BA Cabin Crew

While some of my friends were up at first light touring the gates of Heathrow Airport and photographing the pickets (and in some cases then rushing up to Bolton to photograph the UAF being attacked by police as they demonstrated against the EDL there) I had a fairly leisurely start to the morning, catching the 203 bus just before ten to get me to Bedfont Football Club in Hatton, where BA cabin crew were gathering for a meeting at 10.30am on the first day of their 3 day strike.

Although there were quite a few of the BA workers there, they were probably outnumbered by the press and trade union supporters from elsewhere and there were also BA pickets at the various entrances to the airport which covers a pretty huge site on the edge of London.

Heathrow, started by subterfuge during the Second World War as a replacement for Croydon should of course have itself been replaced by now with a more suitably sited airport which would not pollute so much of the capital.  For some reason as a nation we have always backed away from the most suitable sites, somewhere well out of London and close to the main rail and motorway routes between London and Birmingham (perhaps Milton Keynes would have been better as an airport than a new town!) Instead we’ve had relatively hare-brained schemes such as Boris Johnson has recently proposed for the Thames estuary.  But at least our national madness made for a short bus journey for me on Saturday, even if the pollution from Heathrow is probably reducing my life expectancy materially.

Parts of bus journey give tiny glimpses of the past before the airport, when Heath Row was a village full of orchards and market gardens and farmland, though without the airport much of this might also have been replaced by the kind of development that has swamped the neighbouring village of Stanwell, or become the kind of derelict green belt eaten away by gravel working and small office or factory developments  which is rather common in what was Middlesex.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
Len McCluskey – We Offered Pay Cuts to keep BA Premium

Of course I’ve written about the event and put more pictures on line elsewhere, including My London Diary. It got to be a real press scrum during the actual meeting, and I was in the second row, which was fine for working with a telephoto to photograph the speakers, but made it hard to get full-length shots.

The light rain didn’t help either, and for some time I was so much in a crush I couldn’t be bothered to try and take my flash off one body and put it on the other where it might have been more useful. Working like this in the rain I keep a microfibre cloth bunched up in my left hand and used it to wipe the lens filter between shots, though a few were still spoiled by rain on the lens. And every time I use it I still think I should really have bought a large chamois leather which would do the job just a little better!

© 2010, Peter Marshall
BA workers were told they would be sacked if they talked to the cameras – I hope they were allowed to clap

There were a few more shots at the end of the rally as people began to disperse, and then I lazily caught another 203 to Hatton Cross, just a few minutes walk away, to photograph the pickets there.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

There did seem to be a rather full set of BA jets parked in the distance, though it was tricky to include them and the pickets in the same shot.

Unfortunately the Piccadilly line wasn’t running all the way into central London where I needed to be next, but another bus, the 285, took me quickly to Feltham station for a train to Waterloo.

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