Archive for February, 2016

No More Zombies

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

I think I’ve photographed enough zombies. Back when I first came across them it was fun, but now it seems to have lost any freshness – or perhaps I am just getting too old. The first zombie event I photographed was at Halloween in 2006, and was a late afternoon pub-crawl around London’s shopping centre, with the fancy dress zombies being largely ignored by true zombie shoppers on Oxford St (Crawl of the Dead starts well down the page.)

Since then I’ve photographed many more zombie events, including more pub crawls and also several zombie protests including the March of the Corporate Undead and a Halloween protest outside Parliament.

Looking back on them, the main thing that hits me is how much better cameras (and perhaps this photographer too) have got at photographing events in low light, though this year’s zombies were rather cheating in coming out in the early afternoon. And what began as young people having a little seasonal fun was now a charity event, in this case for the very worthwhile charity of St Mungo’s Broadway, a charity which provides the homeless with emergency shelter, housing, healthcare and training. Though it’s a good cause it does mean that the event was rather more organised and lacked the anarchic nature of those early crawls which attracted me.

I won’t promise I’ll never photograph a zombie again, but I won’t be going out of my way to photograph them – and I didn’t on this occasion. I’d come up to London to photograph a couple of rather more serious events, beginning with a No Third Runway rally in Parliament Square.

The expansion of Heathrow – as I’ve written here before – would be disastrous for London, where air quality is already cutting our lives short. It’s part of a scenario of increasing air traffic which would be disastrous for climate change across the world too. We need to find sensible ways to cut air traffic, perhaps by ending short-haul flights and imposing a ‘frequent flyer’ tax, as well as removing incentives which encourage flights.

I wasn’t too pleased with the pictures I took at this event, which somehow seemed difficult to work. I had problems too with fill-flash, and the flash circuitry of my Nikon D700 has definitively had it. It’s something of a miracle that the camera is still working at all after now more than 460,000 exposures, more than three times what the shutter is rated for.  I’m actually waiting for it to fail so I can declare it beyond economic repair and buy a nice up-to-date replacement. But it wasn’t really that, either me or the event wasn’t really working. Perhaps it was the way everyone was crowded up to the barriers in front of a small press area in front of the stage, or perhaps airport protests attract a different less photogenic type of protester, less happy than most at being photographed!

Two minutes away down Victoria St, and I was photographing a cow, or rather a woman in a cow suit at another protest taking place outside the cumbersomely named Department of Business, Innovation and Skills or BIS, against the top secret trade deal which is aimed at giving the major corporations control over our lives. Politicians sometimes accuse campaigners of scaremongering over TTIP, but as we find out more about it, we find it is even more scary than was imagined.  Over 3 million people in Europe have signed a petition against it, but so many of our politicians are in corporate pockets that it seems likely to be approved.  More at TTIP protest at Business Ministry.

I walked back to Waterloo Station from Westminster, and met the tail end of the zombies as they emerged from Leake St, London’s graffiti HQ under the platforms. I’d known it was taking place, but thought I would have missed it.

But since I hadn’t I went with them,taking a few pictures as they made their way on the footbridge across the Thames and into Jubilee Gardens.

You can see more pictures at Zombies crawl for St Mungo’s, but my heart wasn’t really in it, and as they moved off to continue the crawl around the centre of London I walked away to catch my train.

City of Culture – Hull (Part 2)

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

And at the end of that alley, as some Hull readers will know, is the best pint of beer in Hull (and probably the cheapest, at least in a pub.) The pub was refurbished in the 1980s, which fortunately meant restoring it to something quite like it was at the start of the century. And there is no piped music and no TV. It’s been fortunate to escape all the web listings of pubs in Hull that I’ve seen, so I won’t name it here.


As one very small contribution to Hull’s 2017 UK City of Culture title (which I suspect will go largely unnoticed) I hope to publish a second edition of ‘Still Occupied’ (this time with a PDF version) and hopefully another book of my more recent images of the city, perhaps also including some of the colour work from the Ferens show. (I’m still considering the contents of these books, and rather than a second edition it may more closely represent the original show.)

How not to treat a fine mural.

A rather secret path called The Trans-Pennine Trail goes across the lock gates of Albert Dock

One of my favourite images from ‘Still Occupied’ at the Ferens Art Gallery in 1983

And the same building this week

The view from the footpath across the roof – in 2016 and, below, 1981

Dramatic light towards the end of the day

All colour images on this page taken in the past week using a Fuji X-T1 and 18mm or 18-55mm lens.

