Archive for August, 2022

DPAC End Week of Protest Against Atos

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

DPAC End Week of Protest Against Atos: In August 2012 Disabled People Against the Cuts and UK Uncut organised the week of action as a protest against the sick spectacle of Atos, the company who pressures its staff to unfairly declare disabled people ‘fit for work’ so as to increase its profits and meet government targets, bathing in the glory of sponsoring the Paralympic games. The week ended with two protests on Friday 31st August.

Closing Atos Ceremony – Triton Square

Protests earlier in the week had included a spoof Paralympic opening ceremony next to Tower Bridge, then decorated with a giant paralympic symbol hanging from its upper level, a vigil at Westminster and a memorial service outside the Atos head office to remember the people who have lost their lives at the hands of Atos Healthcare. There had been protests too in other cities – with 40 protesters as corpses in the road stopping traffic, and at the actual Paralympic opening many of the contestants covered up the Atos name on their lanyards as a protest against their involvement as sponsors.

Among those protesting earlier in the week was Tara Flood, a former Paralympian who represented GB at three Paralympic games and whose gold-medal winning time at the 1992 Barcelona games remains a world record. She reflected the feeling of many disabled people when she stated: “It is a shocking irony that Atos is a main sponsor of London 2012 whilst destroying disabled people’s lives on behalf of the government.”

Over 500 came to Atos’s offices in Triton Square for a peaceful protest at the end of the week on Friday 31st August 2012. It had a festival atmosphere, with music and dancing, poppers, brightly coloured plastic water pistols and some fancy dress along the the usual banners and placards, but there was no mistaking the anger against Atos, evident in the slogans on the placards and chants of ‘Atos Kills!’

The target-driven computer-based work capability assessments delivered by Atos cause extreme hardship and misery to many disabled – and death to some. Last year 1,100 claimants died after Atos tests placed them on compulsory work-related activity to gain benefits, and others found ‘fit for work’ and so left without income have committed or attempted suicide.

Among conditions that Atos tests have found to have no bearing on fitness for work have been fatal heart conditions, terminal breast and kidney cancer and severe MS.

In one long street theatre performance disabled people who truly wanted to be freed of their disabilities were urged by ‘Atos’s own Reverend’ to come forward and go through the ‘Atos Miracle Cure’ archway, and several, mainly in wheelchairs, did so. Nothing seemed to happen to them, and they were disappointed, even after the ‘Rev’ had blessed them and patted them on the head, but then an ‘Atos doctor’ in a white coat came to assess them, and lo! she gave them each a certificate that they were now fit to work, and, even more miraculous, a job. But it was all a con!

By the time the ceremony ended I had left and was making my way to the Department of Work and Pensions offices, Caxton House, in Westminster, having been tipped off that disabled activists had entered and occupied them.

More at Closing Atos Ceremony.

DPAC Occupy Dept of Work & Pensions – Westminster

Traffic was heavy in London – I should have taken the tube. By the time I arrived there were around 20 or so protesters outside with banners in front of the entrance. Behind them were a block of around a dozen police in several rows in the fairly narrow outer lobby, and behind them I could see more police and a few protesters.

Shortly after me more arrived from the event outside the Atos offices, including quite a few in wheelchairs and formed a fairly large crowd, spilling out into the street.

Adam Lotun and spoke briefly about the reasons for the week of actions against Atos and announcing the struggle would continue and as a part of that he would be standing in the Corby by-election.

A few late arrivals tried to push past the police to join those already in the building, but as well as police there were people in wheelchairs and the media in their way and they had little chance of success. The situation became rather confused, but soon police reinforcements arrived and pushed the crowd back a few yards away from the doorway.

Racist Thugs Not Welcome 2014

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

On 30th August 2014 I went to Kilburn and Cricklewood, where the far-right South East Alliance had annnounced they would protest at some empty offices they claimed were used as a recruiting centre by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a Sunni Islamist religious, political, and social movement largely based in Egypt whose candidate Mohamed Morsi was became the first to be elected as Egypt’s president in 2012, but was deposed by the military after massive popular protests a year later. The MB was then declared a terrorist group and Morsi was tried and sentenced to death. He was retried after that trial was overturned and died during his second trial, possibly due to being denied medical care.

A few other countries also declared the MB a terrorist group, but it had few members in the UK, though some of its supporters set up a ‘global information centre’ here in 1999 which I think operated from this small first floor ‘World Media Offices’ in Cricklewood. In 2014 Prime Minister David Cameron set up an investigation into its alleged terrorist activities, and the office closed down, moving its activities to Austria. The investigation reported that the MB had not been linked to terrorist related activity against the UK and had condemned the activities of Al-Qaeda in the UK.

My bus to Cricklewood took me along the route of the march planned by the South East Alliance (S.E.A.) from Kilburn Underground Station, and I saw a number of police vans and motorbikes waiting for the event to start. There were a group of around 50 people and quite a few banners for groups in North West London United ready to oppose the S.E.A. march and tell them that fascists and racists were not welcome. I made a few pictures before taking the bus back to Kilburn station.

