Posts Tagged ‘coffin’

End Traffic Violence – 2014

Monday, November 15th, 2021

A few weeks ago I came to the end of a walk with friends and we stood at a bus stop on the edge of the A3 in south-west London with a relentless flow of traffic moving past in all four lanes in both directions. We were a few yards away on a slip road, but the noise was making my head throb and I could smell and taste the pollution, though I hope the Covid mask I was wearing might filter out some of the particulates. It was a horrible reminder of the mad dedication to traffic which is killing so many of us, poisoning adults and particularly children and playing a significant role in killing the planet through the huge carbon emissions in manufacturing vehicles, building yet more roads and of course burning fossil fuels. Fortunately our bus came earlier than expected.

The switch to electric cars will help a little, and reduce some of the pollution, though not its possibly most dangerous aspect, the particulates that come mainly from rubber tyres and from brakes. And there is still a huge carbon footprint from their manufacture – roughly equivalent to running around 150,000 miles of burning petrol or diesel, and much of the electricity used to power them will come from power stations burning gas or forest-destroying wood.

We can only have a sustainable future if we wean ourselves as a species away from travel, and take what journeys are still necessary by ways that reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. Going on foot or by bicycle, using public transport and severely limiting the more polluting and high-carbon forms of transport. It means measures such as banning private cars in cities, giving priorities to buses, building more light rail and tram systems, ending subsidies to air travel, stopping new road-building and more. But also it means great changes in our way of life.

It’s something I realised over 50 years ago when I sold the only car I’d ever owned. Something I considered very carefully in choosing where to live and what jobs to take. And something which has constrained the holidays I’ve chosen to take and other aspects of my life, but not anything I really regret. I’ve only ever made three trips by air related to my work – where no real alternative was possible, and only taken two holidays which involved flights.

Of course there are some things and situations where cars are essential. It’s very hard to manage without one for those who live in more remote areas, and some need to. I’ve chosen always to live in towns or cities and have been healthy enough to be able to ride a bicycle or walk. In 2019, George Monbiot wrote for the Guardian a piece with the sub-head ‘Cars are ruining our lives. We should cut their use by 90% over the next 10 years’. Like other posts on his web site its worth reading and goes into much greater and well-argued detail than this piece.

Donnachadh McCarthy

On 15th November 2014 I photographed the ‘Funeral for the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence’ organised by environmental campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy and ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’. It made its way through the centre of London from Bedford Square going along Oxford St, with a bagpiper playing and a horse-drawn hearse carrying a coffin for a mock funeral ceremony at Marble Arch.

It made the point that while too many pedestrians and cyclists are still killed and maimed by cars and lorries on a road system largely engineered for the convenience of motorised transport, their numbers are dwarfed by the many thousands of premature deaths each year caused by the pollution from road traffic, with pollution levels in many places being well above legal limits. After the funeral, there was a die-in by cyclists more or less filling the hard standing at Marble Arch, and a trumpeter sounded the Last Post.

Here is a list of the demands made by the protesters:

  1. Stop the Killing of Children with a national, multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones and abolish dangerous rat-runs.
  2. Stop the Killing of Pedestrians by a national programme to fund pedestrianisation of our city and town centres, including the nation’s high-street, Oxford Street.
  3. Stop the Killing of Pensioners from excessive speed with an enforced speed limit of 20 mph on all urban roads, 40 mph on rural roads/lanes and 60 mph on all other trunk roads.
  4. Stop the Killing of Cyclists, investing£15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network over the next 5 years.
  5. Stop the Killing by HGVs by banning trucks with blind spots, making safety equipment mandatory and strictly enforcing current truck-safety regulations; currently around 30% are illegally dangerous.
  6. Stop the Killing without liability with a presumed civil liability law for vehicular traffic when they kill or seriously injure vulnerable road-users, unless there is evidence blaming the victim.
  7. Stop the Killing from Lung, Heart and other Diseases caused by vehicular pollutants with mandatory for particulate filters that meet latest EU emission standards on all existing buses, lorries and taxis.
  8. Stop the Killing at Junctions with pedestrian crossing times long enough for elderly disabled to cross, filtered junction crossings by cyclists and strict legal priority for pedestrians and urgently provide physically protected left-hand turns for cyclists.
  9. Stop the Killing from Climate Crisis caused by CO2 emissions by insisting that all transport fuels are from truly environmentally-sustainable, renewable sources within 10 years.
  10. Focus on Life! with transport governance making safety and quality of life the top priority. Reform all council transport departments, the Department of Transport and Transport for London into Cycling, Walking and Transport Departments with formal pedestrian and cyclist representation.

