Posts Tagged ‘dancing’

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur 2008

Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur: On Sunday morning 25th May 2008 I made my way to Red Lion Square in Holborn to photograph the Pagain Pride public procession. Later I went to Downing Street were protesters were meeting to march to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy calling for Sudanese war criminals to be brought to justice.


Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash – Red Lion Square/Russell Square

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Pagans – or rather neo-Pagans had come to Conway Hall in the corner of Red Lion Square for a day of celebration of the ancient Spring festival of Beltane, celebrating coming out of winter and the springing of the world into growth.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As well as their private celebrations inside the hall they were also taking part in a public procession, Pagan Pride, which goes the short distance to the fountain in Russell Square for a joyful celebration before returning to Conway Hall.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Nature and the cyclical nature of the seasons plays a central part in pagan beliefs and Godesses and Gods linked with nature play an important role in their ceremonies.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As I commented in 2008 nature appeared “not to be too kind to them as the rain bucketed down as the participants were supposed to gather, with only a few braver members (and some with umbrellas) coming out of the hall, but fortunately for them and the photographers it soon eased off, finally almost stopping as the parade got under way.”

That circular fountain in the garden of Russell Square “could have been designed with them in mind, with a strongly phallic character in the water jets, which in normal use rise and fall, but were left to flow at full strength for most of the ceremony.” In 2008 it was open for everyone to play in but on more recent visits I have noticed it is now surrounded by a fence.

At first the group danced around the fountain in rings with hands joined, but then many of them started to run through the centre, many getting soaked.”

Even the drummers, who at first stood on the edge providing a rhythm for the dance, eventually ran though the jets, and finally the Green Man also did so.

By the time the parade left the square for its return to Conway Hall I’d had enough, and my feet and legs were soaked.

I left with a friend to go and have a cup of tea before going to Whitehall for a very different event.

More pictures at Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash.


Justice for Darfur – London Protest; Whitehall – Sudanese Embassy

Around 200 people, mainly from the Sudan, had gathered opposite Downing Street for a noisy protest before marching to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy opposite St James’s Palace in London.

The Justice for Darfur campaign was supported by around 30 organisations including the Aegis Trust, an international organization working to prevent genocide, Amnesty International and Darfur Union UK, who organised this event together with Aegis Students.

The campaign began when the Sudanese government refused to had over two men to the International Criminal Court. Sudan’s former Minister of the Interior Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb were wanted on 51 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from persecution, rapes and murder of civilians in four West Darfur villages.

Haroun had even been promoted to be responsible for humanitarian affairs, and Kushayb, who had been in jail facing other charges when the ICC warrants were issued has been released.

In 2005 the UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes listed 52 people for investigation and placards named some of these calling for them to be brought to justice. They included Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, Saleh Gosh, head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service, Minister of the Federation Government Nafi Ali Nafi and former Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman.

Earlier that month there had been fresh reports of beatings, detentions and shooting of Darfuri civilians in Khartoum and Omdurman but little had appeared in the UK mainstream press and they had sent no photographers or reporters to the event. It was one of those protests that later one photographer told me his editor dismisses as “tribal matters“.

More pictures at Justice for Darfur.


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Brighton MayDay Protest & Party – 2011

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

Brighton MayDay Protest & Party – On Saturday 30 April 2011 I had a day out in Brighton, not with my bucket and spade on the beach but photographing an early May Day Protest against the cuts, bankers, tax dodgers and those damaging the environment and the local community.

Brighton MayDay Protest & Party

It was a protest organised deliberately without consultation with the police, essentially a succession of static protests at a number of locations around the city in random order, selected by the throwing of a large dice.

Brighton MayDay Protest & Party

Even the meeting point for the day was a closely kept secret and only revealed as I arrived in Brighton half an hour before the event was due to start, posted on Twitter, Facebook and a mobile number.

Brighton MayDay Protest & Party

I arrived to join around a dozen other photographers and a couple of plain clothes police watching around the same number of protesters, but had passed several police vans and a couple of officers on police horses just a short distance away.

