Posts Tagged ‘ceremony’

10,000 Disabled Dead

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

On 28th September 2013, disabled activists and supporters came to Parliament Square for ‘10,000 Cuts & Counting’, a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for over 10,000 who died shortly after the degrading Work Capability Assessments run for the government by Atos.

The figure of 10,000 is the number who died in the 3 months following the degrading Atos-administered tests used by the government intended to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health. The campaigners are not claiming that the test itself killed people, although some have been driven to commit suicide after being failed by Atos, but that such tests administered in the final days of life are unfeeling, unnecessary and persecute the sick and dying.

At the event we heard moving personal testimonies by disabled people and a mother of three disabled children, with many damning indictments of the failures of Atos and the Department of Work and Pensions, both failing to understand the needs of the disabled and not treating them with dignity and humanity, and of deliberately discriminatory policies, arbitrary decisions and bureaucratic incompetence.

Parliament Square was covered with 10,000 while flowers, one for each of the dead, and there was 2 minutes of silent remembrance for those who have suffered and died.

The silence was followed by four prayers facing the four sides of the square; prayers facing Westminster Abbey for the families of those who have suffered and disabled people still suffereing or despairing; facing the Supreme Court calling for justice and compassion for those without resources and power and for an end to discrimination and violence against the disabled; towards the Treasury calling on those in national and local government who decide on the use of resources to take into account the effect on people of what they do; and finally towards Parliament, calling for a new deal for disabled people and to put right the evident wrongs in the current system.

Unfortunately the prayers were not heard by those in power. The government’s response? They stopped issuing the figures on which this event was based.

More at 10,000 Cuts – Deaths After Atos Tests.


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.


Autumn Equinox on Primrose Hill

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

2007

I’ve photographed the ceremonies performed by Druid Order on the the Spring and Autumn Equinox on several occasions, and feel that interesting though these events are there is little more I can say about either of them. Probably I won’t attend them again, or at least I don’t feel any need to.

2007

The Spring Ceremony takes place at Tower Hill and the Autumn at the top of Primrose Hill, which is a rather more atmospheric location with its extensive view of London. Tower Hill does have the Tower of London in the background, but not a great view of it, and the actual yard in which the ceremony takes place has all the appeal of any urban car park. In some earlier years there was something of a procession through city streets, but more recently the preparation has taken place in a hall of the adjacent church.

2007


The Druids get ready for the Autumn ceremony under some splendid trees on the edge of the park and process to the top of the hill for the ceremony. My pictures in 2007 concentrated on describing the various stages of the event and I think do so well. Here I’ll post just a few of them but you can see the rest online – link below.

2007
2007
2007
2014

In 2014 I also showed the various stages of the ceremony, but managed to also show more of the druids and their getting ready for the event. I also took a monopod with me (as I had also in 2013) and was able to use it to hold a camera around 10 ft above ground to get a better picture showing the druid circle with the view of London in the distance.

2014

I also talked more to some of those taking part before and after the event, and wrote a longer than usual introduction to the pictures describing the ceremony and giving some of the history of Druidism and the Druid Order.

Autumn Equinox on Primrose Hill

2007
2009
2013
2014


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.


Cake, Yacht and Dodo

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

The cake came outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) where PCS members who work as cleaners and catering workers were beginning the first ever indefinite strike at a government ministry, demanding they be paid the London Living Wage, and get decent conditions of employment.

It was the third anniversary of the founding of the BEIS, and also the third anniversary of the campaign to get the workers there decent pay and to be employed directly by the BEIS, rather than outsourcing companies ISS and Aramark whose only concern is cutting costs to the bone by exploiting the workers so they can undercut competitors for the contracts and make profits at the workers’ expense.

A crowd of around a hundred supporters was there to cheer the strikers when they came out of the BEIS to begin their strike and there were speeches from trade unionists including PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash, and UCU’s Jo Grady as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and some of the BEIS workers. I did manage to get a piece of the cake before I had to leave for the Royal Courts of Justice.

