‘Je suis Charlie’ London – Clegg et Sylvie

I’d decided some months ago that on Sunday 11th January, as on too many previous January 11ths I would be covering the event to mark the anniversary of the setting up of the illegal Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and decided to stick to that decision even though the major news event in London was the ‘Je suis Charlie’ vigil in Trafalgar Square. So I only arrived there after I’d spent over an hour outside the US embassy, at just after half past three, and had expected to miss the French Ambassador.

A large crowd filled the square and the steps up to the National Gallery when I arrived but there was nothing obvious going on, so I plunged into the crowd and worked my way across the square taking pictures. I really didn’t feel I was getting a great deal, and knew that many other photographers were doing much the same as me, and had more or less decided to give up.

I’d walked around to the front of the square, in front of an empty and taped off area in front of the plinth and was looking at the crowd, wondering if I could take a good overall picture, when I noticed a commotion in the centre of the crowd, with cameras being raised above photographer’s heads to take pictures. Something was clearly happening, and I made my way in that direction, to meet with security men hustling obviously important guests away through the crowd. There were people at the front I didn’t recognise, then I saw a man being interviewed as he walked along who was vaguely familiar. Could it be Nick Clegg? I walked backwards taking pictures, and he stopped as a French woman grabbed his arm and complimented him on his French accent, asking where he had learnt it. “At school” he told her and after a second or so moved on, by which time I had seen the French Ambassador behind him. The two came together and I took a few pictures as they walked along, not easy as there were people in the way and a horde of press photographers was just catching up with us. After a few yards I decided I’d got my pictures and gave up, leaving the others to chase after them.

I don’t much like working with the kind of press pack you get around celebrities at events such as this. I don’t like being barged and pushed when taking pictures, though at times I try and stand my ground. And I find the pictures that people get in such situations are seldom of much interest to me – if apparently loved by editors.

I decided it was worth trying to take some more interesting pictures to go with the few of Clegg and Syvie and made my way on into the crowd from where they had come, finding a few things I was happier with.

There was supposed to be a projection of the French flag on the National Gallery at 4pm, but they appeared to be having some technical problems, and after 20 minutes of waiting with just one projector apparently working with a test pattern on the wall I saw a 139 bus across the square and decided to get on it.

Back home I tried to get the pictures to Demotix. Their server kept dropping the connection. It wasn’t until after 9.30pm that I managed to get the 25 pictures uploaded. Then they held it up more making a stupid change to the headline…

You can see 25 pictures from the event on Demotix now (I’ve corrected the headline again) – and shortly with the story (which Demotix no longer publishes) on My London Diary.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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