Brighton MayDay Protest & Party

The protesters handed out a map of Brighton marked with 27 possible targets including arms manufacturers EDO MBM/ITT some way out in Moulscomb and Thales, several branches of Barclays, the UK’s largest investor in the arms trade, an armed forces recruitment centre and Marks & Spencer’s who support Israel by buying goods from illegal Israeli settlements. Other shops on the list included notable tax dodgers Vodaphone, Boots and the various Arcadia group brands – Topshop, BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins. Accused of damaging the environment were RBS who invest hugely in the area, Shell, particularly for their Rossport pipeline in Ireland, BP for their exploitation of tar sands, E.ON for coal fired power stations and Veolia. Other targets named included Brighton Town Hall, Tescos, Sainsburys and Starbucks, Fox & Sons involved in illegal evictions, Beyond Retro who sell fur and also two properties owned by the notorious Nicholas Van Hoogstraten.

At 12.30, by which time rather more protesters had arrived, a giant dice was thrown and came down on 4 which meant we were heading to Brighton Town Hall and the protesters set off, accompanied by the police and the two horses.

But although the protesters were clearly in carnival mode, the police were not and soon were stopping and harassing them.

They grabbed a few protesters apparently more or less at random and there were some minor scuffles as police kettled the protest in Duke Street for around 40 minutes.

The protesters danced while some tried to negotiate with the police and finally they were allowed to move off to hold a rally outside two banks with speeches about the cuts and handouts to bankers.

The protesters then tried to walk into the Pavillion Gardens, a few managing to do so before police decided to block the gates. There were a few more incidents and a couple of arrests, but after around 20 minutes the officer in charge decided there was really no reason why they should not walk through the gardens – and they did, to the cheers of those sitting on the grass and enjoying a picnic.

Police continued to chase the protesters around Brighton for the next couple of hours, though they seemed to be going around in circles and making occasional sudden changes in direction to leave the police – some of whom were noticeably less fit than the protesters or even the photographers – behind.

Police made at least one more arrest and the protesters eventually returned to the promenade where some sat down on the road. For the first time there was a clear message from the police that they would be kettled unless they got up, and they did, running up the hill again (with another arrest for no clear reason) before returning to party on the beach.

I rather doubt if any of those – at least 8 – arrested on the day ended up being charged, let alone convicted. The police were clearly totally confused by the event, and their response, particularly the use of police horses in some very restricted areas, put both protesters and public at risk. But I think also that the protesters rather failed to convey clearly to the people of Brighton their concerns. Perhaps and more organised series of rallies outside a more selected group of targets would have been more effective.

More detail about the protest and many more pictures on My London Diary at Brighton MayDay Protest.


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Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Monday, August 28th, 2023

Notting Hill Carnival 2006: On Monday 28th Aug 2006 I went to photograph Notting Hill Carnival, working with both black and white film and digital colour. In most of my carnival pictures I’ve concentrated on the people attending the event rather than the costumes and I did so on this occasion with the black and white, but for the colour I decided to mainly photograph those taking part in the carnival as the pictures here show.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Rather unusually my August 2006 page only starts on Friday 25th, when I went to Greenhithe & Swanscombe Marsh. I’d been away from London most of the month, holidaying with friends in Kent, visiting Paris and staying with family in Beeston and decided it wasn’t appropriate to post pictures from these locations on My London Diary.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

In 2006 I went on both Sunday 17th, the Children’s Day and the main carnival event on the Monday, but the pictures here are all from the Monday. You can see those from Children’s Day on a link from the August Page of My London Diary.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

I’ve always had a fairly elastic definition of London, and it stretched some way out along the River Thames both upstream and down, and also taking in the London Loop, a section of which I walked with family the following day.

