Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm pretty sure I've posted about this before in a way but I had a quick scan through the archives and can't find anything* relating to it. Ho hum. Anyway I've been thinking about brutalist architecture a lot today, partly because the desktop picture preferences on my Mac at work are currently set to shift at 30min intervals through a folder of images called "structure" which is a grab bag of architectural photos, some my own, some which just moved me. Amongst them are some of this gentleman's excellent photographs of the (then doomed, now gone) Tricorn Centre.

I remember being deeply saddened at the time by its demolition and by the reported jubilation at the centre's destruction. It was a unique and (in my opinion) beautiful example of an architectural style now long gone, but which embodied an (also long gone) optimistic view of the future and of ourselves... Celebrating the erasure of that seemed wrong somehow.

Demolition went ahead in spite of some protest, and the Tricorn now exists only in memory (sometimes electronic). The good burghers of Portsmouth reportedly rejoiced, and (since I have no desire to live in Portsmouth, Tricorn or no) many would say I have no right to censure them for that... the same could I suppose be said were the residents of Rome to decide to demolish the Forum, or the Parisians to tire of Eiffel's tower... to my mind the only significant difference is historical perspective. Incidentally Portsmouth was (as far as I can tell) rewarded with this in place of their detested "concrete carbuncle". I hope it pleases them, but I can't imagine it ever making anyone's soul soar in quite the way its sculptural predecessor irrefutably could.

Anyway, Garfield's photographs (at least the versions stored in my collection) are of a resolution which pixelates somewhat when displayed full screen on the state-of-the-art MacBook Pro I'm privileged to use all day, and being of a graphical bent this bothers me. So in a (rare) free moment I stopped to look for some other higher resolution photographs of the Tricorn to replace them**. In doing so I found myself reading a lot of articles about the impending demolition of another of Luder's grand works, the Trinity Centre in Gateshead, aka the Get Carter Car Park.

I'm not really sure why I'm so moved by the destruction of these gargantuan concrete sculptures, but I am. The same short sighted, small minded rhetoric keeps being spouted to justify removing these (intentionally) run down buildings from these (intentionally?) run down communities which they were designed to reinvigorate. It genuinely makes my heart ache... but I can't in all honesty pretend to care a great deal about either Gateshead or Portsmouth. I think what gets me is the loss to the world at large, and the rejection of that optimistic vision... sure it was flawed, neither the Tricorn nor the Trinity ever really worked as originally envisaged, but both are/were beautiful and inspiring spaces with real potential.

Moves are afoot to limit this kind wanton destruction of our unfashionable architectural past. They're primarily motivated by a recognition that knocking down and starting again, makes sense only by our existing unsustainable economic model's standards. Re-use is a far more environmentally responsible approach to buildings which fail to meet their initial remit (for whatever reason) and/or fall out of vogue. I hope that out of this necessity a happy side effect might be that the future suffers fewer of these cultural losses at the hands of fashion. I'm a naive optimist you see... which might be (in part) why these structures speak to me in the first place.

*incidentally the archives are getting somewhat unwieldy now that there are almost 5 years' worth, so next time I have time I'm going to look into revising the page to deal with them better... if anyone has a good suggestion for a neater archive solution feel free to email me on the usual address or comment

**I succeeded thanks to flickr. Anyone who's interested should look here as there are some genuinely stunning shots

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

never had to knock on wood...

... that's a lie. It's also a lyric from a cracking song which I'm listening to just now. ... actually now I come to look the lyrics up I notice that reading it (if you don't know the Bosstones) the song sounds a bit grim. It isn't when you're listening to it.


All is well in my world except that I don't seem to have enough time to be in all the places with all the people that I want to... If only I didn't have to spend quite so much of my time working. Mind you I'm really enjoying that at the moment. Mostly. The getting up in the morning part is still not something that comes naturally. I suspect at this stage I'd better resign myself to never being a morning person.

I'm really missing having a dog of late. I can't have one of course but I miss Jet a lot and would welcome another little brush-brained fuzzball of a companion. Maybe one day.

