Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Remembering the Great War

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

I wonder what my father was thinking a hundred years ago today, somewhere in Northern France as  part of the RAF’s ground crew. He’d been conscripted in January 1918, shortly after his 18th birthday (and after having been laid off at a munitions factory) though he could have avoided service  on health grounds. The doctor at his medical on his 18th birthday was ready to reject him, as he was stone deaf in one ear, and asked him “Do you want to go in the Army?” and he replied “Yes, I would like to“.

He didn’t talk about the war, but my sister did persuade him to write about his life not long  before he died in his eighties. He was assigned to the Royal Flying Corps, possibly because his craft skills were thought to be useful there, but more probably by chance, and after some rather dubious monts of “training” was posted to France in August 1918. At Farnborough he “was given the number 119377 and the rank of 3rd Air Mechanic (called 3rd Ack Emma), and awarded the magnificent wage of one shilling plus one penny a day, seven days a week – the extra penny because I was designated Clerk.”

He writes

“I came into collision with authority very soon. We had a load of petrol in and I was to help unload it. Corporal said “Put it down here”. I pointed out that the pit was on the other side of the lorry, and it was only sensible to put it over there. I was reported and had to go to see the Sergeant -Major. He said that I was on active service and people were often shot at dawn for disobeying orders. I told him I didn’t expect to live very long, and if he liked doing that sort of thing it was OK by me. He told me to clear off and not be so silly. I rather think he had a word with that corporal. I didn’t hear anymore about it.”

Dad was assigned to HQ Flight and they were stationed somewhere in the St Quentin area, though they had to move very frequently, and he spent much of his time loading and unloading lorries with their stores and equipment.

Chinese coolies prepared our sites and probably erected buildings; and of course they dug the petrol holes out. There was every nationality represented amongst the troops and auxiliaries. It was amazing how varied an organisation the armies were. There were lots of horses, mules and bullocks pressed in to do the work. Then there were the Tommies and the Frenchies and all the other fighting men, all colours, marching backwards and forwards – Colonials, Indians, Africans; we had an Empire then!”

We were up near Courtrai when the armistice was announced – was it called Bissingham or something like that? … I think we had an inkling that it was coming, and I was crossing over to the flight sheds which were old “Jerry” ones when I met a civilian who shouted “La guerre fini; tres bon, monsieur”; I replied “tres bon, m’sieur”.

He did come under fire on at least one occasion which he describes, but despite being in the RFC and the RAF I don’t think he ever flew. And while he had a rifle, at least when he was on guard duty, he never used it and said it “just got in the way.” Later Dad went on into Germany after many of those who had served longer were demobbed, ending up in sole charge of the stores he had worked in, only returning to the UK in December 1919 after which he got a month’s leave and £75 in back pay to finish his service, though as he says “of course I was still officially on reserve (perhaps I still am).”

Too old to fight in the Second War, Dad served at home, both as a firewatcher and as a bee-keeper. At the outbreak of the war he was secretary of the Twickenham & Thames Valley Beekeepers Association, who decided to hold a Honey show in “November 1939 to shed a little light on the prevailing gloom.” They called it the ‘Rainbow Show” and it continued annually until the 1945 ‘Victory Show’. Bee-keepers had a vital role in the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, with bees both producing honey and fertilising the crops, and though he makes no mention of it in his account I remember him telling me about cycling all around the county as ‘Foul Brood Inspector for Middlesex’, from Staines and Uxbridge to Harrow and beyond, instructing in good practice many of those with no previous experience of  keeping bees.

This year I’ve not photographed any of the events to mark 100 years since the end of the “Great War”, the “War to end all Wars” that are taking place today. I’m very much put off by the militaristic nature of so much of the annual celebrations that take part. I was very much more impressed a few years ago when I was in Germany on the 11th of November, when the day seemed to be celebrated not just to remember those who died, but as a festival for peace. It seemed far more respectful of the dead on both sides and what they died for.

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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 14

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

I’m getting rather used to the ride from Bedford Station to Yarls Wood, going up through Clapham and then a mile or so on a cycle path beside the A6 befgore turning up the hill from Milton Ernest to the meeting point for protesters in front of the Twinwoods gates. That final hill is long and steep, though it’s something of shock to look at the OS map and find I’ve only climbed around 45 metres (around 150 ft) as it feels much more.