Notting Hill Carnival 2006

Sunday had been a busy day too. Notting Hill only really gets going after lunch, so I had time to go to East Ham in the morning for the Sri Mahalakshmi Temple Chariot Festival and then call in at Bromley-by-Bow and walk to Stratford and photograph again the Bow Back Rivers before going to Children’s Day.

So I think I was probably fairly tired by the time Monday came around, having done rather a lot of cycling and walking over the past three days, as well as taking a great many pictures.

As I pointed out, it was “two years on from when I last photographed the event.” The previous year I had “tried to go, dragging myself to the station with a knee injury, but the pain was too much to continue. This year my knee held out, though I was glad to sink into a seat on the Underground at Latimer Road at the end of the day.

I also wrote “when I’ll get round to processing the film is anyone’s guess” and the answer was not for a very long time – and then I sent it away for processing rather than do it myself. By 2006 I had almost completely committed to digital for its many advantages and this was one of my final flings with film. The “more pictures soon” with which the piece ends was an aspiration never fulfilled online and I’ve yet to print any of the black and white pictures.

Perhaps the reason for this – and why I probably won’t get to Carnival this afternoon – is “because I’m getting older … I didn’t get the same buzz from this year’s event as in previous years, though most of the same things seemed to be around. perhaps there lies the problem; most of them did seem to be the same.”

But Notting Hill Carnival is still one of London’s great spectacles – and a great fashion show on the street. If you’ve never been it’s very much worth attending.

More pictures on My London Diary.



Hoxton Olympic Hand Over 2008

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over: On Sunday 24th August 2008, fifteen years ago the Olympics were officially handed over from Beijing to London. To mark this, events were arranged in Hoxton, part of Hackney, one of the three London Boroughs in which the main Olympic site was being developed.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over
A critical point in the slow race at the Hoxton Austerity Olympics

Hackney Council hoped that they would gain some money for regeneration from the huge Olympic spending, though it is difficult to find much evidence that it did in any way improve the borough. They had arranged what turned out to be a very boring event in Shoreditch Park with a giant TV screen showing events from Beijing and some performances and speeches. It was very poorly attended – probably only by a few council officials and families of the local kids who ran a few races or took part in the displays and singing. I took a few pictures – including one showing both the Union Jacks being waved in the park, but soon left for the more interesting local event – a 1948 Street party – in Hoxton Street.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

The previous London Olympics in 1948 were arranged on a shore-string budget when the whole country was still under rationing and still recovering from the war. They made use of existing facilities and were truly an ‘Austerity Olympics’. But they were also a very successful event.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

Back then the athletes were truly amateurs, taking time off from work to compete and training outside their work hours. Now, particularly since lottery funding it is a massively professional affair, with billions going into Olympic sports, and little if any of the original Olympic ideals remain.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

Studies published in 2016 reveal that London 2012 was the most expensive Summer Olympics in history, costing $15 billion, overrunning its original budget by 76%. The organisers doubled the estimate after winning the bid, then claimed that they had come in under budget in what the study describes as “deliberate misinformation of the public about cost and cost overrun” saying it “treads a fine line between spin and outright lying“.

But the figures are actually a huge underestimate of the actual cost, as they exclude “indirect capital costs, such as the money spent on upgrading the local transport infrastructure”, much of which is inappropriate to current needs or the future development of the area.

In contrast, the total spending on the 1948 Olympics was £732,268, equivalent in 2012 allowing for inflation to around £16 million, only just over one thousandth of the cost of London 2012. And the 1948 cost was a little under budget and was more than paid for by ticket sales – there was a profit of over £29,000.

Hoxton had decided to put on a ‘1948 Street Party’ in the area of Hoxton St where the market takes place, and there were shops, museums and various local organisations taking part and putting on events and displays.

Back in 2008 I wrote:

I’d had a very nice cup of tea served in 1948 style china by a “nippy”, and in the street were tea parties (with free cakes) and displays of boxing, jitterbugging and various objects from the 1940s kitchen (almost all of which we still use here, including a pastry blender – and no, it isn’t used to make bread.) Pearlies came in force and had a sing-song round the joanna.

