Posts Tagged ‘Marble Arch’

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies 2009

Saturday, February 24th, 2024

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies – Tuesday 24th February 2009 was a long and varied day for me and included some serious issues that are still at the forefront of current news as well as some lighter moments – and I ended the day enjoying a little unusual corporate hospitality with some free drinks for London bloggers.


Al-Haq Sue UK Government – Royal Courts of Justice

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

First came Palestine, with Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq filing a claim for judicial review before the High Court of England and Wales challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s illegal activities in Palestine.

They were calling on our government – then New Labour under Gordon Brown – to publicly denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing construction of the separation wall, to suspend arms related exports and all government, military, financial and ministerial assistance to Israel and to end UK companies exporting arms and military technology.

They also asked them to insist the EU suspends preferential trading with Israel until that country complies with its human rights obligations, and for the government to give the police any evidence of war crimes committed by any Israelis who intend to come to the UK.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

Of course the court refused Al-Haq’s case, declining to deal with the UK government’s compliance with its international legal obligations and stating that their claim would risk the UK’s diplomatic “engagement with peace efforts in the Middle East“, something which seemed at the time to be absolutely zero if not negative. They also refused Al-Haq any right to bring the claim because it was not a UK-based organisation and “no one in the United Kingdom has sought judicial review of United Kingdom foreign policy regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza“.

Al-Haq Sue UK Government


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race – Guildhall Yard

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

It was Shrove Tuesday and I couldn’t resist the Pancake Race organised by the Worshipful Company of Poulters, and held – with the permission of the Chief Commoner, in the Guildhall Yard.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

As I said, “It’s a shame that the Pancake Race is unlikely to feature in the London 2012 Olympics, because it’s perhaps the one sport in which Britain still leads the world, and we seem to have plenty of talent in training.

Poulters Pancake Race


Keep the Post Public – Parliament Square

Postal workers came out from a rally in Methodist Central Hall against government plans to privatise Royal Mail. The government argued they needed to do this to protect pensions and modernise the service.

Postal deliveries had been deliberately made uneconomic by earlier measures which have allowed private companies to cream off the easily delivered profitable parts of the service, while leaving the Royal Mail to continue the expensive universal delivery service – including the delivery of its competitors post at low regulated prices to more difficult destinations.

The government picked up the responsibility for the pensions when the post was privatised and the privatised post office has been allowed to fail on its delivery obligations. We now get deliveries on perhaps 3 or 4 days a week rather than 6, few first class letters arrive on time, and the collection times for most pillar boxes are now much earlier in the day – now 9am rather than 4pm at our local box. While privatisation was supposed to result in more investment it largely seems to have resulted in large dividends and higher pay to managers and the Post Office is in a worse state than ever.

Keep the Post Public


London 2012 Olympic Site – Stratford

I had time for a brief visit to the publicly accessible areas in and around the Olympic site where a great deal of work was now taking place with the main stadium beginning to emerge.

There were some reports at the time that the landmark building Warton House, once owned by the Yardley company with its lavender mosaic on Stratford High Street was to be demolished, but fortunately these turned out to be exaggerated, with only a small part at the rear of the building being lost. But all the buildings on the main part of the site had gone. Some others south of the mainline railway were also being demolished for Crossrail.

Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans


March of the Corporate Undead – Oxford St

I made my way back to Oxford Circus for the ‘March of the Corporate Undead’, a Zombie Shopping Spree complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

Police watched in a suitably deadpan manner (I did see one or two occasionally smile) as the group assembled and applied large amounts of white makeup before making its way along the pavement of Oxford Street, to the astonishment (and often delight) of late shoppers and workers rushing home.

We stopped off at Stratford Place, opposite Bond Street Station to toss some fried bankers brains in the frying pans and then there was a pancake race, holding up a Rolls Royce that was prevented by the police from driving through while we were there.

The parade continued, stopping for a minute or two under the bright lights of Selfridges before continuing to Tyburn, or at least Marble Arch, with more zombies joining all the time.

Hanging the already dead banker seemed a great idea, but getting a rope up over the arch was tricky. Eventually a severed hand gave sufficient weight to enable a rope to be thrown over the ornamental iron-work and the banker was soon hoisted up to dangle over the continuing revels below.

March of the Corporate Undead

This was an anticapitalist event and in particular aimed against bankers and the huge amounts of cash given to them to in the aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis which was seen as rewarding the very people who had caused the mess the system was in. The mass of the population was having to suffer cuts in services under a severe austerity programme while bankers were still pigs in clover. The UK has become a very unequal society over the years since 1979 when Thatcher became Prime Minister. The the top 10% got 21% of the UK income, by 2010 it was around 32%.