Back to Part 1.


City of Culture – Hull (Part 1)

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Regular readers may have noticed that I’ve been missing for a few days. I’ve been away on a trip that took me to – among other places – Hull in east Yorkshire, which next year, will be UK City of Culture 2017.

Holy Trinity, Hull

At the moment, the centre of Hull is almost entirely covered by orange plastic barriers as they retile most of the city centre for the event. I only hope that, unlike East London for the 2012 Olympics, they don’t end up destroying the most interesting aspects of the area.

Joseph Rank’s building beside the River Hull, 1984 and, below, 2016

Not architecturally great, but an important Hull landmark now lost

My interest in Hull dates back to 1965, when I was taken to visit the family home of the woman who was later to become my wife. It was a powerful experience that left me feeling I had travelled back in time, both so far as the city and her family were concerned. Last week I read one of my wife’s uncles description of that home, and how though we were all smokers then (and I was too) it was a brave man who would light up there.

A wide area around the university is now student housing

The city was an interesting place, and perhaps surprisingly struck me as very much a city of culture, or rather of diverse cultures. Some fine architecture that had survived the wartime raids that flattened much of the city – but never made the wartime news. A freight port, though the large fishing industry, already curtailed following the first ‘cod war’ was about to disappear in a few years following the second in 1972-3.

Sharp St War memorial

As well as a vibrant working-class culture, there was also a surprising level of ‘high culture’, with a fine art gallery, a good theatre, classical music, with a level of participation in events and amateur circles that was impressive. Both my future wife’s parents had been violinists, and her mother still played piano as well as participating in a women’s literary group. There was also a strong poetry tradition in the city, though whether Larkin was an inspiration or a drag on this I’m not sure.

Gate to Pearson Park

Part of the reason for this was doubtless the isolation of Hull, out on a limb with no other cities of any size within reasonable travelling distance. Rather than travel, most of the time people did things in Hull, both those who lived inside the city boundary and those in its hinterland.

Bull Inn, Beverley Rd

Hull was the city where I had both the time and opportunity to carry out my first large-scale photographic project, starting in the mid-70s. This was shown at the civic Ferens Art Gallery in 1983, with around 140 prints.

The River Hull

Most of the images from that 1983 show, together with a number of others, were in my 2011 book with the same title, ‘Still Occupied: A View of Hull‘, still available on Blurb (or more cheaply for UK customers direct from me). It contains all or almost all of the black and white images from the original show, along with over 150 more in its 120 pages, (some are reproduced rather small,) but I decided against including any colour images.

Hepworth’s Arcade

Sales of the volume have been small and it must be one of the rarest books on Hull. One of the first few books I made, it was never made available as a digital version, and is thus rather expensive.

A passageway leads to one of Hull’s best-kept secrets – see Part 2

All colour images on this page taken in the past week using a Fuji X-T1 and 18mm lens.
Feature continues tomorrow.


WPP 2016

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

You can read about the winners of the 2016 World Press Photo Contest on the Lens Blog at the New York Times – and doubtless elsewhere by the time I finish writing this. I don’ like the title of their article by James Estrin, The World’s Best News Photos, as good though these images may be, they are only one panel’s selection from the 82,951 submitted of the many millions taken in 2015. The NYT did do rather well in the awards – perhaps because there are now rather fewer newspapers with a “serious commitment to quality photojournalism.”

The winning entry, a picture taken by moonlight (24mm, 1/5s, f1.4 ISO 6400) of a baby being passed under the barbed wire border fence as Syrian refugees cross from Serbia into Hungary taken on 28 August 2015 by Australian freelance Warren Richardson certainly catches something of the reality of the refugee crisis, but it also epitomises the problems facing photographers today.

The picture was previously unpublished. Richardson spent several months working and living with the refugees without any paid assignments, enduring himself something of the hardships they faced – including being beaten by police. But although this picture – certainly one of the’ World’s Best News Photos’ was submitted to two agencies, no newspaper or magazine around the world thought it worth publishing until now. If he hadn’t sent it to WPP we would probably never have seen it.

You can read his story Refugee Crisis Hungary on his web site, and see around 40 pictures from it,though the winning WPP entry is not included.

I’ve only had time for a quick glance through the other WPP winners so far – and will certainly go back to look at greater length. It’s good to see the WPP run under stricter rules and I hope there will be none of the controversies we have seen in recent years.

