Friday, 23 October 2015
Another week mainly spent in Bristol, but as I have now bought myself a proper Windows laptop I have been less out of touch with the world than before, though I'm not yet ready to do full-on image editing on it. Talking of Windows, it's interesting to see how many of you are Mac users, if Google Analytics can be trusted, which probably speaks volumes about the elegance and sophistication of my readers. But for those who have stuck with Big Bill, I recommend the upgrade from the egregious Windows 8 to Windows 10 -- it's fairly painless (just a few drivers to download, in my case) and well worth it, if only to get the Start menu back. For once" free" doesn't mean "rubbish", and I presume what it really means is "sorry about that"... Needless, to say, I still use the "desktop" mode, and don't think I'll ever go for the Windows "apps" approach.
It's been a poor week for photography, though, starting out with filthy, dull air trapped near the ground by a "decaying high pressure system", then becoming wet and windy as low pressure moved in from the Atlantic, a classic meteorological sequence in these parts. Have I ever mentioned I studied geography at A-level? Back in those days, English, German and Geography was the sort of "irrational" combination that, the conventional wisdom claimed, would damage one's chances of university entrance, though not as much as the German, Art and Geography combo I had originally proposed. It was an acceptable compromise on both sides, and I did love geography with its boots-on-the ground, pragmatic attitude to the world. We regularly used to play a classroom game called Hunt The Climate, which involved pinpointing a location on the planet based solely on its meteorological data -- not as hard as it sounds, once you've grasped the basic principles of climate patterns. Although it's probably a much harder game to play in these days of dramatic and unpredictable climate change.
Nevertheless, I had some productive outings, including a lengthy stroll around the waterfront area, which is where the Arnolfini Gallery and Watershed arts centre are, and which used to be one of our main haunts when we first lived in Bristol back in the late 1970s. I'd forgotten how much like Amsterdam these parts of Bristol are, with narrow cobbled streets running alongside canalized waterways, in the shadow of tall warehouse buildings. Viv Stanshall -- every English eccentric ever rolled into one -- used to live on a boat moored in the docks then. I don't know who lives in the houseboat in the foreground of the picture above, but that is one fancy paint-job!
But, my, how things have changed... Like so many post-industrial cities, Bristol has invested much time, money and effort in recent decades into transforming its legacy of picturesque and capacious dockside buildings into arts, entertainment and educational facilities. As a result, there are many upmarket bars, restaurants and clubs packed into what was once a moderately squalid area of mainly derelict and abandoned industrial buildings. Although it seems these new businesses and activities have brought their own squalor, in the form of casually-dumped consumer rubbish, much of it gathering in mini-versions of the Great Pacific Rubbish Vortex. People can be hard to love, can't they? I mean, sure, the trees have made a hell of mess, chucking their leaves carelessly all over the place, but they'll sink and rot in time. But those bottles, cans and takeaway boxes will be bobbing around until some poor devil is assigned the job of fishing them all out.