Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Happy Christmas

Saturday, December 25th, 2021

Happy Christmas to all readers of >Re:PHOTO. My wife and I still send Christmas Cards, actual cards rather than e-cards, put into envelopes, stamped and posted, or put through the doors of nearby friends and neighbours.

Most of those cards are from Traidcraft, an organisation that is “pioneering the future of fair trade. Traidcraft stands for changing peoples’ lives through trade, saving vanishing traditional skills from extinction, and celebrating a world of creativity and culture.” Linda sells their products in the local area on a non-profit basis, and we eat and drink many of them, though use rather fewer of the craft products. And when I say we still send cards, its Linda who writes almost all of them, most with a personal message which sometimes gets rather long and for a few is in a foreign language.

But I also like to send my own personal cards to a few friends, mainly fellow photographers – and also usually use the same one of my pictures on an e-card on social media. But this year I found it very difficult to select a suitable image, partly because I spent the first four months of the year still more or less in isolation because of Covid.

Even since I went back to work on May 1st – I just couldn’t bear to miss another May Day – I’ve still been very much cutting down on the events I photograph, going to take pictures less frequently and largely only covering those causes I feel most strongly about. I’ve always liked to use recent pictures on my cards, so there were rather fewer to choose from.

At the start of my Covid isolation in March 2019 I stopped updating My London Diary. I had nothing to write and post in it. And although I have gone back to work I’ve not felt able to resume posting on that site. Part of the reason is simply that the web site is filling up and I am close to the limit of the number of files that it can handle, 262,144. To continue with My London Diary and this blog I would need to move to a more expensive solution, and I may in any case soon have to delete some older content. In past years I’ve always used pictures from My London Diary on these cards – but this year there were no new pictures on line.

So this year I chose one of the many pictures I’ve made on my walks and bike rides while I’ve been isolating, a winter scene from Staines Moor, a mile or so from my home. Not Christmassy, but at least it has snow.

i hope you have a good Christmas.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Christmas Eve, Christmas walks

Friday, December 24th, 2021

An acre of America at Runnymede

Christmas Eve, Christmas walks. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on Christmas Eve. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to be able to help with the final preparations for Christmas – things like going to collect our order from the butcher, wrapping presents… But there is sometimes time for a walk.

Sculptures and the Old Town Hall, Staines

For many years we’ve invited people to visit on Christmas Eve, to come in and share some home made cakes, biscuits and drinks. Linda has made mulled wine which has gone down well, or mulled apple juice and some of us shared a decent bottle of red, though I often had to drink most of it myself.

Disused railway line, Staines

Our smallish front room often got rather crowded though most of the younger visitors would be upstairs in a bedroom making large and complicated layouts of a Brio railway. There was a lot of talking, sharing news and sometimes some singing together; it is a small room, but still has a piano. We’d often run out of chairs, though we brought more down from upstairs.

Underneath the Staines by-pass

It had rather run down in more recent years, partly because our own two children had left home, but also as friends moved away. But this year it won’t be happening at all. Omicron has made us all rethink. People are wary of inviting others or of responding to invitations. We’ve still got the large Stollen and I expect several different varieties of biscuits will be made, but on Christmas Eve we will be eating them on our own, though we are expecting just a little help from close family in the few days that follow. But then there’s the Christmas Cake to eat as well.

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

But it will be a rather different Christmas to usual. We decided too that we should cancel the family Boxing Day pub meal that had been booked. That means also we won’t be making the five or six mile walk to get there which we needed to get back an appetite after Christmas Day. I’ve already missed the carol service where Linda was in the choir – it seemed an unnecessary risk. And the concert by her choral society last Saturday was cancelled at short notice.

Mead Lake from Devil’s Lane

But we still will have a Christmas dinner with some family – if rather fewer of them than previous years, and I’m sure we will still go out for some walks. We will still have presents to share and still enjoy ourselves, but it won’t be quite the same.

Thorpe

The pictures here are from our walks in 2013. Since there is no public transport here on Christmas Day and little or none on Boxing Day our walks are all close to our home. You can see more of them in Walks around Staines.


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Xmas Protests – Low Wages, Evictions, John Lewis – 2014

Monday, December 13th, 2021

Three Xmas Protests – Low wages, Evictions, John Lewis – in Brixton, Mayfair and Oxford St on December 14th 2014.

‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage

Lambeth Living Wage campaigners, led by an impressive Santa, protested in and outside shops in the centre of Brixton, handing out flyers calling for all workers to be paid a living wage. They urged shop workers to join a union and gave out forms.

While I was with them they visited department store Morleys, Subway and Poundland and they were going on to other stores in Brixton paying poverty wages. The protest was supported by Unite the Resistance, the Socialist Party, Unison (who provided the Santa costume), the Fast Food Rights Hungry for Justice campaign supported by the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union, BFWAWU, the National Shop Stewards Network and other groups.

‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage


Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’

Scrooge at Christmas 2014 was US property developers Westbrook Partners who were intending to evict the tenants of the Hackney New Era Estate by Christmas so they can refurbish these low rent social properties and re-let them at market rents at roughly four times the current rents. Class War and friends protested at their Mayfair offices of in solidarity with the tenants.

Class War came with banners and posters and a Christmas Card which they presented to Westbrook with the message ‘Christmas Greetings! – but not for Rich Bastards’ and a pictures of wrapped gifts and the cover image from Ian Bone’s autobiography ‘BASH THE RICH’. It’s an interesting read and might make a friend a good Christmas Present, available from Freedom Press at a special discount.

This was one of a number of protests by the residents, Class War and other housing activists, with a video by Russell Brand going viral and a petition with 350,000 signatures that led to Hackney Council entering into talks with Westbrook and resulted in the estate being sold to the affordable housing group Dolphin Living.

Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’


Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis

Many shoppers who can afford it go to John Lewis to buy Christmas presents, but members of te IWGB trade union and supporters including some John Lewis customers were there not to buy gifts but calling for the London Living Wage for cleaners there and an end to their treatment as second-class citizens. Many of the Christmas shoppers applauded their noisy protest.

I met the cleaners on the top floor of the store where they had gathered in the restaurant before getting out banners and flags and a megaphone, with IWGB organiser Alberto Durango used to inform customers why they were holding the protest.

The together with a group of John Lewis customers they slowly and loudly made their way around the top floor to the escalator, moving carefully through the gangways to avoid any damage.

They made their way down floor by floor, pausing on the balconies to display their banners.

John Lewis security staff and managers met the protesters and asked them to stop protesting and leave the store. They continued their way protesting until they reached the ground floor, where police stopped them from leaving. Here the situation became confused, with a great deal of unnecessary pushing by the police which blurred many of the pictures I made. The protesters were trying to get out, store security was pushing them out and the police were pushing them back. Eventually most of the protesters managed to get past the police and the protest continued on the pavement outside. The protest inside the store had been totally non-violent for a little over a quarter of an hour and had the police not decided to push the protesters back they would simply have walked out.

A police officer made an attempt to seize the amplifier the protesters were using, but they held onto it and eventually he gave up. At least one person was arrested and carried out of the store by police, though I think charges were later dropped.

Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis


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Christmas Is Coming – 2014

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Three of the four posts I made on December 6th 2014 had a Christmas theme, with two of them around the then annual Santacon event in London. In 2014, around a thousand Santas were gathering on Clapham Common and more at two other locations in East and North London, along with the odd elf, reindeer to start to a day-long alcohol-fuelled crawl through London, eventually meeting up somehere in the centre of the city in the early evening.

I followed them for a short distance, but I’d actually come to Clapham for an entirely different event, the South London March for Free Education, part of a national day of education activism against tuition fees, where students and supporters including Lambeth Left Unity and South London Defend Education were meeting to march to a rally in Brixton.

It was a rather smaller march than anticipated – perhaps many students were in Santa costumes on another event, or busy with Christmas shopping but I marched around a mile with them taking pictures before getting the tube into Central London.

The Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest! in the area between Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall was organised and performed by Christian Climate Action and Occupy London, and was an entertaining if rather amateur performance starring Westley Ingram who wrote the play and performed as the Angel Gabriel, and George Barda of Occupy who played Joseph with his child as the baby Jesus. It was part of a continuing campaign to get churches to disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

From Westminster I set off in a bus towards north London in search of Santas, jumping off when I saw a red cloud of them in the distance. Or rather ringing the bell and fortunately it was not far from a stop where the driver would open a door. I don’t at all mind wearing a mask for Covid, but still feel something of a loss of freedom over the loss of open-door hop-on, hop-off buses.

Thousands in Santa suits and other Xmas deviations, police trying hard to keep smiling, cans of beer, doubtfully soft drinks, just a few Brussel sprouts in the air, crowded bars, sprawling mass of mainly young people having fun on the streets of London. Santacon!