I left to go to a meeting of London bloggers – and enjoy a few free drinks thanks to Bacardi. The blue and green Breezers seem to me just right for zombies, though I’m afraid after tasting one I went for the beer instead. But I think the zombies on Oxford Street were more alive than those in the corporate world.


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Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More – Saturday 2nd November 2019 was a busy day for me and I made six posts from different events on My London Diary – and here is a little about each in the order of my day.


Day of the Dead – Columbia Market, Bethnal Green

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

I walked from Hoxton Overground station to Columbia Market which was holding a festival for the Mexican Day of the Dead, arriving at the time this was supposed to start. But it had been raining heavily and had only just stopped which had put off others from coming early and the streets were pretty deserted. So all I was able to photograph were the decorations on the street and on some of the shops.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Things would almost certainly have become more interesting had I stayed, but I had other things to attend and had to leave after around half an hour. I’d intended to return later but was too busy. I did take a few pictures as I walked to and from the station as well.

Day of the Dead


Against constitutional change in Guinea – Downing St

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Back in central Westminster I photographed protesters from the UK branch of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) who were demanding that President Alpha Conde abandoned the constitutional chages that would enable him to seek a third term in power.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

The London protest came after massive protests in Guinea in October during which 11 people had been killed in government violence against the opposition and peaceful protesters. They called for an end to and end to the killing and the release of all political prisoners, with posters showing the victims and calling for peace and justice in their country.

Against constitutional change in Guinea


Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity – Downing Street

Also at Downing Street, campaigners from Stand Up to Lgbtq+ Hate Crime condemned the increasing incidence of hate crime and bigotry against LGBTQ+ people and defended the teaching of lessons which feature LGBTQ+ families and relationships.

Their message was one of celebrating love, inclusion and diversity and say No to Homophobia, Islamophobia and Transphobia. I took some pictures and left as some began to speak about their own experience of discrimination at school before before the group marched to Eros in Piccadilly Circus for a further rally.

Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity


Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion – Marble Arch & Oxford St

The largest protest of the day was a a rally and march in support of Rojava in North-East Syria against Turkish invasion which gathered at Marble Arch.

Since soon after the start of the revolution in Syria a large area of the country had been under the de-facto control of a Kurdish-led democratic administration which has put ecological justice, a cooperative economy and women’s liberation at the heart of society, enshrined in a constitution which recognises the rights of the many ethnic communities in the area.

Many have seen this area, Rojava, as an important model for more democratic government, particularly in multi-ethnic areas, but Turkey sees it as a threat on its borders. For generations it has been discriminating and fighting against its own Kurdish population which makes up almost a fifth of the country’s population, and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in prison in Turkey since he was abducted from Kenya in 1999.

In prison Ocalan continued to campaign for the Kurdish people but had moved away from militancy towards political solutions. In jail he wrote about the rights of women and developed the philosophy of democratic confederalism which forms the basis of the constitution of Rojava.

Rojava has received wide support for its principles from environmental groups, green movements, feminists, human rights supports and those generally on the left, but not from western governments who see it as a threat to capitalist hegemony.

Despite this, the Kurdish people’s defence forces in Syria with the aid of US air power led the successful fight against ISIS. Turkey had backed ISIS although denying to do so, aiding them in getting the massive funds they needed by smuggling out oil from the ISIS held regions. Again they saw ISIS as an ally in their fight against the Kurds.

When Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, Turkey took advantage of this to invade areas of Syria controlled by the Kurds, and to encourage and aid Islamic groups to join them in their attacks. Turkey as a member of NATO has been encouraged and helped to develop its armed forces and is second only to the USA within Nation and is said to be the 13th largest military power in the world.

The Turkish invasion threatened the existence of Rojava, who had been forced to go to both Russia and President Asad of Syria for support. Obviously this threatens the future of the area and its constitution and its long-term hopes of autonomy in the area.

I left the protest on Oxford St on its way to the BBC who they accuse of having failed to report accurately on what is happening in the area. There had certainly been very little coverage of the recent events and a long-term failure to address issues of discrimination against the Kurds in Turkey.

Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion


March for Autonomy for Hong Kong – Marble Arch & Oxford St

Also meeting at Marble Arch were protesters, mainly Chinese from Hong Kong living in the UK, and in solidarity and supporting the five demands of those then protesting in Hong Kong. Many wore masks to protect their identity, either because they may return home or fear their families there may be persecuted.

They demanded complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill, a retraction of characterising the protests as riots, withdrawal of prosecutions against protesters, an independent investigation into police brutality and the implementation of Dual Universal Suffrage.

