Archive for November, 2019

Mayfair Mayhem

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

I don’t like going to Mayfair. Too much conspicuous consumption on display, too much affluence and waste. It isn’t envy – mostly I wouldn’t want those excessively expensive things you see in shops and through windows, nor the expensive menus etc. I’m largely a man of simple tastes, and happier to share expensive works of art in the National Gallery rather than hang them on my own private wall.

In part its the people. Though I’ve known and liked some who are wealthy there are too many who are obnoxious, who look on the people who work for them as dirt, or just couldn’t give a jot about others. Of course there are poor people who are obnoxious too, but generally in ways that are less obtrusive.

Clubs like LouLou’s with a ‘exclusive’ tag and a membership (in 2017) of £1,800 and described by a fawning article on the Observer website as “the place to be for royals, billionaires, A-list celebrities and socialites” seems to be a magnet for the uncaring and obnoxious, run by the son of Lady Annabel Goldsmith who has given more than £268,000 to Nigel Farage’s UKIP and donated £20,000 to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign.

But despite this huge wealth, LouLou’s pays its kitchen porters a pittance, and the IWGB has been supporting their claim for the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour and for decent terms and conditions of service such as sick pay. Currenly the porters who are mainly migrant workers get only £9 per hour. This was I think their second protest outside the club.

Henry Chango-Lopez, President of the IWGB, said:
“It is unfair that the porters who allow billionaires to wine and dine in luxury and secrecy are left hung out to dry. The porters can see straight through 5 Hertford Street’s bribes and know that outsourcing will only lead to further exploitation. The restaurant needs to give justice to its workers and put them all under the same banner.”

https://iwgb.org.uk/en/post/5cf8f67de9521/iwgb-demands-end-to-poverty

I think it was a genuine accident when police knocked one of the protesters to the ground, an officer walking backward into him. But the whole attitude of the police was deferential to the club owners, their security men and guests but hostile towards the protesters, two of whom were arrested.

More at IWGB demand living wage at LouLou’s .


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Robert Frank’s London

Friday, November 29th, 2019

I’ve long been an admirer of Robert Frank’s pictures taken in London, and you can see a fine selection of these in the feature Extraordinary Black And White Photographs Of London In The Early 1950s.

There are at least two videos paging through the book London Wales on You Tube, and I recommend that by Алексей Гуменюк only because I think he is a better page-turner, though his commentary and the sound track perhaps add a certain charm – but you can turn the sound off if it annoys you. Of course if you have read my earlier thoughts on the book or otherwise bought it you can turn the pages yourself. It’s better.

Frank’s London is a city (and City) long lost, with men in bowler hats and men carrying sacks of coal, both enshrouded by the pea-soupers which the coal produced (and in the second part of the book, he goes to photograph the men who mined it.)

Thankfully those days of almost solid air in London are long gone, though I can just remember them. But appearances are deceptive and London’s air is still toxic, leading to huge amounts of miserable illness and an estimated almost 10,000 early deaths each year, with levels of pollutants typically well above the EU legal limits in many streets and schoolyards.

The City too has changed, though still equally toxic. We no longer have an Empire – it had already begun to disappear when Frank coughed his way through those streets, but neo-colonialism has replaced colonialism, and many of the world’s most toxic companies – for example in mining – are still London based, and the City is the money laundering capital of the world.

Merchants of Death

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

At the end of the month that this protest tour took place, the UK government issued its UK Defence & Security Export Statistics for 2018. These revealed that UK arms sales in 2018 amounted to £14bn, making the UK the world’s second biggest arms exporters, with around half the sales of the USA. Britain had 19% – almost a fifth of global arms sales – well ahead in 2018 of competitors Russia at 14% and France with 9%.

Most UK sales are to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE in particular purchasing large quantities of UK arms. Over the 10 year period covered by the report, the Middle East accounted for 60% of UK arms sales, though in 2018 it was around 77%. One factor in that increase was the war in Yemen.