This was the 14th protest that Movement for Justice have organised, bringing many former detainees with them, with coaches from London and elsewhere. I could have joined them in London, but that would add another 3 or 4 hours to what is already a long day for me – and one that leaves me with perhaps another 3 or 4 hours to select, process and caption the pictures I’ve taken. It would be rather quicker if I didn’t keep dozing off at the keyboard while doing it, my finger on a key sending Lightroom into a frenzy of paging through the images which takes minutes to recover. And sometimes the doze is deep enough for my nose to hit the keyboard…

MfJ have come in for considerable criticism following their treatment of one member over a personal issue, which has led to a number of groups refusing to work with them. While some of the criticisms appear to be justified, others suggested a remarkable ignorance about the organisation, which has never hidden its background and organisation. It isn’t something I would join, but I admire and am happy to support the stand they have taken on several issues, and particularly on immigration and immigration detention.

But the controversy has meant smaller protests at Yarls Wood, which is a shame, although there has been a rival protest on another date which perhaps helps to keep up the pressure on the issue. And the absence of some of the other groups has made the evident support that the MfJ gets from former detainees even more obvious. However MfJ decides on and organises the events, it is the former detainees who make the great majority of the speeches and lead most of the chanting and other activities during the protests, and my pictures show this clearly.

It’s clear too how welcome the protests are to those people, women and families, held inside Yarl’s Wood who are able to get to one of the windows which overlook the protest, or to make contace with the protesters by mobile phone, despite the efforts of the guards inside to keep them away. It’s difficult to photograph the windows through the close grid of the top 10 feet of fence, and the windows have limiters to only allow an inch or two of opening, but one woman has managed to get both hards through the narrow gap and make a heart shape with her fingers, surrounded by messages for help.

It’s something of a trek back from the field where the protest takes place to the road, through several fields and a short stretch of byway, and the fields are heavy going on a bicycle, often easier to get off and walk than to try and ride.  It it’s been wet there is mud which is slippery and soon builds up between wheel and mudguard on the Brompton, stopping the wheels from turning, and when the ground is dry the mud hardens into ridges and furrows which jolt the arms and can even throw you off the bike.

But once back on the road you can relax in the long downhill stretch to the A6,  though it’s annoying to have to brake for a few wiggles as you get near the main road. And when you leave the A6 cycle path to go up to the old road trough Clapham the first quarter mile is a steep climb. I have cycled all the way up, but its taxing, and this time I got off and walked, and even that was exhausting. But then its largely a gentle downhill all the way to the station and I had plenty of time to relax on a slow train to St Pancras.

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14

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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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Against Trump and Robinson

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It was a day of strong emotions in Westminster, with rival rallies. Having been attacked by right-wing protesters at the previous ‘Free Tommy’ rally in Whitehall I had decided to leave the reporting of the far right protest at Downing St to my less recognisable colleagues. Although I’ve covered many events on the right, and tried to do so without distortion – and been commended by some on the right for my objective reporting – I’ve also been featured in photographs and named on right-wing hate web sites, with their suggestions that photographers like me are an enemy that should be roughed up or worse.

So I began taking pictures at the Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism rally in Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords, where speakers included a number of trade unionists – such as the PCS speaker above –  as well as Green Party MEP for London  Jean Lambert  and Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism. I arrived after the event started, having rushed there from Croydon Pride, so I may have missed some, but I was suprised not to see or hear any Labour MPs.

The plan had been for those at the rally to march behind a lorry carrying their sound system to Parliament St and continue the rally closer to the extreme right protest, with police keeping a couple of hundred yards between the two events. But police refused to allow the lorry to move from where it was parked on Abingdon St. There was a bitter argument between the organisers and police who gave no coherent reason for the decision, which appeared to many to be politically motivated, but eventually the march which had been kept waiting for a long time proceeded without the powerful sound system.

Where Bridge Street runs in to Parliament Square, the Stand Up to Racism march was greeted  by a large group of anti-fascists who had met south of the river and come across Westminster Bridge, and a number of smoke flares were set off. Also on the corner were some small groups of right-wingers who were abusing the anti-fascists, with police trying to keep the two groups apart.