Of course there was a bar, and there was also a little welcome madness in the section of road where the Hackney Austerity Olympics was taking place. It was of course highly appropriate, as the last Olympic Games held here were very much run on a shoe-string in 1948.

There was dancing on the street and everyone was having a good time. Including the ‘Free Hackney Movement’ Space Hijackers who arrived in what they call a tank to celebrate the handover of the protest torch for the Olympics from the Free Tibet protesters to Free Hackney.

The Free Hackney protest sees London 2012 as a great opportunity for property developers to rip us off and make obscene profits building luxury flats in the area, while at the same time restricting public access, closing down the existing free facilities and demolishing social housing and local businesses. So far its hard to argue against their case given the closure of local sports facilities including the closure of the Temple Mills cycle circuit and the removal of the Manor Gardens allotments and the wholesale clearance of small local firms which were based on Stratford Marsh.

There are a few locally based companies that have done well from their move, but more that have moved outside the area or closed down, with a loss of jobs in the area. There has also been considerable development of tall blocks of flats, but mainly for private sale or student accommodation which has done little if anything for the huge housing problems faced by local residents who want to remain in Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Newham.

Of course the London 2012 Olympics did give pleasure to many in the UK and around the world who watched the events, including the relatively few who bought tickets and watched them live. But any overall economic benefit for the UK – as claimed by the government – is debatable and given the extreme cost in any case marginal. Personally I find the media induced hysteria generated by the media around sporting events such as this objectionable and feel it is bad for the moral health of the country which needs a greater emphasis on the social and less on individual achievements of a tiny minority.

More at
Free Hackney Movement
Hoxton Handover – 1948 Street party


VE Day 2005

Monday, May 8th, 2023

May 8th is VE Day, celebrating the end of the war in Europe on May 8th 1945. In France it is a national and public holiday, and other countries celebrate it too, even with events in Germany celebrating those who opposed Nazism. Russia and some other countries celebrate Victory Day on 9th May. We had the early May bank holiday moved to May 8th for the 50th and 75 anniversaries in 1995 and 2020, but otherwise it is not hugely observed.

But 2005 was the 60th anniversary, and VE Day fell on a Sunday, and there were events taking place on both Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th which I photographed. Here I’ll post some pictures and what I posted about the events in 2005.


VE Day Commemorated – Ilford, 7 May, 2005

VE Day 2005

60 Years ago, my view of the world was dark, wet and warm and I was almost certainly unaware of what was happening outside, and I think my mother’s part in the VE day celebrations will have been fairly muted and sedentary, though I’m sure both she and my father (the first war had taken him to Germany, but this one only got his as far as Potters Bar on his bike to inspect the bees) shared the feelings of the nation.

VE Day 2005

I wanted to avoid the large stage-managed media events. Couldn’t stand the thought of Vera Lynn and Cliff Richard, or the Prince Of Wales. So I went to Ilford to see how the people in Redbridge were commemorating the occasion.

VE Day 2005

A couple of small groups playing mainly forties jazz tunes, some dancing, kids and oldies having fun, balloons, uniformed ‘statues’, free tea, a few veterans and a small but informative museum display made a pleasant afternoon in the high street.

more pictures on My London Diary.


VE Day Parade – Bromley, 8th May 2005

VE Day 2005

Sunday afternoon I attended a more formal event in Bromley, which seems to have more uniformed organisations than any other London borough, and the forces were out in force. Marching behind the bagpipes came the veterans, most looking surprisingly well despite their age, and with medals to show for their service around the world. One showed me his Russian medal for service in the Baltic, others had been in the far east as well as Africa and Europe.

The parade to Norman Park was joined by more veterans and supporters in buses, as well as a number of vintage vehicles, civil and military. At the park, the mayor, the bishop and a team of other clergy joined up for a drumhead service in a large tented area, holding well over a thousand people.