According to CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade),

The UK has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015.

The weapon categories include approximately:
£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
£1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

https://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/stop-arming-saudi/arms-sales

UK weapons used in Yemen include Typhoon and Tornado aircraft and ALARM missiles from BAE systems, Paveway bombs from Raytheon, PGM500 bombs and Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles from MBDA as well as UK-made cluster bombs which were exported from the UK in the 1980s. There are more details about the companies currently exporting arms to Saudi Arabia on the CAAT site.

As well as protesting, CAAT took the government to court over British-made arms being used in Yemen, and on 20th June 2019 the Court of Appeal ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen was unlawful. The government are fighting this decision, taking it to the Supreme Court but had to apologise in September for “inadvertantly” breaking the ban over two export licences.

I joined the tour late after being held up by overcrowding led to a slow queue to get into the tube station and then down to the platforms due to Pride, and the crowds around Lower Regent Street made it impossible for the tour to visit the offices of Lockheed Martin. But I was present for the visits to G4S, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, as well as for the speeches about Lockheed Martin – with each company being presented with a ‘blue plaque’ for their sins.

The highlight of the tour was the stop outside Buckingham Palace, where the plaque (complete with spelling mistake) was simply for their support of King Hamad in his violent repression of the people of Bahrain. But in the speeches we heard how the Royal Family played an important role with their visits backing arms sales around the world. Prince Andrew has been in the news recently for other reasons, but here was singled out for his services, in arms sales to corrupt regimes. Since it wasn’t possible to approach Buckingham Palace more closely, the blue plaque for the palace was left on the Victoria Monument facing it.

More from the tour at London’s Sinister Arms Trade


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Pride should be a Protest

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

After around 20 years of photographing the annual Pride in London I decided I had had enough. As I’ve written often before, Pride has moved from being a protest for gay rights to becoming a corporate jolly, and this year charging entry fees that have prevented many of the more radical groups from taking part officially.

So this year I didn’t bother to apply for accreditation to cover Pride, something which has become more or less essential in recent years. And later I heard that Pride had tried to refuse accreditation to many press photographers as well as more or less banning those they did accredit from where they would be able to make decent pictures. After a great deal of aggravation and complaints from the NUJ and BPPA there were some compromises, but many colleagues decided to have a day off this year.

Two years ago instead of covering the official march I’d gone with the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc who had tried to join in the event and when they were refused had held up Pride and then marched along the route ahead of the official event. And last year I’d gone into the suburbs while Pride was taking place for a march celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS and against plans to close acute facilities at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals in south London.

For 2019 I decided that there were two events I wanted to cover, one completely unrelated to Pride, but the other the Queer Liberation March in protest against the increasing corporate nature of Pride which was planning to march at the end of the official parade.

This was meeting in Regent’s Park, where some of those taking part in the official event were also gathering, and at first it was difficult to tell the two groups apart. Gradually as some left to take up their place in Pride things became clearer, and it also became clear that I was in for a very long wait before anything was going to happen as Pride was moving only very slowly.

I’m not good at waiting, and decided to go and join the unrelated event, intending to return later. My journey took me much longer than expected because of the crowds for Pride, and by the time I had finished photographic the second event I was feeling tired and could not be bothered to return to find the group from Regent’s Park.

It was a poor decision, as the Queer Liberation March turned out to be rather interesting. Pride stewards tried to stop them marching along the parade route and there were scuffles with stewards and police, before police decided that they must be allowed to continue. My colleague who had stayed and waited with them got some really interesting pictures and I had missed the fun.

More at Pride is a Protest


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Kids march for more school

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Whatever is wrong with modern children? I just cannot imagine myself at primary school protesting at getting an extra half-day off school. We would have cheered.

