Saturday, 25 June 2016


I thought yesterday evening's Muse at Glastonbury would be a perfect antidote to the day's unfolding political events. And yes, they played Supermassive Black Hole, and Matt Bellamy did say "Thank you, merci, danke schön" so at least some of the European bases were being covered.

Here's a link to yesterday's Glastonbury 2016 with Muse playing Mercy.

There's plenty of other good stuff including the entire Héloïse Letissier (Christine and the Queens) set. Although, come to think of it, 'Tilted' (at 20:00) may under-express the change in UK over the last day.

As an example, I notice that the global markets dropped by $2 trillion. Some of those gamblers on hedge funds must be minted, if they shorted UK stocks.

Less so for savers or people paying into pension schemes, where a probable loss of 6-10% in a single day is quite a singularity.

I had a quick look at a few of the market closes.

Even with the fiddly graphs on this picture, the drop is plain to see. By close of play the FTSE had made up some of the ground, leaving a somewhat ransacked UK banking sector in its wake. Less fortunate were the Italians and the Spanish, both down about 12%.

Coincidentally, the founding member countries of the EU are having an offsite in Berlin this weekend, but instead of an agreeable wine-tasting and opera-fest, they'll have to figure out how to prevent the speculated Frexit, Spexit, Duxit and similar referenda from occurring.

Natacha Bouchart, the Calais mayor, has made her position demanding fast change known. Yesterday evening she said she wanted to suspend the costly and troubled French policed border crossing at Calais.

That would move the challenging management of the border back to the English side.

Meanwhile the French and Germans are looking at ways to entice financial services business to their cities. Someone has thrown Dublin into the mix as well, although (even based on the traffic jams) I'm guessing that is more of a negotiating position. By comparison, when I worked around Frankfurt's financial district I was struck by its brilliantly close airport and ICE links but small size compared with London. There's already talk of thousands of banking jobs being moved across. There's also talk of suspending the $20 billion LSE/Deutsche Börse merger because the Germans now want the main centre to be in Frankfurt.

At the same time, the comedy London Independence Party has emerged with its purple logo and twitter feed and I've seen a few of those ScotLond designs as well, although a high speed train link might not be enough. Maybe London will have to be extra friendly with Nicola Sturgeon, who is already attempting to keep special terms for Scotland and the EU.

Incidentally, the left of the picture shows the Tower of London. I'm wondering if it may need to be re-opened for a special guest? At least the ravens are still there.

In other infrastructure news, the troubled EDF Hinkley Point CGT union energy spokeswoman Marie-Claire Cailletaud indicates new uncertainty, with the project now in a different kind of country, soon to be outside the European Union.

I knew I should have picked up the Prospectus for the changes, before the vote.

Oh, wait a minute, there weren't any?

Friday, 24 June 2016

crazy in the coconut?

Yeah, well. We're on the path to being out of the EU.

The FX traders had stayed up overnight chipping away at the pound, from the pre-poll close at $1.50, then to $1.44 on the first results and by morning down around $1.34. Black Wednesday again. Twice.

As the stock market opened we saw FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 plummet. Aside from the listed companies' own fortunes, it's also pension funds and jobs that take the hammering.

At least Mark Carney's Bank of England action was a stabilising force. He'd found £600 billion of liquidity and provided access to £250 billion of it to the banks. This action stopped the slide and saw a partial recovery on the markets.

Ironically, the BoE £250 billion is somewhat larger than the hotly contested figure of £350 million per week that was a headline figure during the pre-referendum campaigning.

It's about 13 years worth of that money, provided all at once. Quantitive Easing, anyone?

Whilst Carney brought some management, Cameron was speeching his own exit. Saying he wanted to bring stability whilst at the same time quitting and throwing a new leadership scramble onto the table. I notice the Economist didn't mince its words when it described Cameron afterwards.