The Stand Up to Racism march continued up Parliament St to the police barrier across the bottom of Whitehall and held a further rally there, although without the lorry they could only use a smaller amplification system, and the speeches were inaudible for much of the crowd.

After having taken a few pictures of the speakers and the front of the crowd where they could be heard, I wandered back down towards Parliament Square, where the anti-fascist crowd was forming a barrier across the end of Parliament St, with police present in front of them.

There was a further police line across Bridge St, and beyond it I could see a larger group of right-wing football fans, being stopped by police from moving towards Parliament Square. There were a few of them roaming around the square, with police talking to them and trying to persuade them to leave. One of those, in front of Parliament was wearing a lurid t-shirt showing a young woman posing provocatively with various tattoos including a red rose and across her stomach below her half-exposed breasts in flowing script was ‘England’.

See more at:

Against Tommy Robinson & Trump
Whitehall rally against extreme-right
Anti-Fascists & Police harassed by hooligans

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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

________________________________________________________

Croydon Pride

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

01p60213
Croydon, 2001

I have mixed feelings about Croydon, another place in London where I have shown work in group shows in the past, and which I have photographed, particularly for its tram system, taken in 2001. You can see my pictures along ‘Line 1’ in Croydon Tramlink. It was an unusual project for me in that the pictures on-line were taken on 6×7 rather than 35mm film; as well as these medium format images I also worked with a panoramic camera as you can see above, though I’ve yet to get around to adding these pictures to the web site as promised.

I still visit Croydon reasonably frequently, either to visit or meet friends, and for the occasional protest, particularly those about immigration issues at Lunar House. But on Saturday 14th July I was there for ‘Croydon Pride’, photographing the procession through the centre of the town to the third annual Croydon Pridefest in Wandle Park, sponsored by Croydon Council and said to be the second largest Pride Festival in the capital. I’d given the main London Pride a miss this year, but thought it would be good to cover a much smaller and less corporate event.

It was a much smaller and more intimate event than London Pride, and I enjoyed meeting some of those taking part and photographing them. There had been fears that anti-trans activists would try to disrupt the event, but fortunately they did not materialise, and the march was a show of support for trans people, with a large banner for TransPALS, (Trans People Across London South) and others carrying flgs and placards in support.

I was sorry to have to leave the march soon after the start to make my way back to central London from East Croydon station, but other things were happening there I didn’t want to miss.

More pictures at Croydon Pride Procession

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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

________________________________________________________

Workers protest Univ of London hypocrisy

Monday, November 5th, 2018

While the University of London holds events in favour of women’s rights in its #LeadingWomen season which aims ‘to break down the barriers women still face in education and the workplace today’, it is still denying decent terms & conditions to migrant and BAME women who work there, by using outsourcing companies which offer minimal rights, often with bullying management and zero hours contracts.

The IWGB union which represents low paid workers in the University’s central administration decided to hold a protest on the night one of these events was taking place, and contacted the two women who had agreed to speak, explaining the situation to them. Ayesha Hazarika and Catherine Mayer cancelled their appearances at the #leadingwomen event and instead came to speak at the protest. The university had to call off its event.

Other ‘Leading Women’ who spoke at the meeting included Mildred Simpson, who led the succesful LSE campaign by the United Voices of the World union to be brought in-house, and Newham Cllr Belgica Guania, the first Ecuadorian councillor in the UK.

The university fails to recognise the IWGB which a majority of the low-paid workers belong to, but has been forced to respond to their demands by a series of high-profile protests and strikes. It has now agreed in principle to bring these employees, currently employed by cost-cutting cleaning contracting firms back into direct employment by the university, but is refusing to engage with them on when and how this might happen.

The dispute is not only about conditions of service – sick pay, holiday pay, pensions, maternity pay – but also about having a management which respects the dignity of the workers and is also concerned with getting a good quality of service rather than cutting corners and overworking staff to cut costs. Often workers have to accept bullying and unsafe working practices and a failure to provide proper equipment by contractors to keep their jobs.

