Posts Tagged ‘My London Diary’

Circling The City Quiz 2019

Sunday, May 19th, 2024

Circling The City Quiz: I don’t often now go out camera in hand with no specific aim in mind but Sunday 19th May 2019 was a day without any photographic plan. I was keeping my wife company on a sponsored walk and making sure she didn’t use her powerfully inverse sense of direction to get lost.

Circling The City Quiz

Circling The City Quiz

The walk was organised by Christian Aid and came at the end of the annual Christian Aid week which always takes place in the second week of May (this years it was 12-18 May.) There are events organised by churches across the country as well as some door-to-door collections (the largest in the UK, though these are becoming increasingly difficult), as well as regional events like this walk. You can add your donation at this link.

Circling The City Quiz

Circling The City Quiz

Christian Aid was founded at the end of the war in 1945 to give aid to the millions of refugees and displaced people in Europe, but now works with grass roots groups of all faiths (and none) in 24 countries across the world. This year its appeal was focused on Burundi where over 70% of the people face hunger and poverty every single day.

Whatever one feels about the faith that motivates its work, I think it is one of the better large NGOs in various ways. As well as working with local grass roots partners in the countries where it gives support, its activities in fund-raising in the UK are also very important in educating many across the country in development issues and the problems faced by ordinary people across the world.

We were given a very clear map and guide to take us around a series of churches in the city – mainly of course rebuilt by Christopher Wren and his co-workers after the 1666 fire, most of which were open for the event and some were offering refreshments. So our progress was slow and a few were closed by the time we arrived, but I was able to take some photographs inside 8 or 9 of the the dozen on the route we followed, including a couple I don’t recall having been inside before.

Here I’ll mainly post some of the pictures I took on the streets as we made our way around the city, along with a few from the churches.

I’ve deliberately not captioned them so those who know London can have a little fun in trying to work out where they were made. If you can get more than ten out of the fourteen you know London pretty well, and anyone who gets all 14 deserves (and probably already has) a London Green Guide badge. Unfortunately I can’t award these and you will need to take a course to get one.

You can check most of your answers in the post on My London Diary at City Churches Christian Aid Walk.

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25 Years Ago – April 1999

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

25 Years Ago – April 1999. When I began posting on my web site My London Diary I decided that the posts would begin from the start of 1999, and there are still image files I created in January of that year on line, though I think they probably only went live on the web a few months later.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
The Millennium Dome seen across the River Thames from Blackwall DLR station, one of a series of medium format urban landscape images.

In those early days of the site there was very little writing on it (and relatively few pictures) with most pictures just posted with minimal captions if any.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Burnt out cars at Feltham on the edge of London, stolen and wrecked on waste land by youths.

A single text on the introductory page for the year 1999 explained my rather diffuse intentions for the site as follows (I’ve updated the layout and capitalisation.)

What is My London Diary? A record of my day to day wanderings in and around London, camera in hand and some of my comments which may be related to these – or not

Things I’ve found and perhaps things people tell me. If I really knew what this site was I wouldn’t bother to write it. It’s London, it’s part of my life, but mainly pictures, arranged day by day, ordered by month and year.

My London Diary 1999

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (left) takes part with Anglican and Methodist clergy in the annual Good Friday Procession of Witness on Victoria St, Westminster.
25 Years Ago - April 1999

In the years following My London Diary expanded considerably, gradually adding more text about the events I was covering but retaining the same basic structure. Had I begun it a few years later it would have used a blogging platform – such as WordPress on which this blog runs, but in 1999 blogging was still in its infancy and My London Diary was handcoded html – with help from Dreamweaver and more recently BlueGriffon, now sadly no longer.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Man holding a placard at a protest against Monsanto’s genetically modified crops.