Of course parents are likely to be upset. Having to find some way to look after their offspring on a Friday afternoon when in most families both parents will be at work. It must be bad enough having to make arrangements for the school holidays without this extra burden,

While I was teaching we did get the occasional day where school closed and we were sent home early, and I think we were generally rather pleased, particularly if it was a day when we were down to teach 3G last period. Though I suppose we might have got a little concerned if it were happening on a regular basis, and particularly for some of the classes who were nearing their GCSE or A level exams – and I think there were some times when these exam classes remained for lessons when others left early.

But now of course we have exams at every level, the dreaded SATs, starting in the May of Year 2, when children are only 7. Some schools add to the training in terror by making them take ‘optional SATs’ at the end of every year there isn’t a real SAT test (the next one comes for 11 year olds in Year 6.)

And teachers, particularly head teachers, are of course concerned about the results, as they place their school in the league tables. So concerned that although they only take place for a short period the SATs have come to dominate the whole year’s work in most of our schools. Schools that want to be seen as successful have had to change their whole ethos to “teach for the tests.” It shouldn’t be so.

It was of course a fiction that children were not tested before the SATs. At secondary level children came to us with the results of properly standarised tests from the NFER, tests that were adminstered with none of the anguish and stress of the SATs, which were used to diagnose a pupil’s needs and not to judge schools and which were considerably more useful and reliable, and were not the tail wagging the dog of the school.

As parents, we sent our children to the local schools. The primary school they both went to was a happy school and well run. It tried to continue that way when the SATs came in (fortunately after our children had gone on to the local secondary) but the results of the first year were miserable compared to the other local schools that had drilled their children for the exams from the start, and they were forced to change.

This protest, though I think driven by exam pressures, was not about getting rid of the exams but about funding. Schools have suffered under austerity, and those in the more difficult areas have suffered more than those with wealthier parents, though even those have problems. Parents associations which used to raise funds for extras are now having to do so for essentials, and parents in many schools are now asked for ‘voluntary contributions’ to our free education system. Though with various reforms by both New Labour and Tories we hardly have a system, more a mess.

This protest, like so many schools, was also funded by voluntary contributions, crowdfunding led by Labour MP Jess Phillips who also led the children along Whitehall to Downing St.

Give Me Five days


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Carnaby St show

Monday, November 25th, 2019

A few years ago as I was walking down Regent Street, a German tourist stopped me and asked me the way to Carnaby St. I told him he needed a time machine to go back 40 years before more helpfully pointing out the right direction.

But last Saturday I went back there for a quick look at a celebration of an event only 30 years ago, on the windows of a shop called Size?

This is a temporary display, for one week only, tracing a little of the history of a trainer, the apparently iconic Nike Air Max 90 introduced in 1990 and since with many variations, and back in 1990 I made a picture in Notting Hill in which the trainer can be clearly seen.

You can see that picture, along with two others from Notting Hill on the shop front, and also on a large screen inside the store.

My favourite of the three images is this line of girls beside a sound system on a lorry going down Ladbroke Grove. You can see these two and others in my contribution to the 2008 show, English Carnival.

The third of my images – in the picture above both on the store front and rather blue on a screen inside – is one that didn’t feture either in the 2008 show or in my recent Café Royal Book on Notting Hill, and I think may not have been published before.

All three images I think embody something of the spirit of carnival, and I was pleased to see them being used – also in some online posts and a printed catalogue from Size?.

Readers of this post who have access to academic journals on line may like to read the article Notting Hill in Carnival which features 20 of my Notting Hill pictures with text by George Mentore them (including one of those here) as well as a more general article.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


French Police brutality

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Unlike many of my colleagues I’ve seldom photographed protests in France, although it’s a relatively short journey to Paris from London on Eurostar. There are several reasons why I’ve not done so, and expense is one of them, as I would be unlikely to cover the fare from the meagre fees that I normally get for use of images, so as a freelance it would make little sense to go. But even where I to be offered a commission I would almost certainly turn it down.

