Last Saturday I had a busy day in London, starting outside the French Embassy:
I wasn’t sure how welcome male photographers would be at an all-women demonstration, but although one or two women turned away or hid behind their placards when they saw I was taking their pictures there were no problems.
More pictures of this demonstration by Hizb ut-Tahrir against the French decision to make wearing full-face masks on the street an offence – and some of my thoughts about it – on My London Diary.
As I left I walked back and got on a bus to get another view of the protest, and found myself stuck in a traffic jam. Unfortunately having moved very slowly until reaching the protest, the bus then moved past it fairly rapidly, giving me little chance to take pictures – and none were worth using. It didn’t help that half of the protest was taking place below some scaffolding. Of course the bus got stuck in traffic again before the next stop, but fortunately the driver let me off through the front door and I hurried along to take the tube to Covent Garden. I like travelling by bus – particularly on double deckers where you get such a good view from the top deck – but the slightest problem can lead to long hold ups, and in central London at least the tube is often much quicker and generally more reliable.
Outside the Ahava shop on Monmouth St, close to Seven Dails, there were two demonstrations taking place. Ahava sells beauty products produced by Israeli settlers in the illegally occupied West Bank. Supporters of the Palestinian cause call for the government to stop the illegal trade and for people to boycott the shop, while the Zionist Federation and the right wing English Defence League were opposing the boycott – and handing out leaflets which compared those calling for a boycott to the Nazis.
Although the boycott demonstration was scheduled to take place from 12-2pm, things were pretty quiet when I was there shortly before 2pm and it apparently only really got going around an hour after I had left. More pictures.
A short walk from Covent Garden took me past Aldwych station, which had reopened for a special event as a part of the celebrations of the Blitz, 70 years ago. There were tours (they sold out rapidly) inside the station, where many sheltered from the bombing, and an old London bus parked outside, with a Picture Post advert on its front. Aldwych, a short branch down from Holborn on the Piccadilly line closed as a station years ago, but was kept for staff training and to hire for film use. I took a few pictures inside on a visit there back in 2002. But what really caught my eye was the advert on the front of the bus for ‘Picture Post’, showing two large eyes. Getty Images, now the owners of the Hulton picture collection, organised an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of its demise in 2007, and you can see some of the images from it on the ‘Time’ site.
The ‘Life 4 A Life‘ march calling for increasing sentences for murder was gathering at Temple, but one of the groups taking part asked to to go with them and photograph them in front of the Royal Courts of Justice, a short walk away.
Most of those taking part were the families and friends of murder victims, and it was impossible not to feel for their grief. And there were certainly some cases where it seemed that the legal system had failed – as with Danny Barber whose friends are in the picture above.
But in general harsher sentences would not help at all, and have no deterrent effect. We already have a very high prison population and clearly the system isn’t working properly, but rather than keep digging we need to change direction and find ways that work. We need to change the whole way that we police communities – and it isn’t something that can be left to the police. It calls for a cultural shift involving the mass media as well as attitudes throughout society – perhaps something that the ‘Big Society’ should really be about. More pictures
To be continued shortly in Part 2.