A few of the veterans felt this was one church parade too many and like me made for the beer tent. Perhaps like me they had also called in to the Area of Remembrance on the way. There was an impressive dignity about the veterans and the event seemed a moving tribute to them and their comrades who died.

more pictures on My London Diary.


One Billion Rising, Chaplin & MI6

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

Three sets of photographs I made in London on a wet day nine years ago, Friday 14th February 2014.


One Billion Rising – End Violence Against Women – Trafalgar Square

One Billion Rising, Chaplin & MI6

This was the second worldwide annual ‘One Billion Rising’ with events taking place in 168 countries and women had come to Trafalgar Square to strike, dance and rise in defiance against the injustices suffered by women around the world.

One Billion Rising, Chaplin & MI6

In England and Wales, the Home Office reports that there are an average of 85,000 women raped each year, and 400,000 women sexually assaulted. They report that 1 in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

One Billion Rising, Chaplin & MI6

I arrived in time to photograph the start of the event, and stayed to watch a little dancing on the stage. The dancers there were under a canopy but I and much of the audience got rather wet watching. I wasn’t sorry that I had to leave shortly for an appointment at Downing Street.

One Billion Rising, Chaplin & MI6

More at One Billion Rising – End Violence Against Women.


Charlie Chaplin Climate Chaos – Downing St

My Downing Street appointment was not with the Prime Minister David Cameron, but with a rather better known figure, Charlie Chaplin, or rather his look-alike mime and activist Charlie X.

Given the weather he had abandoned the black trousers for waterproof yellow ones, but otherwise the was dressed as usual with his whited out face, small moustache, bowler hat, black bow tie and jacket. Sensibly as well as his walking stick he had brought an umbrella and had some hazard tape to keep his bowler in place in the high winds.

He was there to make a one-person silent protest over the failure of governments including our own to take real measures to combat carbon dioxide emissions which are causing global warming and climate chaos. At the time many of us across the country were suffering from flooding, with my own home having been under severe threat for almost a week – and left without mains drainage we were having to walk several minutes to a friends to wash and use a toilet that could still be flushed.

Charlie X was also there to draw attention to the dangers of fracking in the UK and show solidarity with communities who are fighting against it in their area. His mimed protest called on Cameron to act green not just talk green and stop listening to the highly funded lobbying by the dirty fuel companies.

Charlie Chaplin Climate Chaos


‘Justice Demands the Truth’ Vigil – MI6, Vauxhall

I was pleased to be able to dry out slightly and get just a little warmer on the bus to Vauxhall were I joined the Save Shaker Aamer campaign who where protesting opposite the well-known MI6 offices there on the 12th anniversary of the British resident’s illegal rendition to Guantanamo in February 2002.

On My London Diary I give more details of the case of this Muslim charity worker who was kidnapped by bandits and sold to the US army and tortured before being taken for rurther torture at the prison camp.

MI6 officers were present during some of the torture and his return to this country would be embarrassing for them. They were widely thought to have been secretly briefing against his return and telling lies to Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary from 2001-6 and later Secretary of State for Justice which he apparently or perhaps conveniently believed.

Shaker’s release to the UK would also embarrass the US security agencies responsible for his continuing torture at Guantanamo where he stood up for his rights and those of other prisoners. Although the US security agencies including the CIA, State and Defense Departments cleared him to be released six years ago, they wanted to release him to his native Saudi Arabia, knowing that as a former dissident he would quickly disappear there without trace.

Because of the continuing rain, after posing for photographs and a short vigil in front of the MI6 building the protesters moved a little further away for a rally on the pavement under one of the railway arches before going to try and hand in a Valentine card for the head of MI6, Sir John Sawer, which stated:

MI6, we would love you to … help us bring Shaker Aamer home. Shaker Aamer, unlawfully imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo for twelve years – he faces no charge or trial- he has been cleared since 2007 to leave Guantanamo. So why is Shaker Aamer still there? Shaker Aamer would love to be at home with his wife and family in the UK. M16, you could help. Tell the truth about torture! MI6 have a heart, don’t block Shaker Aamer’s release to the UK from Guantanamo.”