The station had been closed in anticipation of trouble there, but there are two stations on other lines a short walk away. Eventually 4 people arrived with a megaphone and flags, including Paul Pitt, leader of the S. E. A. and former Essex organiser for the English Defence League, who apparently expelled him two years earlier which led to him forming the S. E. A.

It was a rather embarassing situation with so few people present, and Pitt recognised me from previous exteme-right events I had photographed – which had led to threats against me in person and on-line. Although my photographs tried to show these events objectively, that was perhaps the problem so far as they were concerned. But there were plenty of police around.

Eventually the march set off, with the three men leading it and a woman walking more slowly with the aid of a stick completing the group some yards behind.

At Cricklewood the anti-fascists were waiting, with a line of police across the road to keep the two groups apart. Police were also surrounding and protecting a handful of S. E. A. supporters who had come directly to the end of the protest, and there were a few scuffles and arrests as anti-fascists tried to reach them.

Police stopped Paul Pitts small group of marchers and held them on a corner a short distance away. For a while it seemed he was being arrested, but then more officers arrived and he was told his protest would be facilitated.

I returned to the other small S. E. A. group surrounded by police. While some of them were busy photographing police and myself and other photographers and trying to stop us taking pictures others were holding up banners and posters and demanding we photograph them.

In front of the former office the anti-fascist protesters were continuing with speeches and shouting against the S. E. A. and I saw police make at least one more arrest, though it was unclear why. I think they may have objected at some of the language used.

Then I saw some flags approaching along a side road, still several hundred yards away and rushed down to meet them. Another group of S. E. A. supporters was arriving, perhaps bringing the total number to around 50. Police arrived there just before me and stopped them.

As I took photographs these protesters at first began to hold flags in front of my lens then used the long canes holding the flags as weapons, trying to poke the photographers in their eyes. Eventually police escorted them to join the other S.E.A. protesters where they continued to try to attack photographers with their flag sticks.

Police eventually did react to the violent attacks with flags – by forcing photographers to move further away. By this time I was fed up with being insulted and attacked – and in any case people on both sides were drifting away and nothing much more seemed likely to happen. The road had now been reopened and I saw a bus coming and made for the nearest stop to make my way home.

More at South East Alliance ‘Racist Thugs Not Welcome’.

Notting Hill Carnival 2004

Monday, August 29th, 2022

If you live in or near London there is a fairly good chance that you will be among the millions on the streets of Notting Hill today, although people sometimes come long distances for London’ and possibly Europe’s biggest festival. Many years ago I remember being a little surprised to see a poster advertising the event in St Denis on a visit to Paris, though post-Brexit it may be a little more difficult to travel here.

Although I’ve lived in the London area for most of the years carnival has been running, it was only around 1990 that I first went and experienced it. I’d probably been put off by the bad press it usually got, with the media making much of the crimes and battles with the police that occasionally took place.

But given the number of people attending and the relatively high level of policing the number of arrests at least in recent years is relatively low – and as a Huffington Post investigation into police figures shows, fairly similar to Glastonbury taking into account the number of people attending. In 2019 the number of arrests was dominated by those for drug offences, two thirds of the total, and relatively few for violent incidents, some of which were almost certainly simply reactions to heavy-handed policing. 23 years after the Macpherson report our police are still institutionally racist and certainly Cressida Dick did little to change that – we can only hope Sir Mark Rowley will do a better job, but my hopes are not high.

I’m not sure how many days I’ve spent at carnival over the years, but it is probably around 30, and I’ve yet to see any violence. Of course I’ve been offered drugs, though probably rather less frequently than in some other streets in London, and there was an almost omnipresent reek in any of the crouds announcing that what some were smoking wasn’t just tobacco. And although personally I kept to Red Stripe, I think by the end of some days I was experiencing something of a high from secondary inhalation.

I did one year encounter a rather incompetent pick-pocket. In 2004 I was standing still with some difficulty in a tightly packed crowd moving to the beat of a giant sound system and trying to take pictures when I suddenly became aware of a hand in my left trouser pocket. It wasn’t mine and I grabbed the wrist with both hands and slowly pulled it out to find it holding a wallet. But that wasn’t mine either and it was empty.

The main after-effect of carnival was always on my ears, which sometimes took several days to recover and for me to lose a ringing sound. In years when the bank holiday came of the 31st of August, this often meant I was back at work the following day, and it was difficult when I couldn’t hear properly. Sound at Notting Hill is phenomenal in places, with the ground and every organ inside your boddy vibrating, you feel it rather than hear it.

Of course there were some years I was away from London for various reasons – often because it wasn’t me who booked the holiday. In 2005 I was suffering badly from a knee injury but was still determined to go. I got ready and slowly limped my way to the station, where I had to climb a footbridge. A few steps up I collapsed in pain, pulled myself up and then came to my senses and realised I wasn’t going to be dancing on Ladbroke Grove that year, sat down and rested for a while before making my slow way home.

But I’ve not now been since 2012. I went on the Sunday, Children’s Day, stayed around three hours taking pictures and didn’t really want to return for the big day. So I didn’t. I’m not sure if its that I’ve changed – getting old – or if carnival has. But since then I’ve often been away from London but even when I’ve been here I’ve decided to go on a quiet country walk with family instead. So I don’t think I’ll be there today, but I might change my mind.

