Posts Tagged ‘2008’

Missing Paris

Thursday, November 12th, 2020
1984

I’m missing Paris. My first visit there was in 1966, when I spent a week or two in a Protestant student hostel a few miles south of the centre with my future wife – though in separate double rooms, each with another of the same sex – and students from around the mainly Francophone world. After breakfast each day we took the train for the short journey to the Left Bank and spent the day as tourists in the city and nearby attractions, though mainly just walking around the city as we were both still penniless students.

Paris 2008

We lunched outdoors in parks and squares, buying baguettes and stuffing them with chocolate or pate as we couldn’t afford cafes or bars, eating cheap fruit for afters. We went out of Paris to Versailles, where I managed to drop my camera in the lake as we climbed into a boat to row around the lake. The boatman fished it out and handed it back to me as we got out of the boat, rather obviously expecting a reward, but all I could afford was my thanks. The camera never worked reliably after that, and it was five years before I could afford to replace it.

We returned to the hostel for an evening meal, which introduced me to some very strange dishes – and I think one evening as a special treat we were given a kind of horsemeat stew; it tasted fine, but I’ve never sought to repeat the experience. After dinner we crowded into a room with the rest of the inhabitants to watch the games of the World Cup, though I’d gone home before the final.

Quai de Jemappes / Rue Bichat, 10e, Paris, 1984

It was some years before we could afford another foreign holiday – we’d spent our honeymoon in Manchester with a day trip to the Lake District, a visit to Lyme Park and some walks around Glossop. But in 1973 we were back for a couple of weeks in Paris, this time at a hostel in the centre and sharing a room. We took with us the Michelin Guide (in French) and I think followed every walk in the book, which took us to places most tourists never reach – it was then much more thorough than the later English versions.

Monmartre, 1973

In 1973 I had two cameras with me. A large and clunky Russian Zenith B with its 58mm f/2 Helios lens and a short telephoto, probably the 85mm f2 Jupiter 9, but also the more advanced fixed lens rangefinder Olympus SP, with its superb 42mm f1.7 lens, a simple auto exposure system as well as full manual controls. I needed my Weston Master V exposure meter to work with the Zenith. You can see more of the photographs I took on my Paris Photos web site. Some of these pictures were in my first published magazine portfoliolater in 1973.

It was a while before we returned to Paris, though we went through it by train on our way to Aix-en-Provence and on bicycles from between stations on our way to the Loire Valley in the following couple of years. Then came two children, and it was 1984 before we returned to the city with them when I came to photograph my ‘Paris Revisited‘ a homage to one of the great photographers of Paris, Eugene Atget, which you can see in the Blurb Book and its preview as well as on my Paris Web site.

Placement libre-atelier galerie, Paris 2012

We returned to the city several times later in the 1980s and 1990s, and more regularly after 2000, when I went in several Novembers for a week, usually with my wife, to visit the large Paris Photo exhibition as well as many other shows which took place both as a part of the official event and its fringe. One week there I went to over 80 exhibitions, including quite a few openings.

La Villette, Canal St Martin, 19e, Paris 1984-paris285
1988

But the last time I was in Paris was in November 2012. Partly because Paris Photo changed and there seemed to be less happening around it in the wider city than in previous years. We’d planned to go in 2015 but were put off by Charlie Hebdo shooting and later the November terrorist attack. More attacks in 2018 also put us off visiting France, but we’d promised ourselves a visit to Paris in 2020 – and then came the virus.

88-8l-54-Edit_2400
1988

While I’ve been stuck at home since March, I have been visting France virtually, going back to my slides taken in 1974 in the South of France, of our ride up the Loire Valley in 1975 and of Paris in 1984, all of which are now on Flickr. Most recently I’ve returned to Paris in 1988, with over 300 black and white pictures from Paris and some of its suburbs.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Iona – the Abbey

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Every time I peel an onion, something I do several times most weeks, it reminds me of our stay at Iona. As paying guests of the Iona Community at the Abbey we took our part in the daily chores which kept the place running, and each morning after breakfast I went with the other ‘Otters’ – the work group to which I had been assigned to the kitchen to prepare vegetables. My part in this job seemed always to be one of two or three of us peeling onions – and you need a lot of onions to cook vegetarian meals for around 50 or 60 people.