Protest at Court

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Signs at the front of the court prohibit photography

I always feel a little uneasy at photographing around courts. In the UK you are not allowed to photograph inside courtrooms during trials, and photography is not generally permitted on the court property. The Supreme Court, perhaps because it has been set up more recently in the former Middlesex Guildhall is an exception, though not one I’ve yet taken advantage of, allowing photography generally throughout the building except in courtrooms that are sitting on the day of your visit.

At Southwark Crown Court, things are even more restricted, as not only is it illegal to photograph on the court precinct, but the area around the court is one of the increasing areas of privately owned space in London, ‘More London‘, whose security guards will prevent you from photographing on the actual roadway outside the court or on the opposite pavement. You are restricted to the actual pavement in front of the court, though I did take a few pictures before getting told I was not allowed to by ‘More London’ staff.

‘More London’ security came and told me I could not photograph here after I took this picture

Generally, ‘More London’ prohibit or control photography over most of the area between Tooley St, the River Thames and Tower Bridge, including outside City Hall, though they generally have the common sense not to try and enforce this for protests outside City Hall itself – and most photographers would tell them to get lost if they tried. There is generally a very clear public interest involved and police would almost certainly avoid taking any action.

The pavement is reasonably wide, but much of it was taken up by the Independent Workers (IWGB) cleaners union protesting for a living wage and an end to bullying and intimidation for the workers, employed by Mitie, who clean the court; protesters are subject to similar prohibitions to photographers and the three photographers present were sharing the space with the protesters. I was pleased to have the 16mm fisheye in my camera bag, its wide angle of view making it possible to photograph in very limited spaces.

This is one of several images that were only possible using it – I would have had to stand on the court premises without it – and that was not allowed (though I might have just briefly got away with it.)

It also let me take this picture without encroaching on ‘More London’s roadway – well I might have had just one foot on it. But useful though it is, it does give some problems, even after making use of the Fisheye-Hemi plugin or other software to straighten the verticals. The curvature of the horizontals can still annoy; it is possible to convert to rectilinear perspective (and Lightroom will do so by default), but you can only do this by sacrificing much of the very wide angle of view that was the reason to use the fisheye in the first place.

Protests, like photography, are prohibited in the court’s precincts, but not all the protesters respected this, with one marching up the steps clutching an IWGB poster ‘Real Living Wage Now!!!’. But unfortunately he soon dropped it…

Undaunted, later he was protesting for a living wage for the cleaners on the pavement as a group of lawyers walked by.

More on the protest and more pictures at IWGB Cleaners protest for Living Wage.


Pre-Raphaelite Staines?

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

It was a brief moment and I managed to take a picture which was tolerably sharp and focussed as a young girl, balloon in one hand swung around from the fence overlooking the Thames in July 1980. I can’t recall what the event was, but it had a band playing in the bandstand (long demolished) behind the old Town Hall and lots of people in old-fashioned fancy dress, with free balloons being given away by the local newspaper.

The area where I took these pictures has now been redeveloped by the council and made into a larger but less interesting space. The bandstand has gone- though it wasn’t much used and the whole area made more open. And there has of course been a feeble effort to rename Staines.

My contact sheet – one complete film on the event, except of a first picture of my wife holding a shopping bag and one out-of-focus close-up of my fingers in front of the lens – gives no help, though it does tell me I was using Kodak Plus X and developed it in Kodak HC110, and that I was using my Minox 35EL.

The Minox 35EL was claimed to be the smallest full-frame 35mm camera, just tall enough to enclose a 35mm cassette and just wide enough for the casette and a similar space to hold film on the other side of the 1×1.5″ film gate. Made mainly of plastic with its 35mm lens on a lensboard that folded down for the lens to spring into place it was about as small and light as a 35mm camera could get, fitting easily in to a shirt or trouser pocket when folded back. The electro-mechanical shutter made a very discreet click and it was a great instrument for working without intruding. So good that many spies used it – and the USSR even made an almost perfect copy in Ukraine which doubtless supplied the KGB.

The 35mm f/2.8 Color-Minotar was supposed to be very sharp, though the first one I bought was decidedly not – after several months of argument and a visit to the Luton office of Leitz, who distributed it in the UK, they swapped my camera for one that worked properly – along with a slightly snooty reminder that there were no performance criteria for the lens – but they had actually tested this one! I still have my third or fourth Minox 35 camera – one jumped out my my pocket while cycling (and was replaced on insurance), another needed servicing and I was offered the GT at around half price when Leitz couldn’t get the parts.