UoL #LeadingWomen protest hypocrisy

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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

________________________________________________________

Trump, Trump, Trump…

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

It was a week of protests against Trump, certainly making very clear the point that Trump is not welcome here. And of course he isn’t – there must be very few outside a few Conservative MPs who really think it was a good idea to invite him, and their number must have dwindled at seeing the farce of a visit that public opinion forced on the government.

Trump’s only contact with London was to walk a few yards to and from a helicopter to the house of the US Ambassador where he spent a night in the large estate in Regent’s Park, surrounded by a huge security operation behind a tall fence. I suspect police had advised that it would not be possible to ensure he would be able to travel on London’s roads to either Buckingham Palace or the US Embassy at Nine Elms. It had been thought that the visit had been arranged for the President to officially open the embassy, but he described it as as ‘lousy’ and ‘horrible’, and refused to go there.

The week started with a protest there, organised by Momentum Wandsworth. Sensibly the protest was held on the main road in front of the entrance to the embassy garden, where workers in the embassy come out on foot, and also the protest could be seen by those going along the fairly busy road.

The embassy is built on a site with a radical tradition, as one of the protesters reminded us, wearing a suffragette sash in memory of one of the leading suffragettes, Charlotte Despard who lived and worked there.

There was a large and noisy protest in Regent’s Park when his helicopter arrived, and the protesters intended to keep up the noise all night until he flew off to a military base to be safe from protesters. Being Trump he will have boasted they were there to welcome him as he walked from the helicopter to the house, where I suspect effective double glazing will have kept out the sound. We did see the helicopter fly in, but the landing site was out of view.

Later that evening, protesters dropped a giant banner with the message ‘TRUMP: CLIMATE GENOCIDE’ over the river wall opposite the Houses of Parliament. The protesters say that by wilfully ignoring the clear science on climate change he is threatening the existence of human life on earth. It seemed a very good and clear reason to protest against him.

I didn’t get to Chequers or Windsor Castle, but there were protests at both. In London on Friday there were several protests, two on a large scale. The first, organised by women and supported by a wide range of women’s groups, highlighted his misogyny, but also protested more generally with what was described as as a day of joy, love, solidarity and resistance celebrating the diverse communities which make up our great city of London, standing together for Justice, Equality and Peace. It was against Trump and others whose agendas driven by desire for profit, greed, power & domination are ‘wreaking havoc – fuelling conflict; displacing vast numbers from their homes; waging war on our rights; destroying our planet.’

This march with tens of thousands was still making its way through London’s streets when a second and much larger march, estimated at a quarter of a million people, organised by ‘Together Against Trump’ began, on its way to a rally in Traflagar Square, though by the time I arrived there, the square was already full to capacity. Owen Jones had begun the Stop Trump Coalition in February with grassroots campaigners, trade unions, NGOs and politicians and others, including SWP members, had formed ‘Stand Up to Trump’, which also took part in the march.

I walked through Soho, which had people on almost every street with posters and placards, most intending to join one or other of the two big marches. There was a TV crew touring the area with two actors impersonating Trump and First Lady Melania, though not particularly well, but I had come for the marathon ‘Revolution Day’ street protest party against Trump’s visit organised by Soho Radio, which was meant to start at mid-day and continue at least until midnight. It wasn’t really happening on my first visit, so I returned later to take more pictures, and then again after photographing the main march, by which time things had really got going, though I think it would have got even more interesting in another hour or two, by which time I was having dinner elsewhere.

US Embassy protest says NO to Trump
Noise protest against Trump
‘Trump: Climate Genocide’ Giant banner
‘Bring The Noise’ Women march against Trump
Massive protest against Trump’s Visit
Soho parties to protest Trump’s visit
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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

________________________________________________________

Sutton KOSHH March

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018


The protest march reaches the St Helier open space in front of the hospital

I don’t often go to Sutton, a town in South London, part of Surrey that was absorbed into Greater London in the local government reforms of 1965.  It really isn’t a place there is much to go there for, unless you need to shop, and there are plenty of other places for that.  I did spend a little time in the area in 1997  when I was photographing London and its buildings, though I think I found relatively little to interest me in Sutton itself. Since then then only time I can remember returning is when with seven friends we put on a photography show in the library there in 2007.

