they paved paradise

Years ago, I worked for around six months in the centre of Birmingham, somewhere in the shadow of the old Nat West Tower and directly opposite the – then brand new – Copthorne Hotel.

Returning to the area a few years ago, I couldn’t find any way to reconcile my memories with the reality: – the development and construction work in the city centre has been tremendous and the landscape has changed both along the skyline and at ground level.
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blind hope

There are lots of old buildings around here, and many newer ones that pretend to be old or use details from older buildings.

Many of the architectural features are bricked up and I wonder what is behind them.

I think the correct word for the bricked in windows and arches is “blind” – though I’m not sure if that is only for ones that were never intended to be open.
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less than clear

It isn’t just my aged mother who is confused by Windows. I’ve been looking at the other kind and wondering what they are for.

They aren’t usually there to be looked at. But are they there to look out of? Or to look in at?

Presumably it depends on where you are: if you’re outside, you look in, and if you’re inside, you look out.
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the dark side

I’ve mentioned before that, although I don’t mind dealing with negative subjects, most of my poems and other writings are optimistic in tone.

So, as I noticed that I’ve recently gathered a number of photos taken in the dark, I thought I’d pop back to the dark ages today:

Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon, by night Continue reading “the dark side”

poetry & plasterwork

Yesterday, I went to a breakfast meeting at Stoneleigh Abbey.

Stoneleigh Abbey
We ate in the saloon, whose ceiling features this magnificent plaster relief depicting Hercules being welcomed by the gods after his death:
Stoneleigh Abbey Blue Saloon
I visited the Abbey a couple of years ago and went on a tour of the house; sadly, the photos I took then are currently on a computer that won’t boot, so I only have a couple of pictures I took on my phone as discreetly as possible during the meeting.
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Seen through old sash windows, a crinkle of brickwork
and ripple of wrought iron remind me that glass is liquid:
cool and viscous, it creeps earthwards through the centuries.

This thought occurred to me when looking out at the buildings in the picture. Then, of course, I felt obliged to go and research whether glass really is liquid or whether that’s just an old wives’ tale. The idea is discussed at some length and technicality in this paper.

I think the conclusion is that, although glass can be considered a super-cooled liquid, the variations in thickness of old glass are nothing to do with the pull of gravity. Still, I was trying to write poetry not science, so I’m leaving it as it is and will blame any inaccuracy on my fallible narrator.

*oops: I really did spell it that way and publish it without checking. I’ll blame the fallible writer for that; and the fact that it’d be distorsión in Spanish.

tower power

Torre Espacio

Yesterday, I had coffee with a friend who works in the Torre Espacio. I hadn’t been to Madrid’s “Four Towers” business park before and it was quite impressive.

Oddly, though, I found it more dizzying to look up at the tower than to look down from the 41st floor. (The Tower has 57 floors above ground, but your pass gives access only to “need-to-know” areas.)

No photos from inside as I’m limited to a phone camera at the moment, and phones had to be checked in at the security desk.

And, yes, the sky really was that blue and cloudless.