The pictures in this post were all taken in 2004, when I went on both Childrens Day which was the 29th August and the Carnival proper on the 30th, taking my son – then in his twenties – with me on Sunday. He didn’t want to go back the following day.

A Mattress, Pub, Cinema, Listed Pipe & Naval Baroque

Sunday, August 28th, 2022

My walk on Sunday December 18th 1988 began on Lewisham Way in New Cross, where I think I must have got off a 172 bus from Waterloo and begun by walking a short distance south-east down Lewisham Way.

Lewisham Way, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-41-Edit_2400
Lewisham Way, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-41

A Mattress, Pub, Cinema, Listed Pipe & Naval Baroque: This shop was on the corner with Malpas Road, and there is still a shop there, looking a little different but still selling second hand furniture the leaning post was seeking, though that post is gone, with a street sign in a fairly similar position. And the pavement is now often crowded with secondhand furniture.

This was the second of two frames made here as my first picture on the walk.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-42-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-42

I turned around and walked back up Lewisham Way to New Cross, taking no more pictures until I came to the junction with New Cross Road, where I found this fine group of buildings on the north side of the street. At left is the New Cross Inn at 323 New Cross Road. There was a pub on this site at least by 1783 but this impressive but unlisted building dates from 1890. It does appear to be an area where the worst prejudices of Nicolaus Pevsner prevented many fine late Victorian buildings getting a mention.

Next to the right is the site of the former New Cross Kinema built in 1925 to seat 2,300. You can read more about the building on Arthur Lloyd’s Musical and Theatre History Site. It closed as a cinema in 1960, and much of the building behind the facade demolished for an office building. It was empty for some years but when I made this picture was a furniture store. Its first floor dance hall became an Irish dance hall, the Harp Club which also hosted an indie music venue lower down. In 1989 the nightclub The Venue opened there, soon becoming a leading music venue with groups including Oasis and Radiohead playing there as well as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – you can find some long lists on the web. The exterior was restored in 2006 and The Venue took over the ground floor as well. It had to close for Covid and I think has yet to re-open.

At the right is the former Midland Bank, built in 1903 and Grade II listed, probably the least interesting of the three buildings.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-43-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-43

The door and window of a shop on the New Cross Road, cluttered with advertisements and fliers which reflect the large local population of African and Afro-Caribbean heritage. I’m only sorry that the ISO 100 Kodak TMX tabular fine grain film I was using has failed to record the finer details, lost in its grain pattern.

Part of the problem may have been that it was a rather dark corner, and I probably made the exposure with the lens at fairly wide aperture where the resolution would not have been as good as usual. I think it’s another example of where a larger format or digital would have done better.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-44-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-44

Pagnell Street drops steeply down from New Cross road and this slightly odd window is actually on the first floor of a block of flats, probably council-built in the 1950s or 1960s with shops on the New Cross Road frontage. Empty when I photographed it, in recent years this has been a restaurant. At right you can see the ground floor of the building.

New Cross Inn, pub, New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-31-Edit_2400
New Cross Inn, pub, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-31

In the foreground is the decorated ventilation pipe which is a listed building while the New Cross Inn behind is not. The pipe and lamp post, made in 1897 by MacFarlanes of Glasgow apparently derives from a design by noted Glasgow architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson for Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls. This column once stood on top of underground public toilets nearby on the junction with Lewisham Way. The pub is another noted music venue in the area.

This is at the top of Clifton Rise, where supporters of the Socialist Workers Party gathered to oppose the National Front march on 13th August 1977. Police stopped them here and used horses to try to push them down the hill away from the march route. The SWP had refused to cooperate with other anti-fascists in the various London Anti-Fascist Committees who together with many local residents were able to oppose the march more effectively, preventing it reaching its destination of the centre of Lewisham. Unfortunately I was away from London at the time or I would probably have been there. Camerawork magazine – I was a subscriber – devoted the whole of its Issue 8 to it, and you can see it in the Four Corners Archive if you don’t have a copy.

Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-32-Edit_2400
Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-32

Deptford Town Hall was designed by Lanchester, Stewart & Rickards in 1905 for the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford which existed from 1900 until 1965. Its baroque style includes various figures on the frontage including a ship’s prow and a depiction of a naval battle as well as statues by Henry Poole of four naval figures including Drake and Nelson, appropriate to the naval history of the area.

After 1965 it was used for various purposes by Lewisham Council and was acquired by Goldsmiths College in 2000.

Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-22-Edit_2400
Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-22

Apparently according to the Grade II listing these are “Tritons as corbels supporting large oriel bay with carving of ship and marine symbols at its head.”

My walk in New Cross will continue in a later post.

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Saturday, August 27th, 2022

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill. Sunday 27th August 2006, sixteen years ago was a busy day for me, travelling to East Ham to photograph a colourful Hindu festival, then on to Stratford for a short walk along the High Street and Bow Back Rivers, before taking the underground and ending up on Ladbroke Grove for the Children’s Day of the Notting Hill Carnival.