Flash over to Islington, where Bo-Jo was getting into a minicab prior to his own statement. The crowds seemed -er- animated. He is no doubt doing a few career deals and getting storyline before he goes in front of the cameras.

Less so with the Labour guy. He was on BBC radio earlier than Cameron and talking about job losses. He seems to have become swamped in the speculation of a further leadership contest for his own party.

And if Cameron is only around until October, there'll be a new selection process for his replacement. They need someone to press the big red button to fire the EU ejector seat. Assuming that the EU survives. There's already talk of Frexit and the Italian stock market is taking a duffing from today's events.

Osborne is unselectable and already the nominated scapegoat. In any case the voting will need to be for a new Brexiteer Prime Minister. Unlike the referendum, this will be in the hands of the mere 160,000 members of the Conservative Party.

Unless someone decides it is time to call a General Election.

Stability, huh?

Thursday, 23 June 2016

let X=X: referendum music to vote by: Thursday Thirteen

Its a Thursday - so Thursday Thirteen would be on the cards. It's also referendum day, so I'll see whether I can find a few quick songs to assist the voting process.

1) Dazed and Confused - live Led Zeppelin with a lesson in Les Paul playing.

And of course the dazed and confused is probably reflective of most of the electorate today.

2) An X Factor moment. I dislike the X factor, but decided that today I'd make an exception, as long as it wasn't with the usual suspects.

This Ukranian X factor scene when the judges accuse the singer (Aida Nikolaychuk) of miming is a mistrust moment.

We had plenty of mistrust in the Referendum campaign. Although in Russian, it's still easy to work out what is happening. Key phrase: A cappella.

3) I wasn’t born to follow The Byrds continue this brief dance to the music of time.

Written by Carole King, it's one of those earworms that'll put a skip into the step on the way to the polling booths.

4) Something darker next. Politician. Cream. With Eric Clapton riffing the very wide triangular lapels of an orange suit.

Hey now baby, get into my big black car. I wanna just show you what my politics are.

And that brings me to the badmouthing that has gone on throughout the campaign.

5) The Life And Death Of Mr Badmouth PJ Harvey. Fill in your own politician for this one. There's plenty to choose from.

Polly peeks at an aspect of the human condition.

6) Don't look back in anger Oasis. I've used the ending from Our Friends in the North, where the song is used to good effect. Play from 6:00.

Bribery, politics, north/south divide, crime, job cuts. All in the screenplay.

7) Electioneering Radiohead. Self explanatory look at tactics.

or, if by now you are tired of it all and instead want to try the guitar part, then this is a good finger clicking alternative version.

8) Working class hero John Lennon.

It may have been written in 1970, but still fresh now.

9) To have and have not Billy Bragg - something by Billy required in any political track listing.

Qualifications, once the golden rule.

10) Trouble Town Jake Bugg - watch out for the speed bumps.

My inner DJ keeps this type of track in the listing. I know.

11) Ruled by secrecy Muse - pointing out the games behind the scenes.

A bit of a neutron star collision at the beginning, then live performance. Muse has performances and sets that really go all the way to 11. Their show biz dazzle is fine. Less so for the swervy politicians.

12) Boris come back - the rather troubling 45 second song by David Cameron and Boris Johnston.

I'd ask them why they don't answer the direct questions they get asked, but it would be self-defeating.

13) Just don't know - by three random street performers.

A busker who then jams with two passing people.