Spring seems to be... springinging. The garden is a joyous cacophony of colour every morning as I leave for work and has (so far) not failed once to raise a smile in those all important first few moments of really being outside and inescapably in my working day (instead of my bed). That little boost makes for a good start to the day, even when I then have to stay at my desk until 7pm (which doesn't always happen, but happens more often than I'd like considering I don't get paid for overtime... we could really do with an extra body in the office). Better yet it's no longer always night time when I get home - daylight has returned to my out of office hours!

Oh yes, and I have plans! I have plans to buy myself a big present this year and if I've already bored you rigid with it then you'll be tuning out about now (sorry) but if I've not then this might convey a tiny smidge of the glee I feel thinking about my plans. I'm saving up, (sensible-ish grown up you see) but come summer hopefully I'll be a car owner again. Environment and practicality be damned (they both were anyway after all)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I'm in the paper look:

scrap of paper

The Drum do a "new appointments" bit* where they ask you questions and do a page of the answers, I'd forgotten I'd done it until one of our suppliers emailed me a scan of the page...

Questions were: 1: What attracted you to the post? 2: What company did you previously work for? 3: What was your first industry job? 4: How did you find your current post? 5: What's the most annoying noise in the world? 6: What's the best way to get what you want? 7: If you were famous, what would it be for?

I think my answers should still be legible in the picture above for anyone who's interested. Questions 1-4 are kinda dull but I liked 5, 6 & 7, and it makes me laugh to see me in print so I thought I'd share.

* yeah, I know, I've been there almost a year now so hardly count as a new appointment. However our marketeers only just cottoned on to this and we figured it was worth doing even though I'm actually old news

Monday, March 10, 2008


I had a great holiday this weekend, hot on the heels of two days's training I went to Dublin with Justin, Liz and Marja, we explored the city together, saw some cool stuff and spent a fair amount of time just goofing around together too which was good. Liz had found us a great little hotel which also helped make the holiday.

I arrived early coming straight from work in Leeds and beating the other three there by around four hours, settling into the hotel solo was surprisingly easy, it helped that I not only arrived in time to get dinner (just!) but that the hotel's excellent little glass-house bar was playing host to these guys who kept me tapping my feet while I waited for and ate my hotel dinner. Excellent blues guitar work.

Just, Liz and Marja made it to the hotel just after midnight, we caught up and made plans for the weekend and then retired to our beds ready for a big day exploring. Morning came with clear skies and an excellent breakfast on Friday and Saturday, both days spent exploring the city and laughing a lot. Sunday morning rolled around all too quickly though (with attendant bad weather) and it was time to come home.

I'm reminded how good it is both to travel, and to travel with my friends, they're a great and varied bunch and I never cease to be amazed how great sharing the rich and varied world we live in feels.

Today (also on holiday) I spent catching up on the more mundane aspects of life, haircuts and replacement shoelaces... Tomorrow will be back to work and I fully expect it will be Friday again before I blink: there's plenty happening in my world just now. All of it reminds me how good it is to be alive though and I'm pleased (for various reasons) to find myself smiling, a lot, at how lucky I am to have the time I have.

Monday, March 03, 2008


My Dad pointed this out to me in an email a wee while back and I've only just had chance to follow the link. I am intrigued. I'm not quite sure what to make of the site yet but also certain I'll be exploring it further. So far what I like most about it is that it describes itself as "like Flikr without the photos"

Saturday, March 01, 2008

this != that

A new friendship got cemented today. Sometimes there's an identifiable point when someone goes from being a new friend (compelling, engaging, pleasant company, but ultimately an unknown quantity) to someone you know that you really admire and respect. That's not always how it works of course - people all being different and everything, but there often has been that moment for me with people and today was one of those days.

I'd been hoping that maybe there might be more going on here than a new friendship in the making: You see this guy's smart, funny, talented and very sexy* and we'd both been playing with the idea that maybe there was some mileage in our being more than just mates. There have been plenty of moments when I could imagine just that, but things have never really bubbled up past the 'nervously optimistic' mark, and today he gently but directly addressed that. The chemistry isn't quite right.

It's good to acknowledge when 'this thing' is not 'that thing'. It's not easy, because there are feelings involved and nobody likes being the one to pop the bubble, but it was nonetheless a brave and kind step. With the bubble popped, excited but awkward anticipation gives way to an ease and comfort. I'm disappointed that things aren't working out that way but I'm also very glad to know this person and that's the part that will last.

*a list which describes most of my friends now I come to think of it