Security on the gate refused to accept the card, but eventually the protesters simply pushed it through a gap in the gate and left for a final protest opposite the building.

More at ‘Justice Demands the Truth’ Vigil.


Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party 2019

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party
Kingsland High St, Dalston, London. Sat 9 Feb 2019

Extinction Rebellion, XR, was founded in May 2018 by a small group who met in Stroud, including Gail Bradbook, Simon Bramwell and Roger Hallam along with others from the direct action network Rising Up. I’d photographed some of these people before at protests against Heathrow expansion and over air pollution on the streets of London.

Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party

Roger Hallam in particular had played a leading role in the ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ protests which perhaps had some influence on getting Sadiq Khan to take some action on this with the setting up of low emission zones, whose planned extension to the whole of Greater London is now exciting considerable controversy. I’d also photographed him at his campaign to get King’s College to divest from fossil fuel companies and supporting the campaign for better pay and conditions for low paid workers at the LSE

Police arrest Roger Hallam at the LSE
Police arrest Roger Hallam for decorating the LSE, April 2017

Since helping to form XR, Hallam has gone on to take part in other high profile protests and spent time in prison over breaching bail conditions by holding a toy drone without batteries close to the airport. The whole plan to fly drones in the Heathrow exclusion area had been a publicity stunt, never a serious attempt to disrupt or endanger flights, but gained a huge amount of media publicity, which perhaps helped to increase public awareness of the contribution to climate change and pollution of air transport.

Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party

XR continues to attract wide support for its non-violent protests highlighting both the devastating effects of global heating and the continuing failure of governments including our own to take action on the scale needed to combat it. It’s large public protests began with a mass reading of its ‘Declaration of Rebellion‘ in Parliament Square in October 2018 with Greta Thunberg as one of the speakers and continued with mass protests in London and elsewhere, becoming a global movement.

Its announcement at the start of 2023 that it was taking a rest caused some consternation among its supporters, but XR soon made clear that this was for a ‘100 days’ campaign to prepare for ‘The Big One’ on 21 April 2023, https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/ when they intend that 100,000 people will gather outside the Houses of Parliament “To demand a fair society and a citizen-led end to the fossil fuel era.”

The street party in Hackney on Saturday 9th February 2019 was rather smaller, with perhaps a thousand taking part. Unlike in some later protests the police decided to facilitate the event rather than try to block or disperse it, closing the road and setting up diversions for traffic as people blocked the usually busy A10 for two hours with speeches, music and spoken word performances, t-shirt printing, face painting and free food, with dancing to a samba band.

At the end of the two hour party after a brief march up and down a short section of the road, the protesters moved off the street to continue their protest party in Gillett Square, and shortly after this I went home.

Police after all do facilitate other large events which block our streets, in particular sporting events such as the London Marathon, some cycling events, the Chinese New Year, Notting Hill Carnival and more. But later XR protests have been more widespread and longer lasting and clearly the police’s political masters have put considerable pressure on the police to take a more draconian approach – and at times to go beyond the law to do so.

The response of the government has been to produce new laws. The Public Order Bill currently going through parliament gives much more extreme powers to police and courts, including Serious Disruption Prevention Orders which will restrict the movement of people, who they can meet and even their use of the internet, an expansion of stop and search powers, enabling them to search without any suspicion, various new protest-related offences, some vaguely defined allowing almost anything to be an offence and even police powers to shut down protests before they begin.

Free food at the party

The Public Order Bill re-introduces most of the amendments that were rejected by the House of Lords in January 2022 and so did not form part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

The march ended in Gillett Square, freeing the road for traffic

Many more pictures at Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party on My London Diary.


Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism – my Saturday 27th July 2013 began with a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London, continued with a vigil for Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes and ended with a march and rally against and Injustice.