It was part of a very full few days for me, having got back to London after a couple of weeks in Paris and a few days with family in Beeston. Friday I’d put my folding bike on the train to Greenhithe and spent a day cycling around there and Swanscombe, Saturday I’d walked around 12 miles on the London Loop and after the events here on Monday I’d returned to Notting Hill for the carnival itself, after which I needed a few days rest. The text here is taken from My London Diary – with a few corrections, appropriate capitalisation and some additional comments. There are some more details in the captions on the picture pages of these events.

Sri Mahalakshmi Temple Chariot Festival – East Ham

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Sunday morning found me in East Ham, where the Hindu Sri Mahalakshmi Temple was holding its chariot festival. It was a colourful and friendly event, but I soon felt I’d taken enough pictures and left.

It’s hard to show the flames when the offerings of food are made to the god, and difficult to catch the colour of the occasion.

more pictures

Lea Navigation and Bow Back Rivers – Stratford

On my way back from East Ham I stopped off at Bromley-by-Bow and walked up to Stratford High Street and along the rivers and channels there.

Parts were so thickly covered with bright green growth that they looked as if I could have walked along them.

There was another site demolished on the high street, with new housing starting to go up.

more pictures

Notting Hill Carnival – Childrens Day – Notting Hill

But the big event of August is always Notting Hill Carnival, and I was there both on the Sunday afternoon for Childrens’ Day and for the main event on the Monday, shooting both black and white film and colour digital.

[I noted back in 2006 that when I would get round to processing the black and white film is “anyone’s guess”. I think it was around ten years later that I finally admitted I wasn’t going to develop the chromogenic black and white films myself and the chemicals were probably past their best and I sent them for commercial processing. Though by then I wasn’t sure whether I had taken them in 2006 or 2007. But back to my 2006 post.]

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, but I didn’t get the same buzz from this year’s event as in previous years, though most of the same things seemed to be around.

Perhaps this was the problem; most of them did seem to be the same, two years on from when I last photographed the event. Last year, 2005, I tried to go, dragging myself to the station with a knee injury, but the pain was too much to continue. This year my knee held out, though I was glad to sink into a seat on the Underground at Latimer Road at the end of the day.

I didn’t take many colour pictures on Children’s Day, and most weren’t of children, and I think I probably didn’t stay long, but there are many more on the pages which follow on from there taken the following day.

more pictures

Climate Camp Blackheath 2009

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Climate Camp Blackheath 2009  - activists on the tube

Climate Camp Blackheath 2009 – On Wednesday 26 August 2009 I joined a group of climate activists who were gathering in front of Stockwell Underground Station in south London, waiting for directions to move to wherever that year’s climate camp was to be held. They were ‘Blue Group’, at one of six locations around London, waiting to get the secret instructions and move to the site.

We met by the memorial to Jean Charles de Menezez

It had been chosen as one of the meeting points because of what happened there on 22 July 2005. As I wrote, coming “up the escalator at Stockwell station it’s hard not to shiver at the memory of those videos showing Jean Charles de Menezes strolling down to catch his last train, and police coming though the gates in pursuit. There is a memorial to him outside the station, including a great deal of information about the event and the misinformation and covering up by police.”

People wait for instructions in Larkhall Park

It was a terrible mistake made by the Metropolitan Police and the officer in charge was rewarded for it by being put in charge of London’s police. She only recently lost that job after the London Mayor made clear that he had lost confidence in her, but a huge number of Londoners had lost confidence in her and the police in 2002.

On the DLR to Greenwich

After hanging around for while, we were told to go and sit in a nearby park and wait there, and we sat down and ate our sandwiches while some played games. Eventually at 2pm instructions came and we followed the leaders onto the tube, alighting at Bank and changing to the DLR, most still not knowing where the journey would end.

And eventually we reached Blackheat Common

By the time the DLR arrived in Greenwich the destination had become clear, and we left the station for the long walk up the hill to Blackheath Common, an area of common land with a long pedigree as a meeting place for rebels. Police seemed happy both at Stockwell and on the journey to watch the activists from a distance and as we walked past a police station they seemed to be in hiding.

Some rested after the walk up the hill

The common was the site where John Ball made his famous speech with his famous “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?” and urged his peasant audience to “cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.” But the Peasant’s Revolt ended badly in 1381, with teenage King Richard II looking on as the priest was briefly hung and then carefully kept alive to watch his genitals and bowels being removed and burnt before he was beheaded and his body hacked into four pieces.

Jack Cade was a little more fortunate after his rebels camped here in 1450, as he was killed in a battle before he could be executed, but like Ball his severed head was displayed on London Bridge as a warning to others.

Others were busy working, setting up the fence, toilets etc

In 2009, the authorities rather stood back and watched, including from a helicopter hovering above as the camp was set up. As I commented, “With stabilised cameras the image quality should have been high enough for them to match the faces against their database (which of course they claim does not exist.)” Later they brought in a cherry picker to take pictures from, a considerably cheaper option.

Time for a meeting

I’d largely avoided photographing previous climate camps because of their ‘media policy’, which as I wrote “appears to be driven by a few individuals with paranoid ideas about privacy and a totally irrational fear of being photographed. It really does not steal your soul!” This stated that press photographers had to sign the policy and be accompanied while on the site by a minder.