More pictures at March for Autonomy for Hong Kong


Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary – Soho Square

Bi Survivors Network, London Bi Pandas, Sister Not Cister UK, BwiththeT and LwiththeT held a rally in Soho Square pointing out that the newly announced LGB Alliance’, which claims to be protecting LGB people is actually a hate group promoting transphobia.

They pointed out that trans and non-binary people have always been a part of the gay community and played an important part in the fight for gay rights and in particular Stonewall, and there is no place for such bi-phobic and gay-separatist views in the gay community.

More pictures: Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary



October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali – 2005

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali: In 2005 much of my photography was of cultural and religious events as well as political protests on the streets of London. And on Sunday 23rd October I photographed a harvest festival event on the South Bank before going to Marble Arch to photograph a Muslim procession. The text here is revised from my 2005 accounts on the October 2005 page of My London Diary and some picture captions.


October Plenty: The Lions Part – Globe Theatre & Bankside

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The Lions Part Is a group of actors who came together in the Original Shakespeare Company But now pursue independent professional careers in theatre and TV etc. They now work together on various projects including three regular celebrations on Bankside in co-operation with the Globe Theatre.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

One of these is October Plenty, loosely based on traditional english harvest festivities and particularly celebrating the apple and grain harvest.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

Characters in the procession include the Green Man (or Berry Man), the Hobby Horse and a large Corn Queen stuffed with fruit and veg, not to mention a violin-playing Dancing Bear with other musicians and more characters who take part in several plays and performances in various locations.

October Plenty & The Martydom of Ali

The day started in front of the Globe Theatre with the bear, then the procession came and led us into the Globe Theatre, where they gave a short performance before we left to go through the streets to Borough Market where further plays and games were scheduled. I decided it was time for lunch and to go to another event and left at this point.

more pictures


The Martydom Of Ali, Hub-E-Ali – Marble Arch

Hub-E-Ali organise an annual mourning program in London to mark the Martydom Of Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and the first person to embrace Islam, who was martyred in 660CE in Kufa, Iraq.

Ali was struck by a poisoned sword while leading dawn prayers in the mosque, and died two days later. The event and its consequences continue to divide Muslims down to the present day.

Many (and not only Muslims) have regarded Ali as the model of a just Islamic ruler, working to establish peace, justice and morality. The procession both marks the killing of Ali and also looks forward to the day when a descendant of the prophet Muhammad will return to be the saviour of the world.

It also celebrates the duty of the followers of Islam to speak out against oppression and immorality, and to live pious lives in solidarity with the oppressed.

To show their sorrow, those taking part in the mourning parade (Jaloos) recite eulogies about Ali and beat their breasts (Seena Zani.) A ceremonial coffin (Taboot) is carried as a part of the procession, along with symbolic flags. There was also a long session of recitations before the procession.

more pictures

More from October 2005


Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon: Two unconnected events in London on Sunday 30th September 2007. I photographed a Muslim festival in Park Lane before making my way to Battersea where a long march organised by Christian Aid around Britain was resting before its final push to the City of London calling for urgent action to cut our carbon emissions. Sixteen years ago it was already clear we needed to do this to avoid climate catastrophe – but our government has clearly not yet got the message with its recent decisions, including giving the go ahead to exploit the Rosebank field.


Mourning the Martrydom of Ali – Marble Arch

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Ali Ibn Abi Talib grew up in the household of the prophet Muhammad and was the first male to profess his belief in his guardian’s divine revelation.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Later he married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and became a great warrior and leader and also one of the foremost Islamic scholars. He was made Caliph after the previous Calip was assassinated, and was then himself assassinated while praying in the mosque at Kufa, Iraq dying a few days later on the 21st of Ramadan in 661CE.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

Revered by all Muslims, he is particularly celebrated by Shia, who regard him as second only in importance to Muhammad, and celebrate his martydom annually, including in a colourful march on the streets of London.

Martydom of Ali & Cut the Carbon

They gathered in front of Marble Arch for a lengthy period of mourning before a ceremonial coffin was carried out and men and women rushed to touch it. People began to beat their breasts, the men with extreme force and the women very much more decorously.

Eventually they formed into a procession and moved off down Park Lane, with much continued mourning and beating of breasts, led by a tall banner about Ali, then the men, followed by the ceremonial bier and finally the by the women with more banners.

Although the men were happy to be photographed, some were concerned that I also photographed the women taking part in this and other similar events. But after putting the photographs from events like this on-line I received e-mails from some of the women in them thanking me for having recorded their participation.