I have on a few occasions when I’ve been in Paris attended protests and photographed them, but I’ve never been happy doing so and have usually found good reason to leave after a short time. All those other photographers dressed in helmets and full battle gear are a little off-putting when your only head protection is a woolly hat.

I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to wear a helmet, or shin pads or kevlar vests or any of the other gear that some photographers sensibly wear to protect themselves from protesters, projectiles and police, and instead to simply keep clear as best I can of situations where these are de rigueur – which more or less rules out covering most French protests. Just occasionally I’ve had to retreat a little from the front line at some London protests too, but fortunately things seldom get so heated.

There have been times when I’ve had to dodge bricks and stones and other projectiles from protesters but most actual violence I’ve suffered has been by police who have knocked me flying, thrown me to the ground, pushed and punched me. But our police are easy-going compared to “les keufs”, who on one notable occasion in 1961 killed a couple of hundred (the exact number is not know) of Algerian protesters, beating many of them before throwing them into the Seine.

Today’s protest in front of the French Embassy was over an incident the previous weekend at a bridge over that same river in Paris. Extinction Rebellion protesters who had sat down in the roadway on the Pont de Sully were pepper-sprayed in their faces at close range causing burns; they pulled the sunglasses from one protester to spray directly into the eyes. Others were injured by being dragged forcefully across the road.

An eye-witness spoke at the protest describing what he had seen and heard, though most of those taking part had already seen and been incensed by videos of the attack posted on social media. They protesters then learnt several of the French chants and songs that the XR protesters had been singing on the Pont de Sully.

Finally there was a theatrical re-enactment of the incident, with protesters sitting on the roadway being sprayed with water by white-coated ‘police’. It was rather chaotic and difficult to photograph and it proved very tricky to actually capture water being sprayed

More pictures at Protest French police attack on XR.


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.



XR Carmen says cut Carbon

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

On the day that BP were sponsoring a Royal Opera House performance of Carmen to be relayed to 13 BP big screens in UK cities, including Trafalgar Square in London, Extinction Rebellion put on their ‘Carbon Procession’.

This procession, led by a woman dressed as carbon with a long black train to resemble an oil slick and followed by people with XR flags and a samba band made its way around the London offices of oil companies in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) urging them to abandon the pretence they can combat global warming without a huge cut in oil production.

Although the Carmen leading the procession only spoke rather than sang, the protesters were joined by a woman with an incredible voice who performed some of the arias, accompanied by an unusual but effective orchestra of bassoon and piano accordian at the stops in front of the company offices.

The protesters also delivered copies of the XR handbook published by Penguin, ‘This Is Not A Drill’ to the offices, although they were not allowed to go inside to present it. Some of the activists also used bright yellow ‘Crime Tape’ with the message ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Cross’ to make the hour-glass X from the middle of the XR symbol on the pavement outside each of the offices.

The procession had obviously taken a great deal of preparation and attracted some attention. The lengthy walk was soon well behind schedule and after performances outside multinational oil and gas company ENI, on a street corner near Victoria and the China National Petroleum Corporation took a long rest in Hyde Park, which though necessary for some, didn’t help. It missed the next planned stop, I think walking past by accident, and by the time it had protested outside Saudi Aramco it was time for me to leave. The protesters still had two more oil companies to visit and were ending the procession at BP head office in St James’s Square before going on to protest at the screening in Trafalgar Square.

More at XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession


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.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Shock treatment

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

I hadn’t really realised what I was letting myself in for when I went to photograph a protest by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights against the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (they call it ‘Electroshock treatment’.)

For once I hadn’t done my research, but had just seen the Facebook event page and thought that it might be interesting and the weather was good and I wanted to get out and away from the computer. Had I followed normal practice and done a few seconds of research on the CCHR I might have found something else to do on that Monday afternoon.