Again you can read more detail and more evidence in Guardian posts by George Monbiot, available on his own web site such as Don’t Breathe.


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30 Sept 2007 – Two Religious Events

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Martydom of Ali

On Sunday 30th September 2007 I photographed two events in London connected with religion, the first Muslim and the second organised by Christian Aid.

Shia Muslims hold a large parade every year mourn the martydom of Ali, a cousin who grew up the the house of the prophet Muhammad and was one of the first to profess his belief when the prophet disclosed his divine revelation when Ali was around ten years old. Later he married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and was a great warrior and leader and one of the foremost Islamic scholars.

Ali was elected as the fourth Caliph at a time when civil wars were taking place between Muslims following the death of his predecessor, and he fought in a number of battles, eventually being assassinated in 661 CE by a member of a group who regarded him as a heretic while praying in the mosque at Kufa, now in Iraq. Many of the details of events around this time are disputed.

Ali is one of the central figures of Shia Islam and they regard him as having been the rightful successor to Muhammad while Sunni Muslims supported the father-in-law of Muhammad, Abu Bakr who became the first Caliph. The split led to various battles but only became a schism almost 20 years after Ali’s death, when Ali’s son Husayn and family were killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.

The ceremonies which involve a procession with an elaborate flower-decorated coffin, and tall banners about Ali, began at Marble Arch with a long period of mourning. There was much beating of breasts and then a procession moving very slowly down Park Lane with much continued mourning and beating of breasts. The men march in one group and then the women behind them, the two groups separated by the bier. Many of the men are stripped to the waist and their bodies become reddened by their powerful beating.

It’s an impressive event which I photographed on several occasions. The stewards at the event have sometimes told me “We do not photograph the ladies” but I’ve also had emails from some of the women thanking me for recording their participation in the ceremony.

Cut the Carbon

An event of a very different nature was taking place at St Mary’s Battersea, a church with fine views across the River Thames that Turner sat at window above the entrance to record – and a window inside remembers him, with another for William Blake, along with some splendid monuments, one with a relief illustrating Edward Wynter’s feats of crushing a tiger to death and overcoming 60 mounted moors.

I was there with others to photograph the arrival of Christian Aid’s ‘cut the carbon’ march, arriving in London at the end of a thousand mile journey from Bangor in Northern Ireland via Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle On Tyne, Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff to London – including a detour to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth. The following day they were going on to City Hall and then to finish at St Paul’s Cathedral.

This was a march 14 years ago with an international perspective on climate change, with walkers from Brazil, El Salvador, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Congo and elsewhere. When I photographed it the following day in front of Tower Bridge it was led by marchers from Brazil representing an organisation of landless farm workers – and I was very pleased a few months later to include picture of them in my show on environment protests as a part of Foto Arte 2007 in Brasilia.

More at:
Mourning the Martydom of Ali
Cut the Carbon march

and on October 1st 2007
Christian aid Cut the Carbon march – final mile


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.


ATOS Olympics 2012

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Protesters outside the DWP where DPAC activists have occupied the lobby.

2012 was of course the year that London suffered the Olympics, which had been creating problems in East London since London was awarded the games in 2005. I’d photographed a number of event related to the games, both protests against it and others using it as a theme, as well as taking pictures around its perimeter and views into the site on Stratford Marsh, an area I’d photographed since the 1980s and which features strongly in my 2011 book ‘Before the Olympics‘.

