The Beat(les) Generation is Slipping Away

Sad to read in The Guardian that Astrid Kirchherr1 has died. She was 81. That’s not a bad age, and it’s not like I had followed her career. I just knew her as a photographer who had worked with The Beatles, and been Stuart Sutcliffe’s partner till he died.

But from my early reading of Beatles books – like The Beatles: An Illustrated Record – onward, I was aware of her as part of their story, their mythology.

More than that, though, as the article above, as well as her obituary, will tell you: she was the one who gave them their early look. She made them the “lovable moptops.” They’d have been successful without the haircuts, of course, but there’s no denying the importance of that early image.

I think I’m saddened more because of what her death represents. I was born the year The Beatles took America. They had long split up by the time I developed any musical awareness.2 But they were the first band I really got interested in, when my sister gave me a tape. They were my favourites until punk came along, and I love them still.

But that whole generation is ageing – well, who isn’t, of course – and will soon be gone. And mine not too far behind it. So what it all comes down to is that Astrid’s death reminds me of my own mortality, and there’s no excuse for that!

Brilliant photos, though.


  1. I note that I always thought her name was Kirchnerr. But there’s no “n” to be found. ↩︎

  2. Though I did shock my grandma when I was very small, by singing “Obla-di, Obla-da.” She thought I was “swearing”. And it might have been The Marmalade’s version that I’d heard at that time. ↩︎


Hi-Five.

Hi Five


Christmas Day by the Lea (or Lee)

It’s our family custom on Christmas Day to go for a walk down by the River Lea (usually shown on maps with the addition “or Lee”, as both spellings have been used historically). Often it’s been cold and dreich and we’ve seen almost no-one. Two days ago it was a gorgeous sunny day, and there were hundreds of people out.

And some boats were moving:

Boat on the Lea 1 Christmas 2019

While others were just parked:

Boat on the Lea 2 Christmas 2019

And this is us; Frances, me, and our two young adults, who don’t normally like to be photographed, and who have never appeared here before:

Family Christmas 2019


Parrots! In Hackney!

There were four parrots in the tree across the road. You can see three of them here. Not great photo quality, unfortunately.

My daughter tells me there was a story about them escaping from the zoo recently. I couldn’t find that, but here’s a story with much better pictures about London’s feral parrots.


Selfie Thoughts

Tim Bray speaks wisely on selfies:

Somewhere right now there’s a young woman who’ll lead her nation to war, or write a book that wrenches a generation’s heart, or help make technology that touches a billion lives. Unlike previous generations of such women, her biography’s early chapters will be improved by selfies.

Source: “Photographer”?


He's really a guitar player but he uses a camera

"He's really a guitar player but he uses a camera": Interview at The Quietus with Lou Reed and Mick Rock, the photographer who took, among many other things, the Transformer cover shot.


Hackney Sunset

Sunset in Clapton, February 2013

This is the sky at sunset in Hackney just the other day. Kind of remarkable, don’t you think? Click on the the picture for a bigger version on Flickr.


Instagram and Terms

I never really got Instagram. I mean, I got the app, I signed up, and I posted a few photos. But I never totally got what it was for. I mean, social photos? OK, I followed a few people I knew on Twitter, but it never really amounted to much. And you couldn't even see your pictures on the web at first. The filters were interesting, but only up to a point, and they got worse.

But somehow I could never totally see the point. Flickr I understood: it’s a site to store your photos. If you don’t have, or don’t want the bother of managing, your own web space, you can put your pictures there and show them to other people. And it’s got the social thing going on, too, with the ability to follow people and all that. It feels a bit bolted on, but it does no harm. And when I discover a site like 500px, as I did a few weeks ago, well, that’s obvious: a place to store your pictures and to find other people’s. Not for nothing is their tag line, “The best photos on the web” (or it was: today it says, “The world’s best photo sharing”, which is similar, but different). I just wish they’d learn how to keep me signed in.

But Instagram didn’t really grab me. And today they nearly ejected me.

Oddly for a net-based thing, I heard about the new terms of service on the radio. The story was that the terms were going to allow them to sell their users' pictures for advertising, without paying, asking, or even telling the users.

I tweeted:

It turns out to be not as bad as we thought, at least according to this post from Instagram. Though I only found that because I clicked the "I'd like to delete my account" link. On the confirmation page there was a link to that post. It turns out there's an Instagram blog, and both the terms of service change and this update were posted there. But who knew about that?

So for now I haven’t deleted my account, and we’ll see how it goes.

I found out about the change from the radio, and the correction by requesting a deletion; my inbox remains unsullied. How about a wee email, Instagram? You’ve got my address.

Edited to add: According to this post, the new terms are actually better than the old ones.


Eee! PC.

My new Eee PC relaxes on the bed:

New toy relaxes

A photo of one of my recent technological acquisitions, as taken by the other. It’s hard to take a photo of a new camera, unless you have another. And since this Canon Powershot G9 is the first digital camera I’ve had…

Both of them are fabulous. The Eee is finally an almost perfect replacement for the Psion 5 as mobile writing platform (much more powerful, but not as pocketable). And I’m taking the camera everywhere and filling up hard drives with the results. So expect to see more pictures appearing here.