It wasn’t an ideal camera. The viewfinder isn’t exactly precise, the simple auto-exposure was easily fooled (though all 36 on this film are reasonably exposed) and the two-stroke film lever had little leverage and could rip your thumb. Scale focus would be a problem for some people, though in good light the 35mm usually gave enough depth of field to cover my guesses. But it was a camera the size of a pack of twenty fags and as I’d long since given up smoking there was always room for it in my pocket.

But it had a 35mm lens. For years I worked almost entirely with that focal length, both on Leica and Olympus SLR, and it is a fine focal length. But sometimes it just isn’t wide enough and at others – like this – it is too wide. Fortunately on this occasion I was quick to seize the chance and take a picture without trying to move in, as I would then have missed it – as the next frame shows the back of her head. Though on the 35EL, the next frame would have been several seconds later at best.

Hers was a costume that suited her, and the unruly hair (a typical July day in Staines there was some wind and rain) made me think of those subjects pressed into submission by Julia Margaret Cameron.

I don’t like to crop pictures, and this is perhaps why I don’t think I’ve ever shown this one. Or perhaps I couldn’t decide on the crop. Here’s how I finally decided to make it.


Nigeria and Shaker

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

I have to admit I got the story slightly wrong when I first uploaded Repeal Nigeria’s anti-LGBTI laws, thanks to mis-reading the press release that was sent to me by the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Although what I think were the main details about the protest- the who, what, where, when and why – were correct, I hadn’t correctly identified the organiser of the protest, at least not in the text, as Nigerian lesbian activist Aderonke Apata, wearing a green top in the picture above with the message ‘President Buhari Repeal Anti Same-Sex Law in Nigeria –  Respect LGBTs’ Human Rights – Freedom for LGBTs in Nigeria – African Rainbow Family.’ It was a sweat-shirt that was almost a press release in itself, and rather too wordy to make a good photograph.

My initial text had given credit to two other groups taking part, Peter Tatchell with members of his Foundation and the Out And Proud Diamond Group. There were also people from Care2, whose petition had gained 65,000 member signatures along with a second Causes petition with over 8,000.

The pictures I think tell the story of the protest quite well, and certainly show Apata’s leading role in the protest. The image at the top was quite tricky to make, partly because of strong sunlight flaring around the corner of the embassy; Peter Tatchell’s head conveniently acted as a ‘flag’ to block much of this, though needing quite considerable ‘antiflare’ treatment in post-processing. As well as including Apata with some helpful cropping of her shirt’s message to the purpose of the protest ‘President Buhari Repeal Anti Same-Sex Law in Nigeria’ I wanted the arms of Nigeria which are in the top of the Embassy door behind her.

A little post-processing was also needed to make those more clear in the final result – reflections in glass are always less distinct in camera images than to our eyes, which perform some pretty sophisticated processing beyond the capabilities of Lightroom which enable us to separate surface from reflection, in part involving distance perception which almost disappears in the camera image.

Things turned a little to farce when the protesters attempted to deliver the petition. During the protest people had been taking deliveries in through the front door and coming out. Ringing on the bell got little response – except perhaps a voice saying that no one was in. The protesters went to the door where people were still entering and leaving around the side of the building – and were told by the security staff they should take the petition to the front door.

They then tried the middle door – but again could get nobody to take it, and went again to the front door.  I had to leave them to go elsewhere  as they were deciding to leave the boxes on the step.

A short distance away something of a celebration was taking place opposite Downing St after news had at last been given of Shaker Aamer’s eventual release from Guantamo. ‘Bring him back Now’! the protesters shouted; after all he had been cleared for release back in 2007, and had been held without charge or trial there since St Valentines Day 2002.

The supporters of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, whose Chair Joy Hurcombe I caught hiding her embarrassment in the image above as she was being introduced, were overjoyed at the news – and at getting back the lunchtimes every week they have spent standing in a vigil at Parliament every Wednesday it is in session, are still very much aware of the need to keep up protest for the roughly a hundred detainees still held there who have no UK connection. Monthly protests by the London Guantanamo Campaign – which many of them also attend- will continue at the US Embassy until all have been released.

