Stop the Killing

July 13th, 2018

I spend a lot of time at events wondering what I should photograph. Of course there are people and situations that are visually attractive and it would generally not be sensible to miss these opportunities, but that isn’t enough. It can often even be quite misleading and unrepresentative of the event, though it’s often such images that get published, and what I think many photographers aim for to sell to newspapers.

Another type of image that seems often to get published are group photos, with large numbers of people holding a banner, taken frontally in the manner of team photographs – I often joke about putting someone in the middle holding the ball, though few find them funny. I suppose for small events these at least let you see how many were taking part, and local newspapers used to feel that showing more faces boosted sales, but when there is often a large group of photographers crowding to get around the centre spot I usually avoid it.

My motivation for photographing events is to tell the story. And for me that very seldom can be done in a single image but requires a series of images. Placards and banners are often very important in this, as to are gestures and expressions. At this protest, I tried to show something of the anger that people felt at the cold-blooded shooting of Palestinian protesters by Israeli snipers.

Things that are worth photographing aren’t always particularly photogenic, and it is often something of a challenge to make pictures that are visually attractive, clear and precise. I took a great many pictures, probably over a thousand, though at times there were very many of the same subject as I tried hard to ensure I had something close to what I wanted.

Photographing an event like this involves a huge number of decisions about where to be when and what to photograph – and on more technical matters such as focus, focal length and framing. I try to concentrate on these and take advantage of the automatic features of the camera to deal with as much as it can; though usually I like to chose where the focus is, I’m happy to let the camera actually auto-focus there, and to let auto-exposure get the exposure more or less correct.

This was a large protest, with several thousand packing mainly in to a fairly small space, making movement through the crowd a little difficult. There was a small press area in front of the stage, but I chose not to use it for photographing the speakers as it was too close to them looking up from below. But the crowd perhaps meant I stood in that one place rather longer than I would have liked.

I wondered briefly whether or not to photograph the counter-protest by half a dozen Zionists a few yards away, and decided to do so – and you can see a few at the link below. There were many, many more Jews in the protest ashamed of the actions of the Israeli snipers following their orders to kill and maim unarmed protesters at a distance, shooting many in the back as they ran away, using bullets designed to expand and inflict maximum damage to those they did not kill.

And as usual at such protests there were the anti-Zionist Jews with their message “Judaism Demands FREEDOM for GAZA and ALL PALESTINE & forbids any Jewish State” .

Here I’ve only posted a small and fairly random selection of the images that I took – and written very little about the actual protest. You can read more and see an unusually large number – around a hundred – of the pictures I made (edited down from perhaps a thousand) on My London Diary at Great March of Return – Stop the Killing

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Pennies for the guy…

July 12th, 2018

Pennies for the guy who took the picture is the offer to photographers from  National Geographic Fine Art Galleries (NGFA) revealed in the article  Is National Geographic Fine Art a Ripoff for Photographers?  published on PetaPixel. In it Ken Bower writes of how his initial reaction to having one of his landscape images selected to be sold by the NGFA turned sour when he found out more about how the NGFA sales programme works.

The NGFA explained it to him, and you can read their explanation in the Petapixel post. If NGFA sell the print for $1800, 10% of that amount goes to the National Geographic Creative agency – so in this case a miserly $180. That agency then gives half of their cut to the photographer, who ends up with $90 – just 5% of the price the buyer has paid.

Simple maths shows us that the NGFA itself takes 90% of the purchase price – in this case $1620. That’s 18 times as much as the photographer. And although NGFA increases the price of the prints as the edition – of 200 prints – sells, that ratio remains the same. If they sell the whole edition of 200, those pennies for the photographer would however add up to a substantial amount – if nothing like as substantial as that made by the NGFA.

Now I appreciate galleries have costs. In this case they are making the prints, running a web site, conducting the sales etc. I’ve sold a few prints through galleries, and their commissions have ranged from 20% to 35%, and a 50:50 split is not unusual. Some I’m told even take a little more – but even the worst deals I’ve heard of leave the photographer with 40%, eight times what NGFA are offering.