Setting up tents

I didn’t have any problems wandering freely and taking pictures while the site was being set up, and met many people who welcomed me, having met me at previous environmental protests. And I was invited to return later to the camp as a member of the documentation team with a sash that allowed me to wander freely. So I came back two days later to take more pictures, and though there were a few people who made clear they didn’t want to be photographed I was generally able to work as normal.

Water pipes for washing and kitchens

There were no uniformed police on the site on my later visit – and as I noted, it “was almost certainly the most caring and most law-abiding part of South London, with no crime, no drugs and very little alcohol around.” The organisation of the site was truly impressive.

But shortly before I left I noticed that one of the police cameras on their cherry picker was following me as I walked around, and after I left the site I was “followed rather ineptly (perhaps deliberately so) by a young black man in plain clothes as I wandered around for the next 15 minutes, occasionally writing in his notebook. It seemed a waste of public money.”

Some anarchists left after 2 police came on site

I’d stopped for some minutes at several of the workshops that were taking place on my second visit, and had been impressed by the expertise of many, both those leading the sessions and some of those contributing to the debates. If people like these rather than the politicians had been in positions of power we would now be in a very much better place to avoid climate catastrophe, but unfortunately what we have seen is 13 more years almost completely wasted.

Capitalism IS Crisis

More pictures from Wednesday August 26th
Climate Camp: Blue Group Swoop
Climate Camp: Setup

And for an account and pictures from my day there on Saturday August 29th
Climate Camp: Saturday

Thousands March for Animal Rights – London.

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

Thousands March for Animal Rights

Thousands March for Animal Rights – thousands of vegans marched through London from Westminster to Hyde Park on Saturday 25th August 2018 in the Official Animal Rights March founded by animal rights organisation Surge, calling for an end to animal oppression and urging everyone to stop eating animals and using dairy products.

Vegans say that animal lives matter as much as ours and call for an end to speciesism, and the misuse of animals for food, clothing and sport. There does however seem to be rather less concern about aspects such as the breeding of dogs and other animals as pets. And while horse racing attracts some attention, the last protest that I photographed against that most cruel of all races, the Grand National, attracted only a handful of protesters compared to the thousands on this march.

Specieism – the idea that animal lives matter as much as human lives – isn’t something I can agree with. I firmly believe there is something special about the human species which has come about through evolution and in particular the development of language. While other species can communicate with each other and some develop very intricate systems of cooperation and civilisation, humanity has developed these to a very different level.

It’s that level indeed that makes veganism possible. The lion needs to hunt and eat, killing other species cruelly in order to survive. Nature truly is famously ‘red in tooth and claw’ at virtually every level, and predation is a vital aspect of all ecosystems.

Of course I’m against cruel treatment of animals, whether it is in farming practices, the transport of live animals, fur farming etc. I’ve never eaten foie gras and will never do so, but I still happily consume cows milk knowing that cows have been bred that now produce many times the amount their young offspring need and would experience considerable pain if not milked. And I’ll happily pay the extra for free range eggs while opposing the terrible treatment of chickens kept in horrifically overcrowded chicken houses. Modern farming practises have generally prioritised cutting costs over being kind to animals and while injections and vetinary treatment may have cut disease it has been in the interests of productivity rather than a more overall view of animal welfare.

There are good environmental reasons for eating less meat, though less so for grass-fed livestock and also for reducing the scale of consumption of diary products. It’s welcome that some people decide not to eat these things, but a wholesale adoption of veganism would be highly damaging to ecosystems around the world and change the nature of our countryside. Just imagine a farmyard without animals – and think seriously about the future of soil without farmyard manure.

Those fluffy animals on the posters at many vegan protests are not wild animals but domesticated animals, which only exist as they do because they have been bred to live with humans and to provide us with food. I would be sad to see them disappear, but there would be no reason for there to be any cows, sheep, geese, pigs, chickens etc in our farms and fields if we ceased to eat them (though I wouldn’t miss turkeys at all.) And certainly I’d not want to see more petting zoos. But I would like to see more truly wild animals in our countryside – including wild ponies rather than horses being kept and ridden for pleasure. And keeping animals as pets does seem to me to be abuse of a kind too – and sometimes by kindness.

There are animals that I happily kill, such as the slugs that eat my vegetable crops and the ticks that hop a ride to suck my blood. Others that I’d support the culling of – including deer and the grey squirrels that are destroying young oak trees and other young vegetation (and we are slowly finding that plants have feelings too) though I can see no justification for the killing of badgers. Then there are smaller animals that I kill accidentally by walking along paths or through forests.

I’m an insulin user, and it has kept me alive and reasonably healthy for around the last 20 years. Reasearch on insulin began in the 1880s, though it was only in the 1920s that the first human patients were injected with it. That research was only possible through experiments using animals, mainly dogs. Until 1982 when the first biosynthetic human insulin became available all commercial production of insulin depended the use of cattle and pigs. Much more recently a plant source has been found. Using animals in medical research in this and many other cases has saved millions of lives but of course it should be subject to proper controls and certainly not used for trivial and routine tests.