Although I’ve never had electrical shock treatment myself, it is something I’ve had some personal involvement with as family members have suffered from it – though now in the distant past, and they are long dead. But I’m convinced they were permanently harmed by it.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was carried out rather more crudely (and certainly more cruelly) than now, with larger currents and often if not usually without anaesthetic. I find it hard to understand why such random and often harmful practice was ever allowed to be used on patients with little or no understanding or real research and am convinced that though they survived the treatment it was a factor which led to early deaths of some of my family members.

Here’s something the BMJ wrote in an introduction to a debate in their pages earlier this year (the full article is only available to subscribers)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) involves sending an electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure. The treatment is given under general anaesthetic with muscle relaxants, so the body does not convulse during the seizure.
No-one is entirely sure how it works, but it is thought to change the way brain cells interact in parts of the brain involved in depression. ECT use in the UK continues to fall, but remains controversial.

https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/should-we-stop-using-electroconvulsive-therapy/

What a few seconds of research after the event revealed is that the CCHR is a part of the Church of Scientology, an cult that engages in its own form of brainwashing and which I want nothing to do with. An article in The Atlantic describes the CCHR as “a subsidiary (of the Church of Scientology ) whose sole aim is to discredit and dismantle the field of psychiatry” and its author looks at the “classic propaganda techniques” it uses.

[You can read more about Scientology (if you need to) on Wikipedia and in the 1991 Time Magazine exposé, The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power. ]

I had realised there was something rather odd about the event as I sat waiting for the protesters to gather and the protest to begin at Potter’s Fields next to Tower Bridge. And my doubts were reinforced as I listened to Brian Daniels, Executive Director of CCHR, giving out precise instructions for the protest. There was just something entirely corporate about the whole event, even in the firm handshake and confident gaze of Daniels as he welcomed me to the event. It just wasn’t like a normal protest.

Despite my doubts I decided to go ahead and photograph the event as I would any other protest and you can see more pictures at End Inhuman Electroshock treatment.

Paris Pictures

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Sometime in July 2017 I stopped getting my daily e-mail from l’oeil de la photographie – The Eye of Photography and though I missed it, soon forget to rejoin their free mailing list, which I’ve now done as I write this.

A post on Facebook linking to the site today, reminded me of what I have been missing, as well as to the end of the oldest photo agency in Paris, Roger-Viollet. Founded in 1938 by two “passionate photographers”, Hélène Roger-Viollet and her husband Jean-Victor Fischer it remained at its premises at 6, rue de Seine until now. After the founders deaths in 1985 they left the business and its huge collections to the City of Paris, and in 2005 it became a part of the local public company the Parisienne de Photographie, distributing works from the unique Roger-Viollet collection of nearly 4 million negatives and 2 million prints as well as those from the huge collections of many Parisian museums as well as some foreign historical collections in France and several independent photographers.

You can get an idea of the range of their work from their web site, though it may not remain on the web long. It truly is a remarkable collection, particularly of photographs of Paris from the 19th and 20th century. I particularly enjoyed looking at the pictures from the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris.

As ‘l’oeil‘ says, the city council of Paris voted to close the Parisienne de Photographie on November 15th because of its large losses, incurred in part by the costs of digitising the huge image collection. Surprisingly the collection has been handed to a private company which does not publish its accounts, NLDR, rather than a public company or state institution.

The article also states that ‘the museums and libraries of the City of Paris will soon adopt the “open content”, that is to say the free availability of images‘ though I can’t understand why this should make NLDR a more appropriate choice. It now has been given an already digitised collection with an annual turnover of over a million euros and a public grant of 482 000 € to exploit.

What worried me rather when I ‘Googled’ “Roger-Viollet” was that “roger viollet getty images” came up several suggestions above the actual agency. Getty gets everywhere, and has had a disastrous effect on lowering image prices, not just for agencies but also for photographers. It is the basic reason that so many other agencies have already disappeared – and for the pathetically low reproduction fees now paid by most publications.

The Eye of Photography is a bilingual site, and one where I always find much of interest whenever I visit – and today was no exception (and it delayed writing this post considerably.) I look forward to receiving their daily e-mails.