The protesters were also aware that part of the delay in releasing Shaker is to give right wing pressure groups – like the Henry Jackson Foundation – time to spread misleading lies about him, including entirelyunrelieable ‘evidence’ obtained under torture. There was never any real evidence to hold, charge or try him. Many in the media will also help in spreading rumours and falsehood in an attempt to counter the stories that Shaker is expected to tell about what actually happened to him in Guantanamo and the complicity in his torture of both US and UK security agencies.

But photographically my problem was in photographing a man who was absent but at the centre of these events. There wasn’t even the giant inflatable Shaker from some earlier events – it was at a protest taking place the same day outside the White House.  It was solved when one of the protesters put a new ‘Bring Home Shaker Aamer’ t-shirt on the trolley carrying the sound system. Its bright colour and curve around the handles, helped by a little wind almost made it float in the picture, like Shaker Aamer’s ghost. At least in my imagination.

Making Pictures

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

I remember talking with one of the UK’s leading advertising photographers perhaps 30 years ago about the problems of working with advertising directors, and how they would often present him with briefs that were quite impossible to shoot, requiring him to be pointing his camera in opposite derctions at the same time, combining views from very different places or those taken with and ultra-wide and a super-telephoto. Things which had been easy on the AD’s sketchpad were not always so simple in reality. Sometimes, thanks to the superb skills of London’s retouchers in those almost entirely pre-digital days, things could be achieved using multiple exposures, but often what really earned him his money was the long slow business of getting the AD to believe that what was achievable in camera was really what he had wanted after all.

It isn’t a problem I’ve ever had to deal with (though I have a few times been asked by editors for the impossible) but I do often find myself struggling over the tension between recording events in an accurate fashion and producing interesting pictures – although of course trying to combine the two.

I try to avoid the ‘newspaper cliches’ which often involve setting up an attractive person (or better still a ‘celebrity’) with an obvious prop – and of course will not set up such pictures, though I have sometimes taken advantage of them when set up by others – though with a caption that clearly indicates their nature and generally looking for a different view. At some protests where the organisers know me I’ve been asked for advice on what photographers would like, and have always been reluctant to give more than the most general of suggestions, perhaps about setting up something in the shade or with a particular building such as the Houses of Parliament in the background. I’m there as a journalist and not an organiser.

Protest organisers often come up with ideas that don’t seem to translate well or easily into images, and many pictures of protests reflect this. It’s seldom the organised picture opportunities that produce interesting images, though picture editors seem often to prefer these.

But sometimes a little action makes things spring to life, as when the Hashem Shabani Action Group began to stamp on photographs of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or a woman points her finger accusingly at the poster she is holding comparing the Islamic Republic as ‘Like ISIS, Only Bigger’.

There were a few other little moments I caught at this protest that amused me, including one of a man rushing late to the AGM of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce putting on his tie as he runs around the end of the protest.

The huge banner covered with red and blue hand-prints carried horizontally by supporters of British Sign Language at the protest by deaf and disabled people and their supporters at the cutting of the DWP’s Access to Work scheme was also something of a challenge. I’d liked the way it showed the shadows of the people standing behind it and taken quite a few pictures as they got ready to march. Later I’d tried to catch it with Big Ben in the background as the marchers went down the side of Parliament Square, but wasn’t really happy until Big Ben was almost out of sight.

I left the Access to Work protesters to rush off to Grow Heathrow at Sipson, where the Harvest Festival celebrations included an open meeting on the expansion of Heathrow. Its only a few miles – across the airport – from where I live and something I’ve been involved with since birth. Long before that we had more sense, and in 1920 closed down London’s first commercial airport – on Hounslow Heath just a few yards from where my father used to live – because there area was too often subject to fogs, and Croydon became the site of London’s Airport. We managed to close that too in 1959, though meanwhile London Airport had come back almost to Hounslow with a huge airport across the orchards, farms and market gardens of Heathrow, using a wartime emergency requisition order to avoid any public inquiry – which might well have ruled against it.

By 1966 questions were being asked in Parliament calling for the closure of Heathrow, and several commissions and inquiries have been set up since, most recently the Davies commission, which cunningly sifted out the most suitable alternatives before going on to its final detailed considerations.

This was also a discussion in which I took part, asking several questions and making a few short contributions which perhaps went past journalistic objectivity. Discussions are seldom easy things to take lively images of, and I was quite pleased with what I managed to show both of that discussion and of Grow Heathrow, though I was disappointed not to have time to stay for the free six course vegan meal.