In the past I have marched with animal rights activists, supporting many of their protests against animal cruelty. And my diet now contains far less meat than it once did. But it would be good to see more of those who come out to march for animal rights also coming out to march for human rights. still suffering much abuse here and elsewhere around the world. We are a species too and even though we now don’t eat each other, people are being killed, tortured, sexually assaulted, imprisoned without trial, sentenced for their political views variously abused and denied their human rights and the necessities of life.

More at Thousands March for Animal Rights.

Twickenham Riverside – December 1988

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

River Thames, Eel Pie Lisand, bridge, The Embankment, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-51-Edit_2400
River Thames and bridge to Eel Pie Island, The Embankment, Twickenham 1988 8812a-51

Twickenham Riverside – December 1988
I was teaching on Tuesday 13th December 1988, and together with a colleague took a group of photography students from the college to Twickenham, possibly to view an exhibition at the Orleans House Gallery, or perhaps just as a photographic outing.

My first thought when I looked at the contact sheet today was that it could be for the show I helped to organise there in 1988, city news urban blues…. It had been an interesting show, with images from ten of us who were part of a group called Framework, each showing their own group of pictures – those exhibiting were Carol Hudson, Peter Jennings, Terry King, myself, Tony Mayne, Derek Ridgers, John RJ Taylor, Laurence Ward, Randall Webb and Anton Williams. Terry was the main organiser and I worked with him to keep the group running.

But on checking I find that show was rather earlier in the year and I think we were just taking college students to a reasonably safe and interesting area a short train journey away where they could first be taken for a walk to suitable locations around the riverside and parks and then be left to work unsupervised taking pictures while their tutors probably took a lunch hour rest in a riverside pub.

It was surprisingly difficult to get some students to actually take photographs, so we arranged outings such as this where we would provide a suitable location and brief to make sure even they had some material to work with in the darkroom. They were all required to make at least 36 exposures so they had a film (black and white of course) to develop and make prints. Some students made sure they had time to get to a pub too, though there were enough in Twickenham for them to avoid the same as their two tutors.

River Thames, The Embankment, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-11f-55-Edit_2400
River Thames, The Embankment, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-11f-55

But I did take some pictures myself during the outing, and here are a few of them. I took two versions of this image, looking upriver from the west end of the Embankment, one with the new Minox GTE and the second I think with a Leica M5 using the 35mm Summilux f1.4 lens. The image above is with the Minox, which had a MC Minoxar 35mm/2.8 lens and is just a little sharper, though the difference might well be in the exact focus distance chosen. But though the Minox was incredibly small and light – the smallest 35mm full-frame camera ever made, it could deliver exceptional results.

River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-32-Edit_2400
River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-32

You can still launch boats at Twickenham, where at the junction of Church Land and Riverside a roadway leads down into the river. When the tide is low you can walk down this and get a view downriver. On the right boats are moored by Eel Pie Island and in the centre of the image you can just see Richmond Hill between the trees.

And although there is a footbridge across to Eel Pie Island as shown in the top image of this post, residents still need to keep tide tables handy, as the Twickenham Embankment end of the bridge still floods on those days when the moon aligns with the sun at full and new moon to give Spring Tides.

River Thames, The Embankment, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-36-Edit_2400
River Thames, The Embankment, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-36

The balustrade is around what is now Champion’s Wharf Play Beach, and the wall is around the end of the riverside section of York House Gardens and a part of the archway leading through to this is just visible. The previous picture showed the narrow sloping pebbles above the waterline which I walked out on to take this picture.

Surprisingly I don’t appear on this occasion to have walked through York House Gardens and didn’t photograph the ‘Naked Ladies’ or Italian Fountain just through that gateway and on the left, but continued along Riverside, taking a few pictures of the houses beside it before reaching the splendid building of the White Swan pub.

You can now drink The Naked Ladies, the bestselling beer produced by Twickenham Brewery, a 4.4% golden ale made with Herkules, Celeia and Chinook hops and CAMRA’s 2019 Champion Golden Ale of London. But the brewery only opened in 2004, and Naked Ladies was first launched in 2013, so I can’t recall if or what I drank there in 1988. But I have enjoyed it at the White Swan and elsewhere more recently.

River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-15-Edit_2400
River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12a-15

Before going in a pub we did go down to the riverside a little along from the White Swan, and I made several pictures of this boat covered in vegetation. Apart from this it seemed in quite usable condition and was still firmly moored. The Thames here is still tidal, though the Richmond half-lock downstream stops the water entirely flowing out.

River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12b-64-Edit_2400
River Thames, Twickenham, Richmond, 1988 88-12b-64

A second picture in much the same area shows a smaller boat in rather cleaner condition, firmly moored and roped down on the mud. In the background at right is the white house on the corner of Lebanon Park and Riverside. This is where Twickenham Ferry used to run across the Thames to Ham House, passing just downstream of Eel Pie Island.

The ferry was licensed by the owners of Ham House, the Dysart family (and sometimes known as Dysart’s Ferry) and the first written mention of it was in 1652. I last went across with my father to see Ham House in the mid-1970s, not long before it ceased operation. There had for some years been a dispute about its right of way on this slipway. I took the photograph below in 1979 when the river was flooded and there were boats moored there which were those used for the ferry in better weather to row people across and there were still notices for waiting passengers still on the fence.