I left the marchers as they moved down Park Lane. The procession continues for some hours, moving slowly and then returning to Marble Arch but I had to go to Battersea.

Many more pictures beginning at on My London Diary.


Cut The Carbon March: Christian Aid – St Mary’s Battersea

The ‘Cut The Carbon March’ organised by Christian Aid called for the UK and the world to take urgent action to reduce the carbon emissions which are leading to a catastrophic global warming which was already threatening the lives and livelihoods of many around the world, particularly in the Global South.

Clearly all countries needed to take urgent action to avoid the growing catastrophe, and countries such as the UK with higher per capita carbon footprints need to take a lead in this as well as helping other less industrialised countries to do so. We have benefited from a couple of hundred years of carbon-dirty industrial growth which has brought to world to the brink.

The marchers, including a number of international participants, had begun in Northern Ireland in July, moving on to Scotland, England and Wales on a thousand mile route through major cities which were listed on the back of the t-shirts worn by the marchers. The march was intended to convince people of the necessity to cut carbon emissions from the UK and globally. As well as marching there were events at their stops on the route, including a visit to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth where they had met with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Many others had joined the core marchers, walking with them for short sections of the route and providing hospitality at churches along the way. They were stopping in Battersea and taking part in an evening service in St Mary’s there before the final day of the march which was to end at St Paul’s Cathedral on October 1st.

I was late and the marchers had arrived at St Mary’s just I few minutes before me and were enjoying a rest in its riverside churchyard. Later some talked about the march and why they had given up their summer to take part in it as it was so vital that the UK and the world take serious action.

We were reminded that some of the world’s lower-lying countries were being threatened by the sea level rise from global warming, with ice-caps melting as a high Spring tide began to flood parts of the churchyard, but fortunately stopped with only a few large puddles at one side. But the sea-level will continue to rise and make some whole island countries uninhabitable as well as large areas of others already subject to flooding.

More recently we are also now seeing the effects of global heating and climate instability clearly in the UK, Europe and North America with record high temperatures, huge forest wild fires and odd weather patterns affecting crop yields. But the fossil fuel companies are still huge lobbyists and contributors to party funds and still our UK government, while paying lip-service to zero carbon in the rather distant future of 2050, continues to pump up the carbon with new coal, gas and oil exploitation. Total madness.

But this was a fine September evening and St Mary’s is a fine listed building and I was pleased yet again to take a tour inside and admire its architecture, fine monuments and modern stained glass windows for both William Blake and Joseph Mallord Turner who knew it well, as well as the riverside views.

More pictures on My London Diary


As well as the pictures you can see what I wrote about these events at the time near the bottom of the September 2007 page of My London Diary.


Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

Five years ago today on Saturday 3rd June 2018 I photographed two events in London, beginning with a protest opposite Downing Street by campaigners against gun and knife crime and moving on to an annual march remembering the 1984 Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar where thousands of Sikhs were massacred, and the Indian government encouraged mob killings of Sikhs across the country following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards later in the year.


Anti-Knife UK protest – Downing St

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

The event was organised by Anti-Knife UK, founded by Danny O’Brien in 2008 which monitors knife crime incidents from across the UK on a daily basis. 2008 had been a particularly bad year for the murder of teenagers on London’s streets, with 29 deaths, and thought the numbers had gone down until 2012 when there were 9 such deaths by 2017 they back up to 27.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

All of these deaths are tragedies for the teenagers and their families, and the numbers of crimes involving knives across England and Wales is huge – now over 45,000, though many of those are for possession of knives – and the total number of deaths is the year ending march 2022 was 261.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Many of those at the protest were bereaved family members and their supporters and were wearing t-shirts or holding placards with photographs of the knife victims and pairs of empty shoes as well as banners.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Speakers called for measures to tackle the problem including tougher sentences, tagging of all knives, knife arches in night clubs, equal rights for victims and families, a review of the laws governing self-defence and reasonable force and work in schools and communities.

More pictures at Anti-Knife UK protest.


Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide

I went to meet a large crowd of Sikhs at a rally in Hyde Park before the march, sitting on the grass. It was 24 degrees in London, and without any shade I was far too hot. Few of the speeches were in English, but many of the placards were and others graphically made their message clear.

Sikhs were badly treated by the British at the time of partition which divided the country up between the Hindus and Muslims, with millions of people having to flee across the borders of the new states and millions were terribly killed in doing so. Sikhs had called for an independent Sikh state in the Punjab, but most were simply lumped in, along with Buddhists and Jains with Hindu dominated India, although large numbers also remained in the part of the Punjab which had been designated as Muslum Pakistan.

