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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Up on my roof

I am always on the lookout for elevated platforms, natural or artificial, to look out over London from, and to take photos from. And as luck would have it, one of my favourite such platforms is one that I live directly under. Yes, if I go up to the roof of my block of flats, I can see, and I can photo, things like this:

That thing being the MI6 Building, made famous by the Bond movies. In the Bond movie that they were showing on Brit TV earlier this very evening, this building suffered an explosion. Dame Judi Dench looked on, aghast.

Another entertaining thing to be seen from this spot is the new US Embassy, now nearing completion just up river, as luck would have it, from the MI6 Building. Those peculiar structures sticking out to the side, on both sides as we look in the photo below, intrigue me. Officially they are sunshades. So, nothing to do with stopping people from eavesdropping? Absolutely not. Never crossed their minds. Mind you, there won’t be any such structure on the windows facing us, so maybe this is true. But, I prefer to believe otherwise:

All around this new US Embassy there is a huge building boom in progress. That Special Relationship that people keep saying is about to end remains pretty special, I would say.

Whereas the cranes working away around the above building are there to build it, the crane in this next picture is there to dismantle the big block of a building that we see. This is “New” Scotland Yard. The Metropolitan Police have already moved out, to an even Newer Scotland Yard, nearer to the river.

Next up, the two familiar towers attached to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and …, you know, … the other one. On the far side of the river but directly in line, The Wheel.

Finally, here are two snaps of how the same bit of the skyline was looking last night, just after midnight. I had guests with me last night, and after we had counted in the new year while watching these fireworks on the telly, I suddenly realised that we could see these same fireworks for real, if we just ran up a few staircases, and provided the fireworks kept on going for a bit. Which we did and they did:

Such is the quality of the cameras on mobile phones these days that several of my guests were also able to take photos.

In the above picture, The Wheel is totally blotted out, but in this final picture, you can clearly see it:

All of this was in aid of everyone wishing everyone else a Happy New Year, and I wish that to all my fellow Samizdatistas, and to everyone else who reads this.

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12 comments to Up on my roof

  • Mr Ed

    Those two Parliamentary towers are the Victoria and Elizabeth Towers respectively, the latter holding Big Ben.

    Those sun screens must be vital around the Winter Solstice. How do you cope with so much statism visible from your rooftop?

    And why are so many ‘important’ buildings being placed on the river, where a Hellburner could get close to them? Perhaps the ‘threat’ isn’t so real after all.

    And Skyfall, with the bleating, weeping Dench character paralysed with fear and timidity in the face of a psycho-babbling cry-bully with the wrong accent, is perhaps the worst film ever made.

    Nice pictures, thank you.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Mr Ed

    Are, that old chestnut about whether Big Ben is Big Ben or some other name that nobody in London ever uses. Or whether the other tower is what you said, again, a name never used by anyone in London of my acquaintance. I do know these official names. But what something is actually called is not, in a free country, merely determined by officialdom. Seriously, if you say: look, Big Ben, everyone understands that you mean the whole thing. If you say: look the Elizabeth Tower, you’d get very peculiar looks, and if you pressed the point (no, that REALLY IS the “Elizabeth Tower”, blah blah), they’d think you mad.

    As for coping with all the statism, well, statism is one of the biggest industries in London, probably the biggest. But there are lots of other things going on also. My camera has a powerful zoom lens, and this was a very selective collection of shots.

  • AndrewZ

    Do you ever get the feeling that the architects of the MI6 building were rather keen on Tetris?

  • Mr Ed

    Brian,

    Growing up as I did in inner London, it was always a point of pride in my school (despite it being run, iirc, by the INLA, the moderate but armed wing of the ILEA) to know that ‘Big Ben’ meant the bell, and no one had a name for the clock tower itself. To call the clock face by the name of the bell was regarded as appalling ignorance, which our ‘worker-teachers’ could not drive out of us; perhaps this is the root of my comment.

    I fully agree that ‘Big Ben’ is the appropriate name for the Tower, since it has passed into the language, that which we all possess, but none own, regardless of any bureaucratic wish. The name ‘Elizabeth Tower’ is only what Parliament’s ‘owner’, the Royal Palaces quango I presume, calls it as a gesture of apparent appreciation of the current Sovereign, much like Stalin renamed Königsberg ‘Kaliningrad’ after the USSR’s notional (but by then late) President. I think that they called it that as the Lefties in power have become quite fond of monarchy in recent years, perhaps fearing that they will not have the strength to murder us, they seek to co-opt that which they can control. Despite the equality mania, the Priesthood of the State does seem to enjoy handing out pretend honours to their pets, as if the State acting through the Crown had some sort of magic power to make people different, and hence legitimacy. The other day, they were even boasting about the diversity of the list, as if making sure that they had sufficient disabled Dames and knobbled Knights.

    And the poor old Victoria Tower has completely failed to establish itself under its name despite around 120 years of that designation.

    My own preferred monument in London would be a gilded statute of wise King Cnut, on the bank of the Thames in front of Parliament, gesturing from a throne against the tide, and sited so that only his crown would show at a high spring tide, as a reminder that he knew the truth of the limits of the State and its power far better than his courtiers.

  • bobby b

    “Those sun screens must be vital around the Winter Solstice. How do you cope with so much statism visible from your rooftop?”

    My understanding is that the screens contain a grounded copper grid meant to shield from statist electricity.

  • John K

    I find that I regret that the US Embassy will be moving. The existing building is rather fine, and I hope it is not going to be demolished. The new Tower of Power in Battersea will probably be vile.

    I also rather regret that the Scotland Yard building is going to be demolished, to be replaced by apartment buildings of a strange and unappealing design.

    There was nothing very special about Scotland Yard, it was a standard piece of 1960s modernism, but the thing is, one has grown used to it. It has been the backdrop of so many films, TV shows and news reports, and soon it will be gone. That is rather unsettling. A major building such as this should last rather longer than 50 years.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Mr Ed
    January 2, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    My own preferred monument in London would be a gilded statute of wise King Cnut, on the bank of the Thames in front of Parliament, gesturing from a throne against the tide, and sited so that only his crown would show at a high spring tide, as a reminder that he knew the truth of the limits of the State and its power far better than his courtiers.

    An excellent idea! We could do something similar here in the US, with a statue of Barack Obama commanding the seas to stop their rise. However, it would be fully submerged at high tide.

  • Flubber

    Mr Ed, you’re spot on. Skyfall is unadulterated bollocks.

    Yet its the most popular Bond film of the last 30 years. Gawd knows why…

  • Paul Marks

    Skyfall – yes dreadful.

    The inability of London people to tell a bell from a tower? As London people call British independence “Brexit” (who thought up that stupid word?) nothing surprises me about them. When I worked in that tower (I forget the number of the room, but it was the one assigned to Roger Freeman then a transport minister) no one thought I worked in “Big Ben”, so I suspect most people actually do know the tower is not called Big Ben.

    But let us return the actual post. Are the photographs good or not? They are clearly are good – so the post is a success.

    A good success.

  • djc

    there won’t be any such structure on the windows facing us

    Probably because you are to the North of it so not much sun to shade even at this time of year.

  • Schrodingers's Dog

    Brian,

    Thanks for the pictures. I used to live in London and still miss the place.

    Mr.Ed,

    I was going to propose that your suggestion (January 2nd, 3:45pm) be carried out, but PersonFromPorlock beat me to it, so I second him. And why, whenever anyone mentions King Cnut, do I find myself thinking of global warming / climate change / whatever it’s called this week, and the idea that government policy can influence the Earth’s climate a century hence?

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