Twickenham Ferry, River Thames flooding at Twickenham, Richmond, 1979
Twickenham Ferry, River Thames flooding at Twickenham, Richmond, January 1979

My contact sheet from December 1988 shows we walked further on, with pictures of moored boats close to where the still operational Hammerton’s Ferry, a Johnny-come-lately from 1908, still runs when weather and water conditions allow. An on one of these frames (not digitised) a small figure by the water’s edge stands taking a photograph, with the balding head of my teaching colleague, another Peter. This was where I made my final image of the day, after which I strongly suspect we made our way back towards a riverside pub before meeting our students for the train back to college.

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka – On Saturday 23rd August 2014 I photographed four protests in Westminster, one against an aspect of our racist immigration policies, the second against the UK selling arms to Israel which have been used in attacks on Gaza (along with a counter demonstration), the anniversary of chemical attacks by the Syrian regime and a protest calling for UK support against the continuing genocide of the Tamil nation.

Divided Families protest over cruelty – Downing St

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

The cruel and unfair immigration rules set up by the Home Office under Theresa May mean that anyone earning less than £18,600 was unable to bring a non-EU spouse into the country (Brexit means that similar rules now apply to most EU countries.)

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

This income requirement discriminates against women, the retired and disabled young and many minority ethnic people who have on average lower incomes than the general population. For couples with children, the income limit is even higher, and to secure visas for a spouse and two children you would need an income of £24,800.

Families Separated, Gaza, Ghouta and Sri Lanka

Fees for applications are also expensive – from £1048 to £1538 per person and applicants may also need to pay a healthcare premium of from £1560 to £3120 for adults and around three-quarters of this for each child. For applications made in the UK there is an extra £800 if you want a faster decision. And applicants also need to supply a great deal of documentation.

The policy, which also includes tougher English Language tests, a proof of greater attachment to the UK than of any other country and extending the probationary period from two to five years, is in direct contradiction of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states:

‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’

Universal Declaration on Human Rights

People at the protests included many whose families were divided as they were unable to meet the income levels, as well as a number of parents and friends of divided families.

Many carried placards with images of the divided families, along with captions such as ‘I WANT MY DADDY TO CUDDLE ME NOT SKYPE ME’. I felt deeply for those caught by what seem to be vindictive, unnecessary and totally insupportable polices. It was impossible not to agree with the placards with messages such as ‘WHY IS LOVE DIVIDED BY LAW? THERESA MAY HAS NO HEART!!! THE LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE….’

Divided Families protest over cruelty

Gaza Protest – Stop Arming Israel – Downing St

A large rally at Downing St called on the UK to stop selling arms to Israel, and for an end to Israeli war crimes. Among the protesters were many Jews from various Jewish groups, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta who had walked down from north London to support the protest.

Israel had carried out air strikes on Gaza in July 2014 following a number of incidents including the shooting by the IDF of two Palestinian teenagers and the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. There were other incidents including house demolitions and the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian youth. Hamas replied to air strikes with rocket fire on Israel.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began in earnest on 20th July and the ground war was still continuing though on a lesser scale when this protest took place, with a ceasefire being agreed and coming into effect on 26th August.

There are more details about the invasion in the Wikipedia Timeline, which states “2,256 Palestinians and 85 Israelis died, while 17,125 Palestinians, and 2,639 Israelis suffered injuries.”

At the protest there was a row of black boxes representing coffins and the names of children killed, and some people carried ‘bloodstained’ bundles representing dead children

Three people came to wave Israeli flags across the road and were led away for safety by police.

Earlier one of the Palestinian protesters had tried to seize one of the flags and was dragged away by police. At the end of the rally opposite Downing St some of the protesters marched around London and I went with them as far as Trafalgar Square where I had another event to cover.

More pictures: Gaza Protest – Stop Arming Israel

Syria Chemical Massacre Anniversary – Trafalgar Square

A rally marked a year after the Ghouta massacre of 21/08/2013 when Assad regime forces outraged the world by using Sarin gas, killing 1,477 residents including over 400 children in this Damascus suburb. The world failed to act against Assad.


After an hour-long rally in Trafalgar Square the protesters, who were mainly Syrians, marched along the pavements to Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing St, where they laid flowers in memory of the dead.

More pictures: Syria Chemical Massacre Anniversary

Tamils protest Sri Lankan rapes & killing – Downing St

Also present when I returned to Downing St were Tamils protesting over the continuing genocide of the Tamil nation, calling for a UN investigation and referendum on Tamil Eelam.

Placards called for an end to the use of rape to destroy their nation and sexual violence against children.

More pictures: Tamils protest Sri Lankan rapes & killing

Aylesbury, Newington & City Nights

Monday, August 22nd, 2022

This post looks at the end of my walk south of the river on Sunday 13th November 1988 – the previous post was Flats, A Square, Bread & Funerals – Walworth – and finishes with a few pictures taken at night in the City of London.

Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St,  Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-12-Edit_2400
Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St, Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-12

Southwark Council built the Aylesbury Estate between 1963 and 1977. It was one of the larger if not the largest public housing developments in Europe, with around 2,700 homes. Wendover, designed by the boroughs architects, was completed in 1970. I think it’s two blocks contains around 471 flats as well as a learning centre and tenants hall.