Rev Billy at HSBC – Victoria

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism
Golden Toads to the rescue with ice

I met the Rev Billy and his choir on the Stop Shopping Church Tour England in a green open space on Victoria Street, opposite New Scotland Yard (which has since moved to the Embankment.) There they practised their performance as species – monkeys, jaguars and eagles – among those threatened by climate change.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Some had heads of Golden Toads, a Costa Rican species already made extinct by climate change. These were hidden away as the group walked towards the HSBC bank at Victoria, and we all walked in trying our best to look like normal customers and going up to the long line of ‘Express Banking’ cash machines.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Then the group erupted into dance action, with the Rev Billy using a megaphone to tell bank staff and customers what is happening and why we are in HSBC. Fossil Fuels are killing life on this planet and London banks and the London Stock Exchange play a key role in this – a quarter of all fossil fuel shares are traded on the LSE and in 2010-12 the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with the HSBC in the lead. He promised that they would leave the bank after the short performance.

Then the Golden Toads arrived to save the species, bringing with them some large eggs of ice to help cool the planet down, and then as promised people left the bank to continue to the end of the performance on the wide pavement outside. Police arrived and went into the bank as the players were leaving to celebrate their action in a nearby cafe and bar.

More at Rev Billy at HSBC


Free Bradley Manning Vigil – St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 27th July 2013 was an international day of action by the Bradley Manning Support Network, and in London they held a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Bradley Manning’s trial had started on 3rd June in Fort Meade, US, and protests have continued both inside and outside the court, with the ‘gay whistleblower’ being celebrated in countries across the world and awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Many see Bradley – later Chelsea Manning as a hero who should be honoured rather than imprisoned. Her trial ended on 30th July with a sentence of 35 years, but in 2017 this was commuted by President Obama to seven years, dating from her arrest in 2010.

Free Bradley Manning Vigil


Against Global Racism and Injustice – US Embassy to Whitehall

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK held a rally outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square before marching to Whitehall in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US.

The protest was supported by many anti-racist organisations including Operation Black Vote, the National Black Students Campaign, Global Afrikan Congress, PCS, RMT Black Members, Counterfire, UAF, Love Music Hate Racism, Lambeth TUC and Lambeth People’s Assembly and a number of well-known faces from the British left were among the marchers, some were scheduled to speak at the Downing Street rally.

The US Embassy was chosen as the starting point because of the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin and the global outcry against the acquittal of his murderer under the Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

But although this was a protest against global racism and injustice, and it had a particular focus on this country, and as Lee Jasper stated “We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney.” And others also made clear in speeches they were appalled by UK cases, including We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney and many, many other cases.

I followed the march as it went through Mayfair, but then had to leave rather than attend the final rally.

More at Against Global Racism and Injustice.


In Honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

2019

In Honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel The annual procession from St Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell first took place by special permission of Queen Victoria in 1883 and continues annually. On the third Sunday in July, this years was last Sunday, but in both 2019 and 2013 it was on Sunday 21st July. For this post I’ll use photographs from these two years though I’ve been on quite a few other occasions.

2013

I can’t remember when I first got to know about the procession, one of London’s oldest and most colourful religious festivals, but I think it will have been in the early 1990s when I belonged to a group called London Documentary Photographers, organised by the senior curator of photography at the Museum of London, Mike Seaborne, and became friends with another photographer, Paul Baldesare, who as his name suggests, is of Italian extraction, his father coming to the country before Paul was born.

2013

Since then its been a fairly regular entry in my diary, though I’ve been away from London some years, or had other pressing business. More recently it’s been more of a social occaision, where I’ve met Paul and other photographer friends with perhaps more interest in the Sagra in the street below the church, where Italian food and wine are sold, with wine often being brought in specially from small Italian family winemakers, mostly good and mainly cheap.

2019

I didn’t go last Sunday, mainly because of the amber heat warning. There is little shade and taking pictures means much standing in direct sunlight, something dangerous for any length of time, particularly someone of my age and infirmities. Instead I stayed inside, drinking plenty of water and keeping as cool as possible.