I’d met a couple of photographer friends also out photographing the Santas and they packed up and left as the light fell, while I continued working with flash for another quarter of hour or so, until a phone call alerted me to a pint awaiting me in a local pub. I’d been photographing people drinking for hours but all that had passed my lips to that point was water, and I was ready to break that particular fast with a little Christmas celebration.

Santacon North London
Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest!
South London March for Free Education
Santacon Start in Clapham

Christmas Greetings

Friday, December 25th, 2020

I’m writing this a couple of days before Christmas, as I hope not to be spending much time on my computer on Christmas Day, and certainly not working on it, though of course it won’t be Christmas as usual.

Here is the picture from the Christmas Card picture that I’ve already sent to some of my photographer friends (other people get more normal cards from Traidcraft as they might not appreciate some of the things I’ve chosen some years.)

I had to use a picture from December 2019 as I’d not been out to take any suitable images this year.

I hope you’ll all have a good day; at least I think mine will be a little more relaxed than usual though of course I’ll miss seeing family members; doubtless some will appear on Skype. But it isn’t the same.

I’ll still drink a glass or two of a decent wine and still decline the Chrismas pudding in favour of some ice cream, perhaps with some homemade bamble sorbet. If the weather is fine the two of us here will perhaps go for a walk after our Christmas dinner. We certainly won’t watch that speech, in line with my Christmas tradition of avoiding it for at least 60 years.

And perhaps we will look at some photographs or watch a film. And try hard to avoid the tedious jollity of Christmas radio (and TV) programming. It won’t be a bad day here even if there is much we will miss. One thing I’ll be glad to miss this year is the travelling, not on Christmas Day itself but usually on the days before or around the New Year, long journeys in over-crowded trains.

So my best wishes for today to you all. And let’s just hope that things will soon be better.

Santa time

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

I’m still rather in denial over Christmas, kind of hoping it will go away. Not that I don’t enjoy most of the things we won’t be doing this year, meeting up with friends, visiting distant family and so on, but somehow I never manage to get myself organised over things like Christmas Cards and presents until the last minute.

This year I did try, and a few weeks ago pored over the many Christmas catalogues that I’d been sent, and then went on line to make some orders – only to find that everything I had chosen was already sold out. It rubbed salt into the wound to then get e-mails from a couple of the companies promoting items that I’d already tried to order without success.

Christmas decorations outside houses began going up early this year – already some were twinkling away in mid-November. Linda brought home a tree a week ago, and I should have photographed her coming home with the pot at its base wedged tightly in her cycle pannier, but couldn’t summon up the energy. I did help her in the difficult task of extracting it from the pannier, and for the moment it is sitting outside in our back garden. We always buy growing trees, and usually they last a couple of Christmases before getting too large to bring inside. We have two specimens now at over 50ft in our smallish back garden, and I’ve had to cut down a couple more over the years when it was beginning to get too crowded.

Although I’ve never myself dressed up as Santa (though I have the beard if I let it grow a bit) in past years I’ve often enjoyed photographing Santacon in London around this time of years. It began as a gloriously anarchic event with hundreds or thousands of Father and Mother Christmases, elves and reindeer spilling rather drunkenly across the city streets, but then the police stepped in as it was disrupting the spending festival on one of the busiest shopping days before Christmas.

These pictures of Santacon come from Dec 6th 2014 and I probably went as far as wearing a Santa hat to join in the festivities for an hour or so before retiring to a small pub a little off their route where a couple of friends were waiting for a rather quieter celebration.

Here’s my text from My London Diary where there are more pictures from Santacon:

Thousands in Santa suits and other Xmas deviations, police trying hard to keep smiling, cans of beer, doubtfully soft drinks, just a few Brussel sprouts in the air, crowded bars, sprawling mass of mainly young people having fun on the streets of London. Santacon

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2014/12/dec.htm#santas

Of course this – and the extreme shopping were not the only things happening in London that day. After photographing the Santas at one of their three starting points I then joined the South London March for Free Education against tuition fees which was also starting just a few yards away on Clapham Common.

After marching with them through Clapham on their way to Brixton I took the tube to Westminster where there was a rather more Christmassy event taking place, a Fossil Free Nativity Play by Christian Climate Action, before leaving to join the North London Santas on the Euston Road.

More at:
Santacon North London
Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest!
South London March for Free Education
Santacon Start in Clapham


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.