Like many council estates it was poorly maintained over the years and parts of the estate were deliberately used by the council to house people and families with various social problems, something exacerbated by the Conservatives plans, particularly under Thatcher, to get rid of social housing, resulting in it increasingly becoming housing for the most deprived members of society.

The estate has a central boiler for heating and hot water, which has increasingly suffered from failures which residents say the council is very slow to take action over. The flats also have fallen behind more modern standards of insulation etc, and are in need of some refurbishment, though the council drastically overstated the costs of this when making their case for demolition.

Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St,  Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-14-Edit_2400
Wendover, Aylesbury Estate, Thurlow St, Walworth, Southwark, 1988 88-11c-14

I’ve in recent years been inside quite a few flats on the estate, often lovingly maintained and decorated by their residents who have been fighting a long battle against council plans to redevelop the area.

Although the council carried out a long PR campaign against this and the neighbouring Heygate Estate – including Tony Blair making his first speech as Prime Minister here and launching the party’s programme of regeneration of housing estates.

Its relatively open and fairly traffic-free nature along with convenient location made the estate a favourite for “grim backdrops to murder scenes, gun and drug storylines and gang-related crimes in soaps and gritty dramas” until pressure from local residents forced Southwark Council to ban filming in the area.

Channel4 took footage from the estate to use in their channel ident, adding to it, according to Ben Campkin of UCL quoted in Wikipedia, “washing lines, shopping trolley, rubbish bags and satellite dishes” to show it as “a desolate concrete dystopia [which] provides visual confirmation of tabloid journalists’ descriptions of a ‘ghost town’ estate.

Residents wanted refurbishment rather than demolition – which will lead to many of them moving much further away from the centre of London. But councillors salivated at the thought of profits and handouts from the developers and never seriously considered anything other than demolition and replacement. Their decision lead to a series of occupations by housing activists of properties due for demolition. The complete destruction of the estate seems likely to take around another ten years with the final phase beginning next year. You can read much more about what has happened – and the duplicity of Southwark Council on the Southwark Notes site.

Trade Counter, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-62-Edit_2400
Trade Counter, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-62

I walked on through both the Aylesbury and Heygate estates, both estates with a bad reputation for crime, but where I never suffered an uneasy moment despite having around £10,000 of equipment in my camera bag. I didn’t stop to take many pictures after those of Wendover, probably because I was getting tired. I did took a few frames on the New Kent Road and then walked on past the Elephant.

This entrance on Lambeth Road was one I’d photographed previously and probably I made a slight detour to do so again. I’d made an earlier picture using the tiny Minox that lived in my jacket pocket and it was severely underexposed. I had to send the camera for servicing. It was distributed by Leica, who told me it couldn’t be repaired, but offered me a replacement at considerably below the shop price. I had it in my pocket on 13th November taking my first test film, and took it out and made another exposure with it which was fine – and very similar to this, made on an Olympus SLR. Both are online on Flickr.

Frank Love, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-63-Edit_2400
Frank Love, Lambeth Rd, Newington, Southwark, 1988 88-11e-63

The previous image was the trade entrance at No 47 for Frank Love at New XL House, No 45 Lambeth Rd. Its signs read PLUMBERS BRASSFOUNDRY COPPER TUBES AND FITTINGS but I think the works had closed when I made this image. You can view an earlier image of the whole frontage by Bedford Lemere & Co in the Lambeth borough archive, and see some of their advents on Grace’s Guide. I think these were the last pictures taken on my walk which ended at Waterloo Station.

Dagwoods, St Alphage Highwalk, City, 198888-11e-41-Edit_2400
Dagwoods, St Alphage Highwalk, City, 198888-11e-41

Dagwoods offered Quality Sandwiches to city workers in their lunch hour but the area was pretty empty at night, although there are still a few lights in the offices. The large area of pavement emphasises that emptiness.

I think I was probably coming back from an event at the Museum of London and had decided to take a little walk with my camera, though from some of the other pictures it seems clear I had come without a tripod.

Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-42-Edit_2400
Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-42

Another deserted area of highwalk, and the sharpness and depth of field suggests I was able to steady myself well to produce this handheld – it will have been taken at a pretty slow shutter speed. This section of highwalk and the office building at right is still there though looking rather different.

Too much of the older London remained for the planners’ dreams of the separation of pedestrians from traffic to ever really be feasible except in a few small areas of the city – and there are very few escalators or lifts where the elderly and disabled can access them.

Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-45-Edit_2400
Night, Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1988 88-11e-45

One of my favourite modern buildings in London, and one I’ve photographed several times in daylight. I suspect it was this building that really prompted me to make this short walk at night. After the four frames (only one digitised) I made here I did wander around an make a dozen or so more exposures, but nothing which really caught my interest when I was deciding which to put on-line.

65 Basinghall St is Grade II listed as “Former exhibition hall, magistrates court and offices, now converted to offices, 1966-69, by Richard Gilbert Scott of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Son and Partner” and was built in 1966-9. There is a long essay in the listing text. But perhaps sufficient to say its roof is one of the finest uses of concrete at least in the UK.