One of the campaigns that I’ve come across regularly taking part in various protests about the NHS, against cuts in services, creeping privatisation and hospital closures has been KOSSH, a slightly sinister sounding name standing for ‘Keep our St Helier Hospital ‘, and when I got an email telling me about their planned march celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS and against the plans of the Epsom and St Helier trust to close A&E, Maternity, Paediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Surgery, Intensive Care, Coronary Care and the Cancer Centre at one or both hospitals and sell off the sites, I was interested to join them and photograph the event.

Of course, as so often it wasn’t the only event I would like to have covered. Also taking place in Central London was the annual Pride march, which I’ve photographed most years since the early 1990s, as well as several other local events. But Pride isn’t what it was, and the march in particular has become such a corporate event that I’ve rather lost interest in photographing it. Last year’s event had been enlivened by the Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights Pride march, which had managed to take pride of place at the front of the main event (though only because they were not allowed to join the main march) but there appeared to be nothing like that planned this year, though later I heard that a group of anti-trans feminists had put in an appearance.

So my plan for the day had been to go to Sutton and photograph the march, then go into Soho and photograph on the streets there after the official march. But it was a very hot day, and by the time I had marched all the way to St Helier Hospital and photographed the short rally there,  I was exhausted, and caught the two trains to take me home for a cool drink and a rest.

St Helier Hospital (the site includes the Queen Mary children’s hospital) is one of the few buildings in the area that had attracted my attention back in the 1997, on high ground a mile or two north of the centre of Sutton, in one of the largest council-built estates in London. The St Helier Estate was a ‘garden city’ cottage  overspill estate built by the London County Council between 1928 and 1936 outside of London,  and with over 9000 homes was the largest such development by the LCC other than Becontree, and the hospital there, in a modern style, was opened in 1938.

Closing either of the hospitals would lead to longer emergency journeys in what is often a very congested part of London.  The full range of services would only be available at St Georges in Tooting. Back in 2003 I sat in an ambulance for around an hour stuck in traffic on my way there – until one of the medics accompanying me suggested I might have an emergency – and even then with blue lights flashing our progress was slow. The proposed cuts would reduce services at a time when needs are increasing and are proposed only to save money to meet government cuts which call for huge savings by the trust.

The die-in at the end of the march wasn’t huge, and quite a few of those who started the march, including several in poor health, didn’t manage to complete it in the summer heat, though I’m sure none actually died. But it made the point that hospital closures will lead to people dying, particularly those needing emergency treatment.

More at NHS at 70 – Save St Helier Hospital

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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

________________________________________________________

The Elephant still says no, but council says yes

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Minor changes to the plans to demolish the Elephant and Castle shopping centre have not changed the opposition to them by local residents and students at the London College of Communication but were enough to convince Southwark’s planning committee to vote narrowly in favour by 4 votes to 3.

As the committee meeting started there was a loud and well-attended protest outside. The proposals by the developer still involve removing the working class and largely Latin traders and wider local community from the Elephant, in what is clearly social cleansing and further gentrification of Southwark.

The revised plans include only a low percentage of social housing and fail to meet local demands for affordable retail units, compensation for all traders and meaningful involvement and accountability for the people who live, work and study in the Elephant.

Like most such proposals by London’s councils – mainly Labour dominated councils – the development offers rich pickings for the developer, and realises the value of some publicly owned assets, with on the side a number of rather doubtful personal advantages for some councillors and council officials who get lavishly entertained by developers – and some move into lucrative jobs either with quasi-private council arms or working for developers. Local government in the UK has often involved a curious mix of municipal pride and profitable contracts or business advantages, but what was once a largely voluntary system of government has now become a rather well paid career for some of those involved.

While local councils – such as Southwark Council – once used to very clearly see their aim as working to improve the lives of the residents of their boroughs, particularly those in poor housing and low paid jobs, that vision now seems to have been lost. In part it is because of greater pressures and cuts by national governments that have forced many councils to cut services, but I think the major reason is in the rise of political careerists who lack the idealism that was once ingrained in so many. They see themselves as managers of a business rather than as working for the people.

The protest was a lively one, with some good material for photographers. Coloured smoke always helps, though it presents some problems and probably isn’t good for the lungs. It’s something it’s easy to have too much off, with everything seen through a smoky haze, and you often need to move back and photograph from a distance.

It’s good too when there is a little action, even when only symbolic, as when UAL’s campaigns officer Papaya Guthrie made an attempt to enter the council offices. At times like this it becomes vital to be in the right place at the right moment, and I had fortunately anticipated that something like this might happen. While I usually like to say that I record what people do at events rather than posing or telling them for the photograph, in situations like this the presence of a photographer does have some influence on events, and I’m sure that my presence and that of other photographers did encourage her. I think too that the police officer in this picture has just realised that his actions are being photographed – and this may have had some influence on him releasing his hold and moving back.

Fortunately the light was still good, although its generally a rather dim street, but it was only around 7pm on a July evening, as I was working in manual mode on the Nikon D750, and for some reason (or possibly just my fumble fingers again) had set the camera which was working on auto-ISO to a shutter speed of 1/1000 and the aperture on the 18-35mm lens to wide open. Though I think accidental, it was a fairly good choice for this situation, as the shutter was fast enough to avoid any camera shake (in a crowded situation you usually get jostled) or subject movement, and since I was so close I was working at short focal lengths – 18 and 20mm for these two pictures – and even at f3.5 there is considerable depth of field.

I rarely chimp. Looking down at an image on the rear of the camera loses your contact with the subject and your concentration. And working with Nikon’s auto-ISO it becomes far too easy to either totally under or over expose images when you go out of the ISO range set. But here it worked fine, though at ISO 4,500 these pictures are visibly rather noisy. I could have got smoother images working at a lower ISO but it didn’t matter, though there are some other pictures – both with the D750 and the D810 where I was also using auto-ISO where noise does become an issue. Lightroom can do a decent job in minimising it, but high ISO also reduces detail in images and without some noise can produce rather ‘plastic’ skin tones like make-up applied with a trowel. It’s a look some like but not to my taste. And within limits, like the grain on Tri-X, Nikon noise is not unattrative.

Eventually Ms Guthrie was eased away from the door by a woman police officer and her foot pushed out by security and, surrounded by officers she was moved a yard or two forward. After moving in to photgraph her with the police around, taking my usual care not to get in their way, I moved back, partly to allow other photographers to get pictures too. I’d been the only one in position to get pictures earlier, but by now a couple of others taking pictures had moved around and I wanted to get out of their way. And when she took out a smoke flare from her bag and set it off I was far enough away not be be engulfed by the smoke.

More text and pictures at Refuse plans to destroy the Elephant

______________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________

NHS 70

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

I was born before the start of the NHS but it has been there for almost all of my life, there when I’ve needed it. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the clinic where my mother was given free orange juice, which I loved, though I remember it as being rather viscous and sweet compared to the orange juice I now drink every morning at breakfast. And they also gave her cod liver oil, which was rather difficult to get me to take, though I’m now sure it did me good.

Of course the NHS wasn’t then welcomed by everyone, and was brought in against considerable opposition, both from doctors and from inside the Conservative Party. And it has never been perfect; in particular dentistry has never really been properly brought within the ambit of a health service to meet the three core needs set out by Aneurin Bevan:

  • that it meet the needs of everyone
  • that it be free at the point of delivery
  • that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

and there were years when I couldn’t afford NHS treatment that have left a legacy in my current lack of real bite (though I get by.)

But even with this, we have moved far beyond the days of my parents, when the extraction of all of a person’s teeth and their replacement by a “full set” was a popular (and quite expensive) coming of age or wedding present. They woke every morning to see their teeth grinning at them on the bedside table in a glass tooth-mug, soaking in some tooth wash and part of the routine of rising was to put their teeth in.

There have of course been many medical advances since July 5th 1948, and treatment under the NHS has improved greatly. When I think of the many treatments I’ve received over the past fifteen years that have kept me alive and more or less fit to work, about the only ones that would have been available back in 1948 were aspirin and the concerned care of doctors and nurses.

There have been some set-backs too. Many were appalled at the introduction of prescription charges by the Conservative government in 1952 (the 1949 Act by a Labour government had made this possible – and led to Bevan’s resignation.) They were free again for three years in the 1960s and are now £8.80 per item, 176 times the 1952 rate, though actually rather greater than this as the initial charge was ‘per form’ and since 1955 it has been ‘per item’. The amount these charges raise is relatively small in terms of the NHS budget, perhaps around £400m, mainly because almost 90% of prescribed items go to those of us who qualify for free prescriptions.

While prescriptions are now free for people living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, our current government has announced a crackdown on faudulent claims for free prescriptions in England, an expensive sledge-hammer to crack an insignificant nut. Many of those currently accused of having falsely claimed to be eligible are found to actually qualify for exemption, but have simply not applied or not kept their paperwork up to date.

The prescription crack-down is perhaps simply and example of the general Conservative apoplexy at the idea of people getting something for free that they or their friends could be profiting from. More and more aspects of our NHS treatment are now being handed over to private companies to deliver, and the NHS is continually being weakened by this back-door privatisation, sliding slowly into the hands of healthcare businesses. And once this process is more or less complete – unless we get a government that reverses it – those companies will be keen to go further, to move to a US-style insurance-based system with exorbitant medical costs and people being turned away because they have conditions their insurance does not cover or because they have been unable to afford the insurance payments.

And, as I point out on My London Diary, those in government who legislate the future of our NHS have considerable legal and declared financial interests (as well as others with interests that for legal reasons they are not obliged to declare) :

“A report by Social Investigations in 2014 found 65 Conservative peers, 12 Lib-Dem peers, 37 Labour peers and 33 Crossbenchers with interests in private healthcare companies, as well as 63 Tory MPs, 3 Lib-Dems, 14 Labour members and one other. Some held directorships, others were shareholders or had received payments from companies for various services etc.”

Aneurin Bevan never actually said “The NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it” though he certainly did say that people would have to fight to keep it and its principles alive. At no time in its history has it been so much under threat as now, and this march showed that there were still people prepared to fight for it, though it is hard to be confident that we will win. I’m hopeful that it will see me out, but fearful that its demise might see the death of me.

More text and far too many pictures including those of the speakers and politicians supporting the event at NHS at 70 – Free, for all, forever

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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.

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US Torture protest

Monday, October 29th, 2018

The trouble with protesting outside the new US Embassy in London is that almost nobody sees the protest. The area around is still something of a building site, and even when the tall blocks of flats around are completed and sold, relatively few of them will be inhabited, with many going as investments to overseas investors, few if any of whom will actually ever live there and many will never even visit.

The path around the embassy leads nowhere; only those going to the embassy on business will use it, and the protest I was going to photograph was timed for after the embassy was closed. The only people who came to see what was happening were the police and security on duty, as well as one embassy employee in a suit who came briefly and took a few photographs.

So my photographs – and those taken by some of the protesters – are the only public face of the protest, and while mine have appeared on Facebook and on my own web site, as well as on the site of the agency I sent them to, they have not yet been sold for any use. Guantanamo is no longer considered news by the media, and there are no longer any detainees with a UK connection that might make them so for the UK press.

It would be slightly more public to hold this and other protests on the main road in front of the embassy, but it is set back well from the road, and some of the connection would be lost. But at least the protest would be seen by those going along the road, which at the rush hour does have a number of pedestrians, cyclists, cars, buses and other vehicles passing – rather busier in total than the old venue in Grosvenor Square. Or perhaps there is somewhere ele in London sufficiently connected with the US as to be a suitable site for protest?

So while the protesters put in time to make their way to this rather out of the way place, and I worked hard to exploit the visual possibilities of the situation – in some ways rather more exciting than Grosvenor Square, if nobody actually sees the protest itself or the photographs, our time and effort is rather wasted. Torture continues at Guantanamo and I fear this and similar protests will have little effect in stopping it.

You can see more pictures from the protest at Torture protest at US Embassy and please feel free to share the pictures and this post. The images (except for the top one, which I didn’t send as it wasn’t a part of the protest) are available for editorial use from Alamy though almost impossible to find through their rather opaque search system.

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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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