It's far more positive to end with something showing the power of togetherness, rather than, say, Four Horsemen by Clash or Eve of Destruction [D G A D +(Bm) +(A7)]


Time to put that X in a box.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Wordless Wednesday (almost) #royalacademy

P6210266.jpg - What Unites Human Beings is Huge and Wonderful
A fine show this year
Bob and Roberta Smith @ Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

the quiet

A scene of distant Union flags blocked by barriers. Maybe Regents Street is offering a metaphor for revised arrangements after a Brexit?
More likely it's just London digging up its roads again. Toward Oxford Street there's early notice that the area will be will be closed at the weekends during the summer.
Back at Downing Street, it's the quiet before everything kicks off later this week.
Yes, London is preparing for the global TV event accompanying the referendum as an improvised media village assembles opposite the Palace of Westminster.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Parliament Square

"Far more in common with each other than things that divide us."
Jo Cox - Maiden speech

Sunday, 19 June 2016

quick Tate Modern impressions, including those bricks

Once inside the Tate Modern, the first decision was where to start. Most people seemed to be heading for the tenth floor, which is really a public viewing platform. Instead, I took the other set of less crowded lifts to the fourth floor, which is the highest level of the new galleries.

I was soon inside my first room, which was a series of works by Louise Borgeoise. A whole room showcasing an artist gives time to form an opinion in a way that sometimes seeing single works juxtaposed won't provide.
My picture shows one of her spider pieces, another much larger one (Maman) was used as a central piece when the Queen opened the Tate Modern back in 2000. Bourgeois kept working as an artist until her death at the age of 98.

Her later work developed themes around pain and loss of control sometimes through works enclosed in cages - like the Cell (Eyes and Mirrors) seen behind the spider in the above image. Here's my look inside Cell XIV, courtesy of my iPhone.
And in a way the exhibit illustrates the difficulty in trying to describe the innards of the Tate. There's so much yp explore and much of it makes one think.

It could be an old and originally controversial piece like Carl Andre's 'Bricks' (properly called Equivalent VIII). I remember seeing it many years ago for the first time and then smiling this time as I entered one of the new rooms to see it arranged across the floor.
Yes, it's a rectangular composition of bricks. Andre described it as a sensation like wading in bricks and the art establishment first in the 1970s and then again in the early 2000s became embroiled in debate about whether the piece was a con or pivotal in art sculpture.
Then there's this innocent looking table from an art piece by Marina Abramovic. Part of her own living work which explored collective responsibility. Controversial in its original context, causing its first exhibition to be stopped after six hours, through viewer intervention. The instructions below give a further clue.
These happen to be a few of the first items I stumbled across, examples of modern art greatest hits.

There's oodles of other material to explore with the Tate Modern frequently juxtaposing well known works and newer artists.
One could say that there are plenty of ideas and much to reflect upon.

Saturday, 18 June 2016


Sous mes pieds le ciel revient.

Je fais semblant d'avoir tout compris.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Thursday Thirteen : Tate Modern extension (Part 1 - outside)

  1. I popped along to the new Tate Modern extension for a preview of what is on offer.
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  3. The official opening is on 17 June, but with my special pass I was one of the a long line of people taking an early look inside.
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  5. The Tate Modern is in an old electricity generation building and there's areas call The Tanks, The Boiler Room and the newest part is called the Switch House. Spot the oil storage tanks location in the picture below.
  6. The original Tate collection was started by Henry Tate, who was the inventor of the sugar cube.
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  8. Noticeably, the new brickwork of the extension reminds me of stacked sugar cubes.
    The architects may refer to the brickwork as 'knitwear' but I'm wondering whether, like Newcastle's Baltic, it will become attractive seasonal lodgings for a type of sea-bird? (kittiwake cam here)
  9. I used to pass the building during its construction. It was a much whiter looking colour before the external brickwork was added to the concrete skeleton.
    Now it's like one of those posh coats with a contrasting lining.
  10. It seems hard to believe that the Tate Modern only opened in 2000.
  11. It now receives some 5 million visitors a year and is now well-established as a key London tourist venue.
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  13. I know I'm not talking about the artwork in this post. There's some great well-known (and controversial) pieces on display, but they warrant separate descriptions.
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  15. Despite the long queue of people waiting to enter the building, the interior was surprisingly uncrowded. I'm told there is around 60% more exhibit space now.
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  17. There's various links to the pre-existing part of the building, although I think they had special restrictions until the whole building is formally re-opened.
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  19. The Bankside area has been completely transformed over the last few years. New buildings, an urban park, pedestrian areas, a superb walk along the Thames. It should be on everyones' list of places to visit when in town.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

fire at the circus maximus

Last few days of the campaign and, sure enough, more scare stories are popping. I suppose they'll save some for the weekend, although the effect so far is driving the various dials south.