Sunflowers and Serwotka

Monday, February 15th, 2016

D810 28-200mm at 28mm (42mm) 1/800s, f/11, ISO 800

I’ve long admired union leader Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, the trade union for British civil servants. I’ve heard him speaking sense at many events, and was shocked to hear of the sudden mystery illness in 2010 that had come close to killing him and left him being kept alive by a pacemaker and later permanently hooked up to a ventricular assist device. Despite all this he has kept on working and supporting his members.

When first elected in 2000 the retiring General Secretary refused to step down and it took a legal battle in the High Court to get him in post. Since then he has won three further elections, unopposed in two of them. In 2000 he had promised only to take the average civil servants salary and apparently still returns a proportion of his pay to the union.

D810 28-200mm at 70mm (105mm) 1/500s, f/9, ISO 800

He was the main speaker at an event to mark 100 days of strike by gallery assistants at the London National Gallery, against privatisation and the victimisation of PCS Union Rep Candy Udwin. To mark this were three strikers each carrying a digit of the number ‘100’; the ‘1’ was rather ordinary but the two zeros each used the sunflower motif taken by the strikers from one of the Gallery’s most famous images, with a hole in the centre.

D810 28-200 at 38mm (57mm) 1/500s, f/9, ISO 800

As soon as I saw this I moved around the circle of people listening to the speeches trying to make use of it as a framing device. Getting into exactly the right position to use one of the ‘0’s behind Mark’s head was a little tricky, not least as he moved a little while speaking. I quite liked my first attempt (or at least the first I got it right) but felt I could do more, though getting to the exact height needed was a little of a strain on my knees.

Next I tried to get a frame that showed him and the other two digits, but this was tricky as people were standing a little too close in to show the whole of the ‘1’, and I didn’t quite think it worked.

D700 16-35mm at 26mm 1/400s, f/10, ISO 800, slight crop

I used a wider view to include Candy Udwin as well and was quite please by this.

D810 28-200mm at 70mm (105mm eq) 1/500s, f/9, ISO 800

Then tried again, tightly cropping the two ‘0’s. Really I would have liked the guy at right to be more central in the aperture, but I couldn’t manage this.

I’m not entirely sure of the order in which I took these images, as I was working with two cameras, the Nikon D700 and D810 and hadn’t synchronised the clocks for a while. I think I altogether took around 30 images on each, a total of around 60 or 70 in a little under three minutes before the guys holding the figure took a rest and put them down on the pavement. A few frames were ruined by blinking or flags or placards coming into the scene, but most are simply slight variations of those above. I like when I can to push each idea until I’m sure I’ve got what I want – or the opportunity disappears.

Around the final frame I made of the scene is the one at the top of this post and my favourite of the set. It’s the widest view and the sun was causing me some problems – though was also the reason why the other photographers at the event weren’t standing where I was.  It takes a little work in post to reduce the flare in the image. But I liked the bus going past with people watching from the top, and telling us that this was London, and the placard at top left with its message of what the protest was about.


My Valentine

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

I’m sorry that I won’t feel well enough to attend the Reclaim Love Valentine Party I’ve been to at least a part of every year’s celebration since 2005, when Venus Cumara organised it around the statue of Eros for the first time (the previous year that I’d missed it had been in Trafalgar Square and I was in Paris.)

We were back there in 2006:

And for a rather smaller event in 2007 without Venus:

But Venus was back and spraying love around the area in 2008:

2009 was another good year,

And 2010

In 2011 Venus took everyone – around 250 people – to the ring of trees in Green Park and the police were not amused.

I left early in 2012 when torrential rain threatened to flood my cameras, but not before joining in the fun and taking quite a few pictures

I was late for the party in 2013 having been with friends who were blocking Whitehall but not too late:

And in 2014, things seemed to start rather slowly but I was sorry I had to rush away:

Last year was another good year:

and I’ll be sorry to miss this year’s event, but I probably shouldn’t go a spread my germs to everyone even if I do feel fit enough to make it.

But I’ll miss the ‘bands, dancing and a “Massive Healing Reclaim Love Meditation Circle beaming Love and Happiness and our Vision for world peace out into the cosmos“. We could certainly do with peace and should I make a miraculous recovery I’ll be there with the rest at 6pm in time for the World Peace Meditation at 6.30pm chanting ‘May All The Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy & At Peace’.