Extinction Rebellion had brought the yacht to to court to begin their ‘Summer Uprising’, another series of protests in five major cities against the criminal inaction by the government on climate and ecological collapse. The yacht was named Polly Higgins after the Scottish barrister who fought for years for an Ecocide Law and had died of cancer 3 months earlier, only 50.

When I arrived some kind of new age ceremony was taking place with people bringing water from across the country to pour into a large bowl and a Druid celebrant in long white robes. It’s one of the kind of things that makes it hard for many to take XR seriously as a movement.

But of course it is serious and the crisis that we face is existential. An ecocide law would be a powerful way to restrain some of the worst excesses of companies that are driving us to extinction. There were some good speeches at the event, with some very clear thinking, but also a few which made me cringe a little.

Eventually it was time to march, with the pink Dodo and the yacht, making our way across the river towards Waterloo where XR was to set up a camp on Waterloo Millenium Green.

There really is a climate and ecological emergency, with too many species going the way of the dodo, and we do need governments to tell the truth and make real and difficult actions to halt what seems an inevitable slide into irreversible heating which will make the world uninhabitable for many species, probably including our own. It’s time to end the kind of lip-service which has our government setting targets long into the future while ramping up disastrous policies like Heathrow expansion, road-building and coal mines.

The yacht went with them at the back of the procession, which halted for some time to block Waterloo Bridge, remembering the many arrests there in the previous XR protests, before continuing. It was then stopped by police on Waterloo Rd, causing far more rush hour traffic chaos than necessary by completely blocking the Waterloo roundabout. Eventually they were allowed to continue and occupy the green space they were heading for, but by that time I had left and walked into Waterloo station to catch my train home.

XR Summer Uprising procession
XR call for Ecocide Law
BEIS workers begin indefinite strike


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.


8th May

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

Maypole Dance, Hayes, 2012

I sat for some time wondering what to write about today. Perhaps the obvious choice would be to point out that this is the 76th anniversary of VE Day – and I did attend some events to mark the 60th anniversary back in 2005, both on Saturday May 7th in Ilford and May 8th in Bromley. Sixty years on from the event itself, this was probably the last occasion when a significant number of actual veterans were still around in their 80s and 90s and able to take part.

‘Little Sanctum’, Hayes, 2005

But looking at the pictures I found it too depressing – and things now have got even worse when with none left who actually fought in WW2 to provide some realism celebrations related to the war have grown more militaristic and jingoistic, more based more on the propaganda of films and TV series and the claim “two world wars and one world cup” than the reality of a fight against fascism – and where Little Englander views have defeated the vision of a united Europe, particularly in the Brexit campaign.

Hayes, 2010

I needed something to cheer me up a little, so instead some pictures from the London May Queen crowning which takes place around this time of year on the second Saturday in May, which in 2010 was May 8th. It was an unusual year in that the weather was terrible, with cold driving rain making the usual outdoor ceremonies on Hayes Common and the parade around the village impracticable, and the event took place with a smaller number taking part inside the crowded village hall. So I’ve added a couple of pictures from other years which show a more normal view of the day.

Hayes, 2010

I’ve written about the event – with help from some of those involved – in various posts on My London Diary, and also in the book, London May Queens, still available as a reasonably priced download or expensively in print from Blurb. Getting to know some of the organisers and taking an interest in the history of the event enabled me to overcome some of the now inevitable suspicions around a male photographer photographing young girls and I was there in 2008 by invitation of some of the mothers involved.

Hayes, 2010

May Queens have a long history, although the traditional May festivities were rather different and bacchanalian. Like many English traditions, this was revived in a bowdlerised form by the Victorians, largely as a festival for children and young people. The ‘Merrie England And London May Queen Festival’ came a little later, founded in 1913 by Joseph Deedy, a master at Dulwich School, and at its peak, I think in the 1930s, involved 120 ‘realms’ from different areas mainly around south London each with their own May Queen, with well over a thousand children coming together for the crowning of the London May Queen at Hayes.