Let's take a look - there's the value of GBP (down).

The stock market (down).

Shares in Britain's biggest industry - finance services (down).

We can see a consistent downward trend. Supposedly the markets are pricing in the uncertainties. Now we're hearing about emergency budgets and new taxation as well. I illustrate the post with Alphonse Mucha's Nero watching Rome burning.

Maybe Osborne is a modern version of Nero? Certainly Osborne and toast in the same sentence seems likely in the near future.

Of course, by talking about the economy here, I'm playing into the hands of the Remain camp, who are steadfastly avoiding talk about migration, which is the main plank of the Leave camp argument. Cameron is superb at giving his speeches to non-press questioners and swerving out of shot when he gets buttonholed. To balance it up, here's the ONS stats for migration.

Total UK migration is about 50:50 between EU and Rest of World.

The Rest of World has China top incoming, then India and then USA.

And there's a couple of countries that particularly skew the EU incoming (the so called EU2, comprising Bulgaria and Romania, who account for 27%).

There's more about all of this here, in the ONS May 2016 report.

And this morning, I could look up and see a couple of helicopters hovering over Parliament. I'm guessing it was linked to the two mini flotillas splashing around outside the Palace of Westminster, so that the two groups could shout through megaphones at one another.

I'm not making a point about In or Out here, it's more that our government is probably supposed to promote stability but seems to be doing everything possible to inject uncertainty.

For Osborne and Cameron, the very fact of a referendum make a brilliant political excuse for all manner of things that don't get done.

Weirdly, without an election to follow the Referendum, we're in a very strange situation.

If we Remain, we've the scare stories of Ozza and Cazza to deal with, but if we Leave we swing further right with Bozza, Nige and Mikka tugging the island further from the thamentopoein-carrying death moths of Europe.

Crazy in the coconut.

Wordless Wednesday

P6030154.jpg - walking to Capel Mounth
Walking to Capel Mounth

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

TfL prepares for emojification

TfL have just announced the change to the London Underground typeface font, so that they can include hashtags and @, moving from Edward Johnston's 100 year old typeface to a new and very similar digital typeface Johnston100 designed by Monotype.

Truth be told, there was an intermediate version back in the 1970s, when the old overlapping W was replaced as part of a move to typesetting.

Johnston didn't see the need to design certain characters like @ and #, although if he had, we'd probably have stylised ones, like his groovy £ (now de-flourished), quote marks and the care with the differential spacing of the filled loops on B, P and R, which all also help legibility. Then there's the caret topped i and j and the ornate and serifed lower case g.

Sure enough, they've tweaked the g and also removed the flourish from the £ symbol. Those dots on the i and j get morphed to 11, the full-stop is invited to become precariously balanced and the new @ symbol looks as if it comes from a different univers*.

Even the Apple mac keyboard had to kind-of cram the hashtag in, next to the GBP £ symbol as an alt-character on the number 3. Such multiple key pressing for a character isn't new, and even in the days of low speed digital communications, there were various notional shorthands to speed up the messaging.

So no great surprise that Apple have just said that iPhones can convert real words back into digital-world emojis, and that the new emojis can be displayed three times the size of the old ones. Squeee.

The TfL and the emoji moves are maybe further signs of the digital future and I suppose resultant emoji translations become internationally understandable?

In case you're not fully up to speed, for some revision, here's Zoe Mendelson's rendering of the Breaking Bad finale in emoji, below.

It would be fun to convert a few TfL station names to emojis, but that will have to wait.

* = bad typeface joke