As Bower points out, the NGFA seems to be “targeting photographers who have placed well in Nat Geo photo competitions or who are popular on the Your Shot community” for their sales, rather than the extremely professional and talented professionals whose work is published by National Geographic – who would have a much better idea of the worth of their images.

I’m not a great fan of commercial photo galleries, as regular readers will have noticed. With few exceptions I don’t feel they have the best interests of photographers or photography at the base of their activities. I still think and have often argued that the concept of limited editions is inimical to our medium and am unhappy at the fetishisation of the photographic print and in particular of the ‘original print’ that they foster. Overall I think they are parasitical on photographers and photography, though there are a few I respect for how they have genuinely contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the medium’s history.

But while buying prints from a commercial gallery, or better, from a photographer may at least sometimes be a sound investment as well as a pleasure to be enjoyed, it seems to me that the NGFA is essentially selling high price decor. I’m not dismissing Bower and those who have signed up with them as photographers – his is certainly a decent landscape image – but those with cash to spare will buy it or images like it because it goes with their colour scheme – and the next time they have new interior decorators in, that picture will go out with the trash – or if they try to sell it they will almost certainly find its resale value is far less than they paid, possibly little if any more than the worth of the frame.

As Bower hints, essentially what is being sold are high-price posters. Not printed by the photographer, the printing not overseen by the photographer, decisions about paper etc. not made by the photographer. An edition of 200 might almost as well be labelled unlimited, and the prints are not signed by the photograph but machine-signed with a ‘digital signature’.

There is a poll at the bottom of the Petapixel page asking for readers to rate the deal. When I looked at it, to my astonishment there were 15 people out of a little over a thousand who thought NGFA were offering a great or good deal. It made me wonder if they worked for the company, though on any poll you can get a few random drunken clicks. At the other end of the scale almost 96% thought it a bad or horrible deal. I think you can guess how I voted.

CND At 60

July 11th, 2018

Sixty years ago I wasn’t really into politics, only just a teenager, and didn’t then share the views of my two elder and wiser brothers. I think I still saw war as rather like the school playground, where you had to stick up for yourself and fight (even if not very effectively.)  Jim was 13 years older than me, Alan just 4 years my elder and I think both spent that Easter weekend marching to Aldermaston, though I can’t recognise either of them in the film clips and photos of the event.  Three years later I remember them coming home after a protest organised by the Committee of 100, when thousands sat down in Whitehall; Jim had gone limp and been lifted off the street by police, and his spectacles were broken, but on that occasion there were no arrests.

Later I did join CND, and went to a number of their protests and marches in London, though I’ve never walked the full distance to or from Aldermaston. Back in 2004 I went to the rally in Trafalgar Square on Friday, but left the marchers in Kensington, joining them again for a few hours on the Sunday as they made their way from Maidenhead towards Reading before walking back to pick up my bike and cycle home. And then on Easter Monday an early morning train took me and Linda back to Reading in time to join the final day’s march to Aldermaston.

It was a privilege to be able to walk part of the way and talk with Pat Arrowsmith, and there were many old and some new friends on the march. Because I was going to have to walk at least 12 miles (and actually rather more) I didn’t take my normal camera bag, but just a small digital camera, the Canon Digital Ixus 400. It wasn’t a bad camera, but the pictures are not quite to my usual standard and only about 3.8Mp. Seeing the difference between this and the Nikons made me upgrade a couple of years later to a Fuji FinePix F31 6Mp camera.

I’ve been to Aldermaston a few times since then, but for the protests I’ve usually put my bike on the train to Reading and cycled the 12 miles from there.  Sometimes even lazier, just from Mortimer station and once from Aldermaston station, a mistake as the Atomic Weapons Establishment (Bomb Factory) is up a rather large hill.   There is a similar climb, Hermit’s Hill on the Reading Road at Burghfield, but after struggling up that a few times I now take a slight detour along Clayhill Rd, also as its name implies a hill, but less daunting and with less traffic. Coming back to Reading Hermit’s Hill is exhilarating, though highly dangerous given the potholed state of our roads , and I was lucky to survive on this occasion. Slow-moving cars did mean I had to brake a little, a waste of energy which always disappoints me.