With the games came the Paralympics, held a few days after the end of the main event on 29 August to 9 September 2012. Although these games were generally held to be a great success, and to have considerably raised the profile of disabled sport, there was criticism from many disabled groups about IT company Atos being the technology provider and sponsor of the games.

Atos Olympic medals and Atos Olympic flame

Atos was responsible for the work capability assessments for the Dept of Work & Pensions, and had clearly been both incompetent and discriminatory in this, finding many disabled people incorrectly fit for work to meet targets designed to cut the cost of benefits. Many who appealed the decisions were found to have been incorrectly assessed, but often shortly after this were called for another assessment and again wrongly found fit. It drove some disabled people to suicide.

Some disabled athletes obscured the Atos logo on their passes in protest, while activist groups led by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a week of action against Atos to coincide with the Paralympics, beginning with a spoof Opening Ceremony for the Atos Games in front of Tower Bridge.

DPAC made it clear that this is not a protest against sports or those taking part in the Paralympics, but against the government and Atos:

"We’re not against the Paralympics or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.

Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000 sick and disabled people every week, then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’."
Tara Flood celebrates her second gold medal

One of those taking part in the opening ceremony was Tara Flood a Paralympic swimmer who won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic games as well as 2 silver and 4 bronzes there and in the two other games she took part in. Along with two activists in wheelchairs she got on the podium and was awarded another gold medal and the others silver and bronze.

Paralympian gold medal winner Tara Flood is stripped of her gold medal and blue badge

Then along came an ATOS doctor who administered a fitness for work test, first on Tara. She was found fit to work and the gold medal was cut off and her disabled parking card taken away; the others were also found fit to work, losing their medals and benefits too.

The ATOS Games continued, and on Wednesday 29th I photographed DPAC deliver a coffin to the ATOS offices in Triton Square. Friday 31 saw them again outside the ATOS offices for the Closing Atos Ceremony which included the Atos Miracle Cure, making disabled people fit for work.

As the closing ceremony was coming to an end there was a special announcement that there would be another action elsewhere and eventually we learnt that some disabled activists had entered and occupied the lobby of the DWP.

I jumped on a bus, but should have taken the underground as the traffic was heavy in places, but I still got there before the main crowd who had travelled from the protest at the Atos offices. Police would not let them join the 20 or so who were inside so they protested on the pavement in front of the building. There were speeches and then a lot of minor scuffles when police tried to push the protesters back and I had to leave before the protest ended.

More on My London Diary:
DPAC Occupy Dept of Work & Pensions
Closing Atos Ceremony
Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims
Opening Ceremony for the Atos Games


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.


XR Funeral Procession

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

It was perhaps surprising that Extinction Rebellion’s occupation of Parliament Square acheived less publicity in the media than that of the other occupations in April, despite starting with arguably the most colourful (and most musical) of the events of the eleven days, a New Orleans style jazz funeral procession.

The roads around the square were blocked as I arrived to photograph the procession, much to the annoyance of at least one taxi driver, who made an ill-advised attempt to drive through the protesters before giving up and turning around. But this isn’t a major junction like those at Oxford Circus or Marble Arch, not really even a major route, and one which I’ve long thought should be pedestrianised and permanently closed to all but essential traffic to make London more pleasant for Londoners and tourists.

Again, the protest in Parliament Square didn’t have the kind of permanent focus provided by the Waterloo Garden Bridge, or the pink yacht of the sea at Oxford Circus. And it was hard to see what might have provided that, though a large guillotine might have been popular with some. But what Parliament Square did have was a spectacle, a funeral procession led by a small jazz group in front of the coffin, and behind it giant skeletons and a bright red-clad group apparently representing the blood of extinct species – and of those species including our own soon to become extinct.

There were other mourners too, people with placards and some giant bees among them as the procession made several slow circuits of the square before moving onto the grass. They didn’t actually bury the coffin (or try to) but there followed a series of workshops and group discussions, and after a while I left to photograph another event that had been taking place at the same time.

The procession perhaps would have made better video that still pictures, both because of the nature of the event but particularly for the music.


More at Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession

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