Hayes, 2010

Deedy wrote some rather quaint texts which are still used in the various stages of the ceremonies around Hayes, as well as setting the general principles and rules for the realms and the event. Girls work their way up through the organisation based on length of service, progressing though various roles, first in the local realms, and then in the London May Queen group. They can join from age three, and can remain involved until they are 18. Organisers see it as a way of encouraging social skills and developing self-confidence in the girls who take part. They often take part in local fetes, visits to care homes, and other activities as well as enjoying tea parties. The crowning of the London May Queen is the culmination of a series of events on previous Saturdays when the different realms crown their own Queens.

Hayes, 2010

Working inside the crowded hall in 2008 was difficult, but I was pleased to have the opportunity, and it provided some variety in my coverage of the event – as did the various crowning events in some of the local realms. Covid will doubtless have prevented the 2010 and 2021 events taking place but I hope it will resume for 2022. It’s a charming survival from an earlier age and one which invokes a community spirit which enriches local life.

Hayes, 2008

There are too many posts on My London Diary featuring May Queen Events between 2005 and 2013 to list them all, but you can find them easily on the web site as they are all on the pages from April and May. Here are just a few of them.

London May Queen 2005
London May Queen 2008
Merrie England & London May Queen 2010
London Crowns 100th May Queen 2012
London’s 101st May Queen 2013
I posted even more pictures than usual from these events as I wanted to share them with those who had taken part and tried to include everyone in the pictures.


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.


Spring Equinox

Saturday, March 20th, 2021


I’m not sure how Druids will be celebrating this year’s Spring Equinox on today, March 20th, but for several years I went to photograph the annual celebration at noon at Tower Hill. But after I’d photographed the event several times I decided there seemed to be very little more I could say about it and it was no longer something I felt a need to cover.

Spring comes every year, and we celebrate it in different ways, and I think that other festivals around this time of year, including St Patrick’s Day and Easter all owe something to this Druidic festival of new life. Before Julius Caesar updated the Roman calendar a date around the Equinox was often chosen to celebrate the New Year, and this lives on in our names for the months of September and October, the seventh and eight months of a year starting in March. In London we can join with the Kurds in celebrating their New Year, Newroz, at the Equinox.

Druids claim to have a long history but we know very little about how the ancient inhabitants of our country actually celebrated, though clearly they did mark the solstices and equinoxes as sites such as Stonehenge attest. But there is no record of exactly what they did and what they believed, and traditional Druidic ceremonies are a relatively modern creation.

Wikipedia has a lengthy article on modern Druidry, which includes the following:

Many forms of modern Druidry are modern Pagan religions, although most of the earliest modern Druids identified as Christians. Originating in Britain during the 18th century, Druidry was originally a cultural movement, and only gained religious or spiritual connotations later in the 19th century.

Druidry (modern)

The oldest remaining of these modern druidic groups is the Ancient Order of Druids founded in 1781. The public ceremonies at Tower Hill and for the Autum equinox at Primrose Hill are by The Druid Order, founded in1909 by George Watson MacGregor Reid but claiming lineage from earlier Druids. They have apparently also been known as The Ancient Druid Order, An Druidh Uileach Braithreachas, and The British Circle of the Universal Bond. Their public rituals have now been carried on for over a century.

On My London Diary you can see the pictures I took in the various years and in each report I’ve posted the images in chronological order and I try to give my interpretation of the various aspects of the ceremony. But mine is an outsider’s view and you can also find out more from their web site.

The Druids process away to a nearby hall at the end of the ceremony. Most years they have used the church next door, but one year this was not available and they had to go a short distance through the city, crossing the road through an underpass.

You can see my pictures and text from the Spring Equinox ceremonies in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014 on My London Diary – and if you look on some of the October pages – or use the search on the site – there are also pictures from the Autumn Equinox at Primrose Hill.