Not only was it the 60th anniversary of CND, but there was also something else to celebrate – the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, finalised last year and signed by 122 nations, for which ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which CND is a part was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Of course the UK is not one of those 122 nations, although long ago British governments argued that although they were against unilateral nuclear disarmament, they favoured multilateral nuclear disarmament and would be ready to sign a treat if other nations did. It never was a serious promise – there are too many vested interests in warfare and military expenditure.

There was a great deal of grey hair on show, and a number of people who had marched in 1958, including Walter Wolfgang who spoke at the event. Veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent recalled how he had cursed it as a young cleric in Kensington as it blocked the road for several hours and disrupted the schedule of four weddings he was conducting, though it was soon after that he was converted to the cause.

More about the event and more pictures on My London Diary at CND at 60 at Aldermaston.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Bring Anna Home

July 10th, 2018

Though the Kurdish Defence Forces have proved remarkably effective in defeating Daesh (Islamic State) they are still relatively small and poorly equipped, and Turkey has a large army and air force, equipped with modern armaments, much of it sold them by the UK arms companies. Turkey is still seen by our government as a vital part of NATO, the southern part of its defence against Russia.

In reality the situation has now rather changed, with Turkey and Russia finding some common interests and both feeling aggreived against the major Western powers. Before the invasion of Afrin, top-ranking Turkish generals went to Russia and made sure that the Russians saw the importance of capturing Afrin in helping Assad to retain control of Syria.

Turkey had also been a major financial supporter of the Islamic State, probably seeing them as an ally in their fight against the Kurds, but also profiting from the part they paid in smuggling out the oil whose revenues largely funded IS. Though it is unclear whether these profits went to the Turkish state or more directly to Erdogan and his family and friends. Through its contacts Turkey was able to mobilise large numbers of the defeated Islamists to join them in attacking the forces that had previously defeated them.

Once the US had abandoned the Kurds in Afrin, depriving them of air support or new weaponry, the eventual outcome of the fight for Afrin seemed inevitable – and eventually the Kurdish forces conceded this, making a rapid withdrawal not long after this protest. Though Turkey may find it rather harder to keep control of the area than to capture it, and its long-term future is still in doubt.

As well as Kurds, the protest was also supported by some left groups, many of whom with the Kurds see Afrin and Rojava of which it was a detached smaller part as showing a new vision for the future, a revolution for women and democratic autonomy and important in the fight against Islamist fascism. It is this that inspires men and women – like Anna Campbell – to go and fight with the YPG and the YPL in much the same way as in the 1930s many went to fight against Franco in Spain. The protest called for a cease-fire and for her body to be returned to her family in Sussex.

One marcher in particular seemed to me to embody the fighting spirit of the Kurds as she pushed her walking frame in front of her with a photograph of a child victim of war. I made a whole series of pictures of her before I had to leave the march and you can see several more of them, along with other pictures on My London Diary.

Defend Afrin – Bring Anna Home

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Land Day

July 6th, 2018

Land Day remembers the 1976 protests by Palestinians against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state, and this year saw the start of a whole series of protests, the ‘Great March of Return‘ which was to continue until Nakba Day, the anniversary of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages in 1948, on May 15th.

What shocked the world this year was not the protest by Palestinians, but the Israeli response, with snipers under orders to shoot the unarmed protesters, either to kill or to maim them with bullets which expand inside the body to maximise the damage. On this first day of carnage 17 Civilians were killed and over 750 seriously injured by live fire, with others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

Most of those who were shot were several hundred yards from the separation wall, and many were moving away, and shot from behind. Some had thrown stones and other missiles towards the wall or fence, but they were essentially unarmed and presented no real threat. This was the first of a whole series of protests at which such shootings took place, and among those killed here and on later occasions were journalists and medics treating casualties, who seem to have been deliberately targeted. Treating those already shot they were often static, sitting ducks.

The videos and pictures from Palestine horrified the public around the world and although some news organisations hardly showed them most of us saw them on social media. Some referred to them using terms such as “clashes”, suggesting some kin of equal contest between opposing forces, rather than describing them more accurately as what they were, a deliberate massacre.

