Rubber emporium

I got this lovely book, Shutting Up Shop: The Decline of the Traditional Small Shop by photographer John Londei. Taken over 15 years it documents all kinds of wonderful emporia - corner shops and general stores, milliners, drapers and lots of peculiar little specialist places like cork stores and this condom shop in Stoke. The shops are beautiful in so many ways and what's even better is the proprietors. Seeing them together gives a glimpse of a disappearing world. At the back there is an update on what happened to them all. Sadly, few survive which makes the photos all the more precious. The Still Open pool on Flickr documents those still going strong.

Space House

I'm pleased to have contributed some photos of Centre Point and Space House to a feature on Colonel Richard Seifert at Archinect. They approached me directly to use the photos not mentioning that Owen Hatherley who writes one of my very favourite blogs - Sit Down Man, You're a Bloody Tragedy wrote the piece. There's a six degrees of separation thing going on here. Also, while the photos might look planned and well executed I had no idea that "Space House" was a Richard Seifert building. I wandered past it after interesting2007 and thought "Ooh, that looks a bit like Centre Point", took some photos, Bob's your uncle. I imagine all great architectural photographers work this way.

Lift up your hearts


I'm looking forward to The Secret Life of the Motorway, which starts on BBC Four on Tuesday. I've been reading up on the British road system for a while but have been too ashamed to admit it for fear of reaching a new level of geekdom. It was for research on my favourite road, the B7076/7078 for Nothing To See Here. It used to be the main route from Glasgow down to the border and now it's a strange ghost road - a B-class dual carriageway. Driving along it evokes an era of big open roads and fewer cars. A step back in time.

Out and about it's easy to spot relics of the short period when motorways were the glamour boys of transportation. The famous Pennine Tower at Forton Services emulates air travel, not road travel. In 1965, the M6 was that exotic. The best seats in the restaurant give you a great view of the motorway, whereas services today are designed to shield you from the road and make you think you're in the country. Forton is a relic of a time when motorways were really exciting and new, an emotion also captured in numerous "boring" postcards of the period like the one from LA above.

Roads are another brilliant everyday thing that everyone seems to take for granted. How I love them. For me hearing the traffic news about the Hanger Lane Gyratory System or the A939 from Cockbridge to Tomintoul holds more romance than the shipping forecast.

Fellow enthusiasts may enjoy:

It's one of those weeks where nothing is working. There seem to be more and more weeks like that. All the electrical appliances in the house are staging a mutiny, particularly the computers so I'm giving this up until it's sorted out.

I've got lots of email to reply to. Sorry. I'll get round to it when things are back to normal.

'I used to say some people make money and some make history - which is very funny until you find you can't afford to keep yourself alive' - Anthony H. Wilson.

I only heard this quote recently and thought it was very clever and very true (although I didn't realise how true it was for him) - the sort of thing you could expect from Tony Wilson, who died yesterday aged 57. I read 24 Hour Party People recently, which is brilliant. Amazing and exciting. Makes you realise what a special thing he did. There's real inspiration in his bloody-minded determination to do something you believe in and to fight conventional wisdom with common sense and a bit of spark. Before that I read Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham who was doing something similar in the 60s. They both show how difficult it was (and probably still is) to change the way an industry works. It's easy to sit in a stultifying office job and think it must be really exciting to work in the entertainment industry, how it would all be different there, but these stories make it clear it's just the same. Constantly battling against bosses and bureaucracy and entrenched ways of working that no longer deliver what people want. So, there's a lot of inspiration in seeing how people create something great. They might make mistakes in the process, but they follow their noses and get somewhere in the end. What they both demonstrate is how you can do something amazing by not worrying about perfecting a finished product or making a fortune but actually doing something and getting it out there then seeing what happens next. Taking chances and making mistakes. It's staggering how difficult it is to do that. So, respect due.

Lee Hazlewood

RIP Lee Hazlewood 1929-2007. Probably my favourite singer of all time and one of the few people who could get away with a moustache like that. There are tributes all over the internet so there's no need to say more. Suffice to say it's a sad day, even though it's been on the cards for a while. These are for everyone who was a fan - two of my favourites from Love and Other Crimes:

The George Hotel., Buchanan St, Glasgow

This is quite a find - a beautiful Flickr set of The George Hotel in Glasgow's Buchanan Street. It was a ropey looking place, in one of those big sooty sandstone blocks that stood out like a sore thumb as the rest of Glasgow's buildings were sandblasted into cleanliness. I walked past it most days and wondered what it was like inside, before it was gutted to become the Virgin Megastore. It's great to see how it looked, and lovely to know it has been captured somewhere. Claim to fame: this bedroom was where the end of Trainspotting was filmed. Check out more decayed and decaying places from Michael Prince and the Disappearing Scotland pool.

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