Although there were large numbers of Sikhs across the Punjab before partition were still a minority population and they were not united in their demands for an independent state of Khalistan. Althugh they would probably have been better joining Pakistan, their cultural ties to Hinduism as well as a history of persecution by Muslims led them to instead unite with India. Many Sikh leaders had been involved with the Indian Congress Party which had made them promises about their position in India where the are less than 1% of the population but these were never kept.

The idea of a separate Khalistan became talked about more widely particularly in the diaspora in the 1970s, with the movement in Punjab led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale advocating an autonomous state within India. The movement had become increasingly militant with a number of armed supporters, setting up in 1982 what Wikipedia describes as ‘what amounted to a “parallel government” in Punjab‘.

In June 1984, the Indian Army launched Operation Blue Star to remove Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, killing Bhindranwale and large number of his supporters as well as many civilians as the temple was packed with pilgrims. The figures for deaths are disputed but probably between 5-7,000, with around 700 of the Indian army also dying.

In 2018 I commented “Since this 1984 Sikh genocide there has been a continuing program of police arrests, torture and killing of Sikh males in the Punjab and crippling economic and social policies. Sikhs demand independence from India and a Sikh state, Khalistan.”

After the rally the march set off, led by Sikh standard bearers and five Khalsa representing the Five Blessed Ones or Panj Pyare holding swords and walking barefoot in their orange robes and followed by several thousand Sikhs with flags, placards and banners. I talked with them past Marble Arch and down to Hyde Park Corner where I left them going down Piccadilly towards another rally at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square.

You can see many more pictures and captions describing the event on My London Diary at Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide.

Crusaders’ Temple and Ashura Procession – 2008

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Temple Festival: 400 Years of Middle & Inner Temple – Saturday 19th January, 2008

Crusaders' Temple and Ashura Procession
Temple Church, 2008

A few weeks ago I spent an interesting afternoon with several friends. We met at Temple underground station then walked up Milford Lane and into the Middle Temple, turning right at Fountain Court, passing Middle Temple Hall, turning north into Middle Temple Lane and then right into Pump Court and then paying our entry fee to visit Temple Church, one of London’s more remarkable ancient churches. After a long time there we walked out and up Fetter Lane to Holborn Circus and on to Ely Place and spending some time in St Etheldreda’s RC Church, also worth a visit, before turning back and down Ely Place to the Old Mitre pub.

Crusaders' Temple and Ashura Procession
Middle Temple Hall, 2008

This is only one of many in London worth a visit, and we soon left for another and finally for a meal in one of those Wetherspoons is currently trying to sell. Sitting there I reviewed the numerous pictures I had taken on the walk, and thought a few were not bad. When I got home I took the SD card out of the camera and left it on my desk. The following morning I put it into my USB card reader but the reader didn’t respond and nothing came up on my computer. I put it back into the camera and got an error message and the camera was now also unable to read the card. I tried another camera with the same result.

Crusaders' Temple and Ashura Procession

I carefully cleaned the contacts on the card, but that didn’t help. I googled a bit, but all of the articles I found assumed you could access the card, which I couldn’t. I gave up and binned the card. I’ve never had this problem before using CF and SD cards for 20 years, taking pictures most days. On one or two occasions I’ve had to use rescue software to read files from cards, and back in the early days I did manage to overwrite some files after I had put them on my computer with smaller versions of the same images, but I can’t recall ever having been unable to access the files at all. And I did on one occasion lose one or two full cards after the pocket they were in was ripped when things got rather physical in a protest I was covering.

Middle Temple Lane

Fortunately it didn’t really matter. I’d had an enjoyable afternoon, and the pictures, though interesting weren’t important. I could in theory go back and repeat them, possibly better, though it’s very unlikely I will. And although there were some places on our route I’d not photographed before, others I had, for example on the visit the pictures here come from, when on Saturday 19th January 2008 the Middle & Inner Temple were celebrating 400 years since James I granted the site in perpetuity to the Honourable Societies of the Middle and Inner Temple for training and accommodating barristers, on condition that they also looked after the Temple Church.

Of course the Temple Church was by then almost 450 years old – here’s the first couple of paras of what I wrote back in 2008:

The Knights Templar moved down from the north end of Chancery Lane to Temple around 1160, and of course built a church. Soon after they were suppressed in 1308, the site went to the Order of St John, and not long after they leased the site to some law students.

Henry VIII didn’t just become head of the church in England to make it easier to change wives, but also used it to grab for himself the huge riches of the monasteries – including the Temple site with its two templar halls full of lawyers. (When there was a pilgrimage of several thousand in protest, led by lawyer Robert Aske, Henry promised to look into their complaints and most went home happy. Then he had Aske hung in chains from a church tower until he starved to death and forgot his promises. But Aske came from Grey’s Inn, not the Temple.)

Fountain Court, 2008

You can read the rest of my post and see more pictures at Middle & Inner Temple – 400 Years.


Ashura Day Procession – Marble Arch, Saturday 19 Jan, 2008

The Knights Templar were of course fighting in the crusades against Islam in Palestine and elsewhere, and their church has memorials to many of the nobler knights, including some who bear my family name, though almost certainly I’m not in any way descended from them. Marshalls were stable boys as well as knights. But it did seem appropriate in some way that my day took me from the Temple (though I didn’t on that occasion go in the Temple Church) to one of the major Islamic religious commemorations of Shia Islam.

Ashura Day remembers the martyrdom of Husain and his small group of followers at Kerbala, Iraq in 61AH (680 AD.) Processions in London have taken place for many years now, and I first photographed one of them in 2000, returning in several years including 2008. It takes place annually on the 10th of Muharram, which I think in 2023 will be July 29th.

Crusaders' Temple and Ashura Procession

The event began at Marble Arch and then several thousand people walked along Hyde Park Place and the Bayswater Road, some banging drums and blowing trumpets, while others chant through loudspeakers to lead the mainly black-clad walkers in their mourning, remembering the martyrdom of Husain and his small group of followers.

I left the procession, which was on its way to the Islamic Centre in Penzance Place in Notting Hill, at Lancaster Gate. It was getting rather dark and taking pictures by available light was becoming tricky – and I was getting tired and glad to get on the tube.

Many more pictures at Ashura Day Procession.


For Refugee Rights and Against Trident

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident. I covered two marches in London on 27th February 2016, the first calling for safe passage for refugees seeking protection in Europe and following this a much larger march against government plans to waste £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons.

European March for Refugee Rights

The European March for Refugee Rights was part of a day of protests in cities across Europe demanding action by governments to provide secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They want an end to deaths at borders and drownings and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Among those taking part were people who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and others who had volunteered with Medicins Sans Frontiers in Syria. The protest was supported by many groups including the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

This was a short march taking place unusually inside Hyde Park, gathering at Hyde Park Corner and walking up to Speakers Corner where there was a rally. This made it possible for those taking part to join the Stop Trident Rally which was starting from Marble Arch, and going down Park Lane on its way to Trafalgar Square. Some of the marchers decided to form a block to march in front of the main Stop Trident banner and march on to Trafalgar Square.

Stop Trident march stewards tried briefly to stop them but then gave up and halted their march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

European March for Refugee Rights


Stop Trident March

According to CND there were 60,000 people marching from Marble Arch to a mass rally in Trafalgar Square, and although their estimate may have been a little on the high side, this was definitely a very large protest, starting with a densely packed crowd on Park Lane. When the rally began in Trafalgar Square the tail of the march was still around half a mile away, and I think many gave up before reaching the rally as the streets leading to it became blocked.

Few people outside the military and arms manufacturers – probably the most powerful of all lobbies in the country can really believe the expenditure of £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons is either necessary or cost-effective. The huge majority of nations in the world have no nuclear capability, and by December 2021, 59 states had ratified or acceded to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on 22 January 2021.

Lindsey German, Stop the War, Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP First Minister, Scotland and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas hold the Stop Trident banner

A national survey by Survation at the start of 2021 for CND showed 59% of the public supported the UK government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters. An even higher 77% supported a ‘total ban on all nuclear weapons globally’ with majority support from young and old, in all regions of the country, from Conservative as well as Labour voters, leavers and remainers. The government remains resolutely opposed to the treaty.

This widespread opposition to nuclear weapons isn’t largely a matter of their cost but on both moral and pragmatic grounds. As CND say, using nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic global damage; these weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing and “it is clearer than ever that real security for Britain requires addressing the risks posed by the climate emergency and pandemics on a global scale.

Stop Trident March


Stop Trident Rally

Trafalgar square was unusually packed for the long rally that followed the march, with people listening and applauding a long list of speakers, including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka and Tariq Ali, as well as many less well-known names. There were many marchers who found it impossible to get into the square.

Nicola Sturgeon First Minister Scotland

All the speakers opposed the spending of an estimated £180 billion or more on renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

It was a long wait, around two hours standing in the cold for the final speech by Jeremy Corbyn who had earlier in the day been speaking in Sheffield and whose train had been a little delayed. He was greeted by a tremendous response from the crowd, and gave a rousing speech to end the protest on a high note. Despite the dismissive remarks from many political commentators on the media, Corbyn is one of the most powerful political speakers of current years.

Stop Trident Rally


1984 Remembered

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Every year around the 8th June, Sikhs march in London to remember the 1984 destruction at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Soviet government forged documents in 1982 to show that Sikh militants were getting CIA support for their plans to establish an independent Sikh state of Khalistan in the Punjab and these were taken seriously by Indian intelligence services and prime minister Indira Gandhi, who on June 1st 1984 sent in the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star, attacking scores of Sikh temples across the Punjab.

On 3rd June Indian forces surrounded the Golden Temple in Amritsar where many of the militants who were well armed had taken refuge, along with thousands of pilgrims who were there for the anniversary of the death of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev Ji. The siege lasted several days and many were killed, mostly pilgrims who had been allowed by the army to enter on the 3rd June but not allowed to leave later that day. As they secured the Temple, the army carried out many executions of those they detained and fired on men and women as they were trying to follow army orders to leave.

Acoording to Rajiv Gandhi, around 700 Indian Army soldiers were killed in the attack, although the official figure was 83. There are also huge discrepancies between the official figures of those who died inside the Temple, with an official figure of 554 casualties and independent estimates of 18-20,000.

Many Sikhs resigned from official positions and soldiers left the Indian Army after this assault on their religion, and five months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in an act of revenge. This in turn led to anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed.

Many Sikhs still continue to call for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan, combining parts of the Punjab in both India and Pakistan that were severed at partition in 1947 when the whole area was divided between the two and Sikhs, along with other minorities were sidelined. Both political and military activities continue as does their repression by the Indian government, with many Sikhs held in Indian prisons, some under threat of hanging.

Feelings still run very high, and in 2013 four Sikhs were found guilty of attacking one of the generals who led the attack on the Temple, long retired and on holiday in London with his wife. Police have often taken a very keen interest in the annual march and prevented people from carrying some placards and posters which support the proscribed organisation Babbar Khalsa. The pictures here are from the march on Sunday 8th June 2014, which I left as the last of the protesters went down Park Lane on their way to a rally in Trafalgar Square

Sikhs march for Truth, Justice & Freedom


Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences

Also taking place on Sunday 8th June 2014 was a protest against the the 1,212 death sentences imposed on Islamists in Egypt, which was taking place as the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was sworn in. These included 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced in 2014 following an attack on a police station in 2013.

There was a mock trial. People wearing numbers to represent the prisoners made the Islamist R4BIA (Rabia) sign and the event ended with a die-in in front of Marble Arch.

Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences


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.


Extinction Rebellion and more

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion (XR) began 11 days of protest which initially brought most of central London traffic to a halt on Monday 15th April 2019. They didn’t manage to keep up the protest until “the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency” as we have yet to see that two years later, but they did considerably raise public and media awareness about the severity of the problem the world faces.

Unfortunately there seems to be little chance that effective action will be taken in time to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2015 as they demanded, though perhaps the half-hearted measures that will come out of the delayed climate summit later this year will do just a little to slow the rate our our planet’s decline, possibly enough to see my life out, though I worry about the future of my children and despair for that of my grandsons and daughters.

XR have now very much lost the initiative, mainly I think because of internal dissensions, perhaps inevitable because of some of the rather odd characters that they attracted. But some of their ideas, particularly over the police and arrests cut them off from many on the left who attacked them as a movement funded by shady capitalists and led by wacky idealists, more a Glastonbury festival than a political movement. Much of the criticism was ill-founded but not all.

The major effect they had on our government was for them to put pressure on the police to get rid of these pesky protesters – first by more arrests and prosecutions and now by the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill to give the police greater powers to control all protests.

Early on the Monday morning, XR protesters set up camp at a number of key locations in London in a well-planned exercise. I turned up rather later to take photographs, first at Waterloo Bridge, which XR had turned into a ‘garden bridge’, blocking all traffic and bringing flowers and trees. There had been arrests earlier, but police had been unable to stop the protesters and the bridge – despite many further arrests – remained closed for over a week.

Because of the XR actions traffic all around the centre of London was at a halt, with buses not moving. Fortunately the tube was unaffected and took me to Oxford Circus, which now had a large pink yacht at its centre, named after the Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated for her activism in 2016. It was here that I met the dance troupe dressed in red that were such a visible presence in XR protests.

XR were not the only environmental game in town, and I took the Underground to St Paul’s Cathedral for a protest organised by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Earth Strike and London Students for Climate Justice. I arrived when there protest was due to start, but there were only a few of them present. I hung around for half an hour or so, and then gave up and left. Later I saw the accounts of their protest which did eventually attract a small crowd and was sorry I’d missed the action.

But there was rather more happening at Marble Arch, one of London’s main gyratory systems, where XR had blocked Oxford St, Park Lane, Edgware Road and a couple of other routes and had set up a stage, workshops and a tent village as well as the road blocks.

But XR had also planned an event for Parliament Square, where the roads around were blocked for a New Orleans funeral procession with jazz band to make its way around the square.

The funeral was perhaps also designed as a diversion for some more direct action, which I again missed at the Shell Centre on the South Bank. A small group of activists daubed slogans across the front of the building and two occupied the glass porch over the door. The activists had deliberately broken the glass in one of the doors, with the intention that this would result in a trial before a jury rather than by magistrates, enabling them to present the reasons for their action, and three had been arrested and taken away by the time I arrived, but the two were still up on the porch and others holding banners on the street in front.

My day had not quite finished as I made a small diversion on my way home to visit Brixton, where staff, families and children from children’s centres were protesting against plans by Lambeth Council to close five centres and make drastic cuts at seven others. The council had recently spent £68 million on refurbishing the Town Hall and building a new Civic Centre.

Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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.


The Spice of Life

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found about the last eleven months has been the lack of variety. I’ve been fortunate to probably avoid the virus – I was quite ill early in March 2020 but my symptoms didn’t match those then thought to typify Covid-19, though they did match some of those being reported by Covid sufferers – and none of my family or close friends have died from it.

But days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen have followed days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen relentlessly, though I have tried to get out for walks or bike rides most days. As someone of an age and medical condition that makes me vulnerable I decided not to travel up to London on public transport, although as a journalist I count as a key worker and could have done so. Apart from usually solitary exercise (occasionally a walk with my wife on Sundays) I’ve made a couple of trips out for pub meals with family or friends when these were allowed, and a few short journeys for medical and dental appointments – including most recently my first Covid vaccination.

There’s Zoom of course, and I hate it, though taking part in a few regular events. It’s a little better on my desktop computer which hasn’t got a camera, but on the notebook or tablet I find it disconcerting to see myself in close-up (and sometimes move out of frame and sit in a more comfortable chair watching the screen from a distance.) It’s perhaps more seeing the others, mainly in head and shoulders close-up that makes me uncomfortable with Zoom; in real life we would be sitting around at a sensible distance, seeing each other at full length and as a part of the overall scene, looking away when we want to at other things. Not those relentless talking or muted full-face heads.

Tuesday 24th February 2009 wasn’t a typical day, and that’s really the point. Few days then were typical. I caught the train to Waterloo and took a bus across to Aldwych, a short journey but faster than walking. A short walk then took me to the Royal Courts of Justice where protesters were supporting the application for judicial review by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s activities in Palestine.

It was Shrove Tuesday, and from the Royal Courts another bus took me on one of my favourite central London bus journey, up Fleet St and Ludgate Hill to Bank, from where I hurried to Guildhall Yard to the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Races. It perhaps wasn’t one of my better attempts to photograph the event, perhaps because I tried too hard to show the actual running and tossing of pancakes.

I couldn’t stay for the finals of the pancake race but hurried down to Mansion House for the District and Circle Line to Westminster to meet postal workers as they came out of a rally at Methodist Central Hall to protest at government plans to part-privatise the postal service and then proceeded to a short protest in front of Parliament.

There was nothing in my diary for the next few hours, so I took the opportunity to jump onto the Jubilee Line to Stratford and then walk towards the Olympic site for one of my occasional reports on what was happening in the area – which I had been photographing since the 1980s.

I made my way through the Bow Back Rivers, photographing the new lock gates at City Mill Lock. The Olympic site was sealed off to the public by the ‘blue fence’ but I was able to walk along the elevated path on the Northern Outfall Sewer to take a panoramic view of the stadium under construction. It was rather a dull day and not ideal for such wide views with such a large expanse of grey sky.

I took the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for the March of the Corporate Undead, advertised as a “Zombie Shopping Spree” along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

I left the zombies at Marble Arch where they were hanging an effigy of a banker and hurried to my final appointment, a London Bloggers Meetup. The evening’s meeting was being sponsored by Bacardi who were supplying free drinks, including blue and green Breezers which I thought would have been rather suitable for the zombies, but fortunately there was also free beer. I probably took a few pictures, but haven’t published them.

All just a little more interesting than staring at a screen, though there was rather a lot of that to do when I finally got home.

March of the Corporate Undead
Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans
Keep the Post Public
Poulters Pancake Race
Al-Haq Sue UK Government


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.