Pressure had already been building in Israel for a law to outlaw photographing Israeli soldiers “for the sake of shaming them” after a video had shown an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian attacker who had already been incapacitated. That the Israeli military rightly insisted on him being tried for manslaughter for and his conviction (with a light sentence of 18 months) enraged many on the Israeli right and AP reported on June 18th this year that a ministerial committee headed by Israel’s justice minister had approved the proposal for a bill that would make ‘anyone “who films, photographs or records soldiers while performing their duty, with the intent of undermining the morale of Israeli soldiers and residents” or anyone who disseminates such materials’ liable to five years in prison.’

I photographed two protests against the shootings on Saturday. The first had been planned before in support of the Land Day protests in Palestine by the Revolutionary Communist group which has for years protested against UK support for the Israeli state, and in particular about the support by British businesses, and is a part of the growing worldwide BDS movement calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. For many years they held regular protests outside Marks & Spencer‘s flagship store on Oxford Street, where they also began this protest, before moving on in a ‘rolling protest’ along Oxford St, holding short protests with an account of each company’s involvement with the Israeli state at Selfridges, which sells Israeli wines, Adidas which supports the Israel football team, Boots which sells cosmetics made in Israel and Carphone Warehouse, where I left them continuing east along Oxford St.

Later in the day I went to the emergency protest called after the news of the shooting of protesters. The Israeli embassy is a few yards down an exclusive private road where photography and protests are not allowed, and the ban is strictly enforced by the police, with protesters being kept on the main road outside. The Russian Embassy for similar reasons is based at the other end of the same street.

This larger protest (and it was still growing as I had to leave) was attended by a wider range of people, including a number of Palestinians and Jews and most of those from the earlier protest. Most were those already involved in the campaign for human rights and freedom for Palestine, but there were others who had simply been horrified by the reports and felt they had to do something.

I also felt I had to do something more than simply take photographs, and later sent off a further donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity which provides medical services for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and in the camps in Lebanon – and who are in desperate need of funds to treat those maimed by the Israeli snipers. Thanks to an emergency appeal they have recently been able to deliver limb reconstruction equipment to Gaza. Please consider giving if you are not already a donor. And Gift Aid means it is one of the few ways that our government will help Palestinians.

Land Day protest against Israeli state

Against Israeli Land Day massacre

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Yarl’s Wood 13

July 5th, 2018

This was I think my 12th visit to Yarl’s Wood, but the 13th major protest there organised by the small left-wing political group Movement For Justice.

The protests they have organised here and elsewhere have done much to bring our terrible racist immigration detention system to public attention, and have given many detainees the courage to fight against the system, knowing they are not forgotten and that others outside know what is happening and support them.  MfJ bring a powerful public address system to their protests, and those who speak are mainly former detainees – and they also give people inside a voice over mobile phone link-ups.

So though the story told by a former active member of how she had been treated appalled me (though I realised I was only hearing it from one side) my overwhelming thought was that it was important that, whatever else, the campaign to close down these shameful prisons should go on.  The story didn’t actually surprise me – and some of what were presented as revelations were common knowledge, though some of the more personal aspects seem disgraceful. But much of it was exactly what might be expected of small left wing groups.

I’m not a member and would not consider joining such a group, or larger groups such as the SWP (which have also had their share of not dissimilar controversies.) I’ve always thought of myself as part of a much broader left movement, willing to support various campaigns I sympathise with, while still maintaining a professional distance and adhering to documentary and journalistic standards of integrity.

Perhaps some good has come out of the controversy, in that other groups have now also taken up the organising of protests against Yarl’s Wood, which before had been largely left to the MfJ. So far they seem to be on a much smaller scale but hopefully a larger movement will eventually grow. At the March protest they worked separately but alongside the MfJ, but since there has been at least one separate event. MfJ’s next protest there is on July 21st.

The most important of the other organisations is I think ‘Detained Voices‘ which publishes the messages of the women inside the prison. After the March 24 protest one of them began her comment with “We want to thank all the protesters who were here today, and I hope we made our presence felt even though we are oppressed.”

I tried hard to take pictures of the women inside Yarl’s Wood (and there are a few men too in the family units. Only a small proportion of them are able to reach the windows visible from the field where the protests take place, though others in the prison will hear the protests.  Outside we can hear them shouting through the narrow gaps the windows open and see them waving and holding up signs.

Photographing the women at the windows presents several problems. Obviously you need a long lens, and something a little longer than I have would help. Most of these were taken with a Nikon 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6, but working in DX mode which effectively makes it a 105-450mm, and most are at the 300mm end. Even then the windows only occupy about a third of the width of the frame, and some images are fairly severely cropped.  Obviously you need a fast shutter speed to avoid shake, and typically these were taken at 1/500s or faster. The aperture also matters, although there is little depth in the subject, but stopping down a stop from maximum aperture to f8 certainly helps to tighten the lens performance. To get those kind of exposure values I needed to work at around ISO 1000, not a problem with the NIkon D750, where this is hard to tell from base ISO.

A faster lens would help here, as you have to take almost all pictures through a mesh fence, and a wider aperture would put this more out of focus and so less noticeable. But a significantly faster 300mm would be large, heavy and expensive. The fence is also a rather better target for autofocus than the windows, and almost all these pictures were taken using manual focus.

The protesters pose another problem. They have come to shout and wave banners and placards at the women inside the prison, and in doing so often make it difficult to get a clear view of the women at the windows. It’s also difficult to get good images that show both the protesters on the rise and the women at the windows because you see the protesters from the back when trying to do so.

And of course I also want to photograph the protesters as well as the prisoners. You can see some of the results on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood.  And a couple of days earlier I had photographed a protest in solidarity with their hunger strike by people outside the Home Office: Support for Yarls Wood strikers.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Opera Performance

July 4th, 2018

I wasn’t expecting to go in side the Royal Opera House when I met a small group of members of the cleaner’s union CAIWU a short distance away on Bow Street, but when a few of them walked in I followed. And although I didn’t get to sing I did manage to take quite a few pictures before security led the few protesters outside, as they were too busy dealing with the noisy protesters to take much notice of me.

The foyer of the Royal Opera is a place of dim lighting, and even at ISO 12800 it really wasn’t enough. I don’t like to use flash in these situations as it draws attention to me and makes it more likely I will get thrown out. Flash is also a problem when people – like the security guys here – are wearing reflective clothing which results in large amounts of light coming back from the reflective strips. There was quite a lot of movement so I wanted a shutter speed of at least 1/125th second.

Faster lenses might help a little – my 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5 is a little pathetic in this department, but in situations like this you also need a reasonable depth of field, which generally makes larger apertures unsuitable even at the wider end.

I had expected a rather more leisurely start to the protest, which was around the sixth on successive nights at the Opera House in a concentrated campaign against the victimisation of six CAIWU members for their trade union activities. I’d assumed that security would have expected the protest and locked the doors as we arrived and that the protest would be on the pavement outside.

I had my D750 on a strap around my neck, but the D810 was still inside my camera bag with a longer zoom in place. Once inside I decided the situation and low light made there little point in stopping to take it out, though had their been time in advance to think I might have taken it out and changed to the 16mm f2.8 fisheye, often a useful lens at close quarters and with remarkable depth of field.

As I viewed the pictures later on my computer I was pretty despondent. The colour quality of most of those taken in the foyer was abysmal, with darker areas exhibiting a nasty purple cast and a blotchiness. I’d taken just a few with flash that were usable, and managed to get a couple looking not too bad. The rest I converted to black and white.

It’s the colour that goes first with excessive under-exposure, and by converting to black and white you can work at least a couple of stops faster. But I don’t like converting images taken thinking in colour to black and white – either my own or those by other photographers. But here it was necessary.

Outside on the pavement, alhough it was getting dark, things were much better.

More pictures: Cleaners protest at Royal Opera House.
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Against Racism

July 3rd, 2018

Writing today with the temperature around 30 degrees in the shade, my shirt sticking to my body and wondering if it is worth leaving the keyboard for a while and get another glass of ice-cold water it’s had to remember just how cold it was back in March. The several thousand who turned up to march on UN Anti Racism Day ignored apocalyptic weather forecasts, an amber weather warning, a temperature around zero with the occasional snowflake and a chilling east wind. And we froze.

Portland Place, outside Broadcasting House has become a popular starting point for many protests. Partly to point out what seems to many campaigners to be a peculiar reluctance on the part of the BBC to report protests in the UK, particularly those that might embarrass the government. And a protest against racism should embarrass the current government, with its ‘hostile environment’ towards refugees and other migrants and clearly discriminatory policies in other areas, Though to be fair it doesn’t only discriminate on grounds of race, but is has an equal opportunities discrimination policy that also extends to class, disability, women, etc.

Britain has changed enormously in my lifetime, and the arrival of many workers from the Commonwealth in particular has greatly enriched us, both by doing many of the vital low paid jobs we all depend on  but also because of the cultural enrichment provided by their differing traditions. Many when they came in the past were citizens with the right to settle here, but increasingly racist immigration acts have changed that, reaching the state where the Home Office under Theresa May has been caught carrying out illegal deportations and destroying records that give some the right to remain.

The Windrush generation – and there children – are only the tip of an ugly iceberg, with many thousands being affected. But government racism has also extended to more traditional groups who have lived in this country far longer, travellers and Roma. Much of their harassment comes from local government, often failing to meet the limited responsibilities they have to provide sites, and employing licensed thugs to turn travellers off land – including at times land the travellers actually own.

Some areas of discrimination have changed for the better. Catholics and non-conformists are now seldom subject to discrimination on the grounds of their religion at least in mainland UK. And Jews too now escape official disbarment, though some Tories and extreme right neo-Nazi inspired groups still keep up the anti-semitic hate, though many have now transferred they evil bile towards Muslims. And while caste discrimination is illegal in India (although it flourishes under the current right-wing Hindu regime), here in the UK wealthy Tory-supporting Hindus have so far blocked attempts to make it illegal here.

Many wars around the world remain racial wars, including that between Turkey and the Kurds, with Turkey doing its best at least throughout the last century to eliminate the Kurdish people and culture. On the protest Kurds were calling for an end to the attacks by Turkey and Islamic militants fighting on their behalf to take control of Afrin, with the aim of removing the majority Kurdish population.

Militarily the Turkish army is far superior, thanks largely to its NATO friends including the UK who have helped make it the strongest force in the area, and with the aid of its former ISIS and Al Qaeda allies victory in the area seemed inevitable, though it may only be the start of a prolonged guerilla struggle.

As the Kurds arrived opposite Downing St, a misguided police office removed the cones and tape across the middle of Whitehall that had guided the marchers away from Downing St, and it was taken as a signal for them to make a rush towards its gates. These were of course well-protected, with barriers and police offices – and behind them several armed police, but the situation certainly became chaotic.

Eventually police and march stewards brought them under some sort of control, with some moving on to the stage on which a rally had already begun, but others simply standing around in the middle of Whitehall. It was still biting cold, and the majority of marchers quickly drifted away to make their journeys home. I held out for the first four or five speakers, but then joined them. It was far too cold to stand around.

March Against Racism

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Oh Jeremy Bentham!

July 2nd, 2018

Would Jeremy Bentham f**k with our Pensions? !!NO!!” is perhaps not the most widely understood of all placards, but it did amuse me.  Though I’ve never studied at University College, UCL, of which he was one of the founders in 1826, his principle of  utilitarianism, that the “greatest happiness of the greatest number is the only right and proper end of government” is perhaps an earlier version of ‘for the many, not for the few‘, and UCL from the start admitted students of any race, class or religion, with women on equal terms with men.


Jeremy Bentham in 2014

Bentham (1748-1832) himself left his body to medical science but also specified it should be preserved, and since 1850 it has sat on his own chair dressed in his clothes in a glass-fronted cupboard in UCL’s South Cloisters, where you can visit him to pay your respects ever Mon-Fri from 9am to 6pm.

The occasion for the placard was a march through London by several thousand London Region UCU members and supporters, including many students. c


Socratics against tuition fees

University staff and students see the dispute not just as an argument about pensions, but about the increasing turning of university education into a simple business proposition, with cost-cutting by the use of  cheap labour from part-time workers, graduate student and others on zero hours contracts.


The Provost is an Ontological Turn Off

For Universities UK, the important thing is not the pursuit of knowledge and the maintenence of learning communities dedicated to this end but simply the accountants’ bottom line. For UUK and the Government, what matters is not the pursuit of the common good, that ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’ but the contribution to the gross domestic product and to the profits of those of few individuals of ‘high net worth’ who are major donors to the Conservative Party and related to many of those holding power.


‘Students Not Consumers – Fouc Ault this Pensions Nonsense’

Of course many of the posters and placards were rather less ivory tower – and you can see a rather wider range in the pictures at University teachers march for pensions.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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Chiswick House and Gardens

June 30th, 2018

I’m not sure that the London Borough of Hounslow’s tourist industry needs encouragement, though despite having one of the world’s busiest airports (and if our current government gets its way having managed to pass a vote on its expansion, one that will certainly be, despite all promises, busier, noisier and more polluting if an extra runway actually gets build) on its doorstep it doesn’t seem to be a major tourist attraction. Most are only too keen to get away from the LB Hounslow as fast as they can, by tube, taxi or expensive train.

But there certainly are parts worth a visit. Some houses – Chiswick House, Syon and Osterley and areas of housing; a splendid piece of riverside, a few interesting small museums including Hogarth’s House. And quite a few parks with points of interest, the finest of which is perhaps the grounds of Chiswick House. And these gardens are free to visit, open all the year round.

I grew up a few miles away and visited the gardens here a few time when young, brought by my father, a keen gardener, who always carried a pair of scissors in his pocket to take the occasional cutting when no-one was looking, and when near home, some seeds of the decorative giant thistle echinops to scatter in any likely looking bare patch of ground because they were so good for the bees he kept.

Then I think the gardens were overgrown, and the giant conservatory dilapidated, but both have now been much restores. The huge greenhouse – which people always said was built by Joseph Paxton of Chatworth and Crystal Palace fame (he was a gardener and not a footballer) but wasn’t – was really built by mistake. It was built in 1812-13 to the designs of Samuel Ware and was then the longest ever, at 2 feet over a 100 yards. The 6th Duke of Devonshire was then owner of the house and ordered it to put his camellia collection in. These plants, which grow wild in much of south-east Asia, became a great craze at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, selling for high prices and making fortunes for some nurseries.  Some have survived from back then and are now very rare.

I suspect my father took a few cuttings as usual, and there may still today be some from here surviving in some of the gardens in Hounslow he looked after, though the better of these are now long covered with flats.

It was probably the high prices that made people want to molly-coddle them, or perhaps just ignorance. They grow in their native soils in greater extremes of weather than we see in England, and just a few days earlier I had seen one in a front garden not far from our home with its flowers covered by snow. Though conservatories like this one would have been pleasant places to sit and walk and view your collection of plants, so perhaps the roof and heating were more for the benefit of people rather than plants.

And if you are not a gardener and wouldn’t know a camellia from a chrysanthemum, you will almost certainly have some familiarity with the drink made from the dried leaves of one variety of camellia. We call it ‘tea’.

The rest of the gardens were really the start of a new movement in garden design, the first “natural” garden in what became known as the ‘English Landscape Movement’, designed by William Kent for Lord Burlington, who also had the house built to his own designed, aided by Kent and copying the work from various Italian buildings, particularly those of Palladio.  The house was built in 1726-9 but work went on with gardens for some years. Although the gardens may be natural they contain many unnatural features of classical origin, the house and gardens representing Burlington’s attempt to create a Roman villa situated in a symbolic Roman garden.

Photographers will of course recognise them as they featured in several fine pictures by Bill Brandt, and of course many other photographers including Edwin Smith.  I’ve made a few pictures there in the past, but make no claims for these hurried snaps taken on a dull and wet day on an outing with others who were keen to get back to the car.

Both house and gardens are worth a visit, and the gardens and conservatory have been well restored (doubtless thanks to idiots buying lottery tickets.) There is a charge of entry to the house which is run by English Heritage, but the gardens are free. There is also a newly opened restaurant in which we had lunch, but I’d recommend a riverside walk from here to one of the Hammersmith pubs for a proper meal. You could also visit (on a Thursday or Saturday aftenoon) the small William Morris Society museum on Hammersmith Mall, and if sufficiently organised to book in advance, take the fascinating guided tour of Emery Walker’s house in Hammersmith Terrace.

Chiswick House Gardens

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________