2013

It’s a great event, with lots of people, colourful statues being carried around the streets and a succession of floats and walking groups in costumes largely reflecting biblical scenes of the life of Jesus. There are I think two Jesus’s in the line-up, one with a communion cup leading the first communicants and another carrying a heavy wooden cross.

2019

Photographically for me the climax comes with the release of a white dove or doves, though both the number of doves and how they are set free has differed over they years. But most years recently I think there have been three who have been held in the hands of clergy and supposedly released together. Except the clergy are not always well-synchronised and the doves too have minds of their own. Its hard to get a picture capturing all of them in a single shot.

2019

Sometimes the doves shoot up almost vertically while at other times they speed past the cameras just over our heads. And although we think of white doves as being photogenic, at some points in their flight they look decidedly ugly and even maimed.

2013

Back in the times of film when the cameras I used just took a single picture when you pressed the shutter release you seldom had more than one chance to capture them. Nowadays digital cameras all have modes to take multiple frames and this cuts much of the danger of missing the birds completely. It’s probably the only time in the year I have any use for the 8 frames a second my camera has on offer, though the first time I tried this the camera went into sulk mode and refused to take even a single shot and I had to grab my second camera.

2013

But its also something I’ve now done many times and find it hard to approach in a new and fresh way. Some events evolve enough to make event fatigue not a problem but those that stay more or less the same can’t arouse the same level of interest. Perhaps I might have taken a break this year even if the weather had been less of a problem.

Dancing at the 2019 Sagra

More pictures and details on My London Diary from 2013 and 2019 with a separate group of pictures from the 2019 Sagra.


Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash: From 2004 to 2010 most years I photographed an event in central London where neo-pagans held a procession to celebrate Beltane, though for some reason they did so on the last Sunday in May rather than at the traditional time of Beltane, on or close to May Day. Perhaps the date was chosen so that those taking part in the event had the following day, the late May Bank Holiday, to recover. The event was the public part of a day-long event taking place in the Conway Hall, which backs onto Red Lion Square where the parade assembled.

Wikipedia describes Beltane as the Gaelic May Day festival, and says that historically it “was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man” but “had largely died out by the mid-20th century” before being revived by Celtic neopagans and Wiccans in the late 20th century. Here’s some of what I wrote about the 2008 event which took place fourteen years ago today on Sunday 25th March.

Pagans – or rather neo-Pagans – place great importance on nature and the cyclical nature of the seasons. Women play a very important role in most pagan beliefs and Goddesses as well as Gods, all generally linked to nature are often involved in their ceremonies and women play important roles in them.

Nature seemed not to be too kind to them as the rain bucketed down as the participants were supposed to gather, with only a few braver members (and some with umbrellas) coming out of the hall, but fortunately for them and the photographers it soon eased off, finally almost stopping as the parade got under way.

The fountain in Russell Square could have been designed with them in mind, with a strongly phallic character in the water jets, which in normal use rise and fall, but were left to flow at full strength for most of the ceremony. At first the group danced around the fountain in rings with hands joined, but then many of them started to run through the centre, many getting soaked. Even the drummers, who at first stood on the edge providing a rhythm for the dance, eventually ran though the jets, and finally so did the Green Man.

Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash

I photographed the event for the final time in 2010, though I’m not quite sure why. Possibly the organisers made changes for the following year, or perhaps I looked through my pictures and found I seemed largely to be repeating myself each year. But my work was becoming increasingly political, thanks at least in part to the changing political situation with Labour losing the 2010 general election, and I was covering fewer cultural events.

It was also becoming more difficult to cover events of all kinds, as there was a huge increase over the years in the number of spectators at events such as this, with both more photographers coming to take pictures and many others with camera phones also getting in the way. Particularly those viewing a screen at arms length seem to be much less aware of others around them and in particular generally have no idea that it might be impolite to walk in front of others who are taking pictures!

More at Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash