managed to extricate themselves from his rantings we climbed aboard.

Alix, illuminated by the glow of plutonium graphite rods in the cooling tank at the base of the windmill.

The mechanism has been repaired over the years with bits of Enigma machines.

This chain hoists bags of wheat to the top of the windmill, prior to the grain being converted into Science.

Bagging area, where powdered Science is measured and weighed using avoirdupois measurements

Sacks of raw Science, packaged up and ready for despatch.

After exhausting the photographic possibilities of the windmill (which didn't take long, especially as the miller made good his escape within minutes of us boarding), we set our sights on the churchyard of St Stephen's - minutes walk from the windmill, and burial place of George Green.

His memorial is not well marked, and it took a detailed survey of the graveyard to finally locate his resting place. Exhausted, we paused only to take some portraits, then - as the rain started pelting down - made our way back to the car.

Marcus ponders the achievements of the man to whom we owe so much

Marcus gadding about. Show some respect for George Green!!

Marcus (left) and Alix (right) in the distance behind some dandelions.

As we bade farewell to Green's Mill, a howling wind whipped up dark clouds and driving rain spattered the windscreen...perhaps there is some truth in the local legend that Green stitched corpses together in the basement of the windmill on storm lashed winter evenings

Marcus shows how many thumbs up he gives Green's Mill

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Panic on the streets of London

“A Lacewing Fly Spreads Consternation in Wellington Street.”

a great post on Futility Closet reproducing some images from a 1910 edition of the Strand Magazine, in which the editor pondered the likely effects of insects many times larger than their actual size.

I wonder what the Edwardian phrase for LOLZ was...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wee infographic

Alec sent me an email today, containing an earth-shattering revelation:

"I calculated, last night, that in my life so far, I have had a staggering 70,000 wees. (based on 5 wees per 24 hour period)

In other words, if all my weeing was done in one go, this would be a monster piss that streamed for almost 1 month, continually, no stretching off, no breathers, just a long, seemingly endless river of piss, followed by an enormous sigh of relief and a cheeky little fart that slips out as I shake off. Imagine the looks of respect and envy I would get from fellow urinal-users. But then – and I know this from experience of wees (I’ve had a few, I can tell you) – I’d put the old boy away at the end of the aforementioned month only to discover that I’d mistimed it and actually there was still a dribble to come, but just maybe a day or so of in-pants dribbling.

If you assume that on average an entire trip to have a wee takes 5 mins (including checking yourself in the mirror, looking at washbasin afterwards, considering – and rejecting, once we’ve established no-one can see – the idea of washing hands, checking yourself again in the mirror from a different angle, remembering to zip up, etc etc) then we are talking of around 10 months of my life which has been spent going to have a wee.

I mean – that seems quite a lot, doesn’t it?

And – to bring an “Environmental Misogynist” perspective, given that birds use toilet paper to wipe off and we tend not to, that means they use a frightening 140,000 sheets (at least) of bog paper more than we do – that’s nearly 1,500 extra rolls of Andrex! How many trees is that? Lots, I imagine.


After I'd finished laughing (I admit I laughed so hard some wee might have come out - skewing the results of the chart), it occurred to me that there is a handy way of disseminating this kind of unpublished data... So I present to you what may be the world's first wee infographic. I extrapolated some data about the Falklands War, to which Alec added:

"This means that if I started weeing as our brave boys left their barracks in Hereford, I would be only just in my flow when the Belgrano bumped off the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean, and I would STILL BE WEEING as our boys yomped over to Goose Green and gave the Argies a good spanking. Now – everybody, together, including Maggie: 'aaaaah, I needed that one' ..."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wha' go on?

It's been a while since I posted anything up here, and I am sure you're agog with anticipation to find out what's been happening. Rather than bore you to tears with every minute detail of my hectic and frankly astonishing life I'll just spray a load of photos across your browser.

In the past few months I have mainly:

Partied hard

Checked out Lincoln Cathedral

Walked round in snow

Took photos of Alix

Walked around Leeds Christmas Market

Took photos of Cara

Walked round in rain

Took photos of tulips

And taken charge of a cat. Which you'll hear about in no doubt excruciating detail later on.