There are a lot of dodges that people advise to avoid tears when peeling onions, and I think I tried them all. They may help if you are only peeling one or two, but none help if you have a mountain of them to get through. You cry, and crying only makes it worse. Still, I think I preferred it to cleaning the lavatories and washrooms that my partner was assigned to.

The Abbey is essentially a twentieth-century reconstruction carried out by teams of volunteers from the Iona Community after the site with its ruins was gifted to the Church of Scotland by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1899, with more modern living accommodation built alongside it in a matching external style.

The Duke is still present – in marble, lying beside his wife.

As well as the abbey, alongside it is a small church, the oldest building on Iona (c 1150) with an ancient graveyard where 48 Kings of Scotland were buried. They were joined more recently by Labour leader John Smith; a boulder marks his grave with the message “An Honest Man’s The Noblest Work of God”.

There are ruins of another chapel in the grounds, as well as those of a former Bishop’s House, and splendid views across the sound to Mull, enough to drag me out of bed for a short walk before breakfast (and onions.) And of course there were a number of short religious services, optional but an important part of the experience, though with too much unaccompanied singing for my taste.

More pictures in and around the Abbey from our visit 12 years ago on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


More from May Days: 2008

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Continuing my short series of posts about previous May Day celebrations in London that I photographed.

I photographed them after they had photographed me

As usual the London May Day committee had organised a march from Clerkenwell Square and my day started with police photographing me as I arrived to photograph the event. As I commented:

It’s hard to see any real point in this other than a kind of mild intimidation of journalists and difficult not to regard it as an attack on free speech and the freedom of the press. Definitely a distortion of the role of the police in a free society, it is also one that distracts them from the vital tasks they have at the present time.

TUC May Day March

Numbers on the march were lower than in previous years, perhaps because it was also a day when elections were taking place in London, and the weather probably didn’t help. But there were those with trade union banners, including the sacked Gate Gourmet workers. As usual there were large groups of marchers from the Turkish and Kurdish communities, and I particularly liked the picture at the top of this post, but there are many more of them on My London Diary.

Many accounts of May Day write about its origins with the The Second International calling for a commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs as an international workers day, but seldom mention its special significance for the Turkish groups:

For Turkish groups, the day also commemorates the 1977 Taksim Square massacre, when around 40 people in a crowd of around half a million celebrating May Day were killed and around 200 injured by firing from the Hotel International. None of those responsible has been brought to justice but both Turkish secret police and CIA have been implicated. At least at the moment our own police are only using cameras.

As the marchers left Clerkenwell on their way to Trafalgar Square I made my way to one of my least favourite areas of London, Mayfair, where the Space Hijackers had announced a celebration, a recreation of the Mayfayres which gave the area its name and were banned in  1708 because of their boisterous disorder.

Camilla and Boris took turns in the stocks

They had made their plans after Police Commander Bob Broadhurst had attempted to justify the very different policing of pro-Tibet and pro-Chinese protesters during the Olympic Torch debacle in London by claiming the pro-China group were not restricted because they were celebrating rather than protesting. As I commented in 2008 on My London Diary:

As their various events over the years have shown, the Space Hijackers do a rather ace job of celebrating, although they haven’t always had the same cooperation from the police as those upholding human rights abuse by China – or even football supporters. For this year’s May Fayre, police even supplied a comprehensive photographic service, although the price (I believe £10) of obtaining your pictures from them by a Freedom of Information request seems rather high, especially considering the poor quality of results I’ve seen. As I think my pictures demonstrate, it’s often better to use a wide-angle rather than the extreme telephoto “peeping toms” favoured by police photographers.

They were also seen searching a few people, possibly to enforce the fancy dress code, but otherwise just seemed to be standing around the area – particularly across the access roads – and carrying out a useful role in preventing traffic from disrupting the festivities while letting those on foot walk in and out as they wished.


It was a fun event, and even some of the police appeared to enjoy it (and the overtime they were getting for watching what was an entirely peaceful and well-organised event – even if they maypole dancing could have done with more practice) though as in the morning we were all getting extensively and obtrusively photographed. I’ve often wondered what they do with all these images, but they are rather secretive and embarrassed about them. Despite having photographed me many times on numerous occasions, on the only time I bothered to make a Freedom of Information request and paid my £10 they were unable to find a single picture.

Mayfair Mayfayre – Space Hijackers
TUC May Day March


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.