My London Diary continued until Covid brought much of my new photography to a standstill and stuttered briefly back to life after we came out of purdah. But by then my priorities had changed, and although I am still taking some new photographs and covering rather more carefully selected events my emphasis has switched to bringing to light the many thousands of largely unseen pictures taken on film in my archives, particularly through posting on Flickr. Since March 2020 I’ve uploaded around 32,000 pictures and have had over 12 million views there, mainly of pictures I made between 1975 and 1994. The images are at higher resolution than those on my various web sites.

121 Street Party, Railton Rd, Brixton. 10th April 1999 121 was a squatted self-managed anarchist social centre on Railton Road in Brixton from 1981 until 1999.

Since I moved to digital photography My London Diary has put much of my work online, though more recent work goes into Facebook albums (and much onto Alamy.) My London Diary remains online as a low resolution archive of my work.

Sikhs celebrate 300 Years of Khalsa – Southall. 11th April 1999

April 1999 was an interesting month and all the pictures in this post come from it. I’ve added some brief captions to the pictures.

No War on Iraq protest – Hyde Park, 17 April 1999 President Bill Clinton was threatening to attack Iraq to destroy its capability to produce nuclear weapons. Operation Desert Fox, a four day air attack, came in December 1999
Southall Remembers Blair Peach – Southall. 24th April 1999. Blair Peach, a teacher in East London was murdered by police while protesting a National Front meeting in Southall in 1979.

Stockley Park – one of a series of panoramic landscapes of developments in London – this is a major office park with some outstanding architecture

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Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade – 2013

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade: Together with my wife and elder son I had on Saturdays spread over several years walked much of the Thames path. We’d walked it chunks of around 8-12 miles a day between places which could be reached by public transport but had come to a halt at Shifford, near Hinton Waldrist, 9 miles to the southwest of Oxford from which, at least back around 2012 it was still possible to take a bus. Thanks to cuts I think the bus service is now too infrequent to be of use.

Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade - 2013
The room next to ours at Buscot had a four poster bed

But further upstream there was little or no public transport – and what little there was didn’t go in useful directions for us. So my son had booked us into a couple of hotels to bridge the gap, giving three longish days of walking. We travelled fairly light with just essentials in rucksacks – and of course for me a small camera bag, but it was still fairly taxing – and something I couldn’t repeat now, 11 years later.

Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade - 2013

You can read my account of the three days, complete with rather a lot of pictures on My London Dairy at Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot, Buscot to Cricklade and Cricklade to the Source.

Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade - 2013
Old Father Thames

I’d kept my photography equipment minimal too, taking just one camera, a Fuji X-Pro1 and I think two lenses. One was the Fujifilm XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, a mouthful almost larger than the lens itself, Fuji’s 18-55mm kit lens. It’s a fairly small and light lens but a remarkably good one. Fuji has since brought out zooms with wider focal length ranges, wider apertures (and higher prices) and I have some, but within its limitations I think this remains my favourite.

Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade - 2013
Halfpenny Bridge – the toll house at right – Lechlade

I don’t think I then owned a wider Fuji lens than the zoom with the 18mm being equivalent to 27mm on a full-frame camera, rather a moderated wide-angle for me, but for those scenes where I felt a need for a wider view I also took my Nikon DX 10.5mm fisheye with a Fuji adaptor. Compact and lightweight, this worked well but was a little fiddly to use. I’ve never found using lenses with adaptors quite as satisfactory as those in the actually camera fitting. I don’t think any of the pictures I put online for this section of the walk were made with this, though some for both other days are.

The entrance to the Thames and Severn Canal across the Thames

The Buscot to Cricklade section of the walk was a little shorter than the first day when we probably walked a total of sixteen or seventeen miles, but includes some of the best and some of the worst parts of the route. There are some delightful sections of riverside walking and Lechlade is certainly a town worth visiting, as we did, although a diversion from the Thames Path itself.

The next mile or so is arguably the most interesting section of the Thames Path, at least in its upper reaches, with the start of the Thames and Severn Canal. It’s also here that the Thames towpath begins – or for us ends.

And a short distance further on is the remarkable St John the Baptist Church at Inglesham, saved and restored by William Morris and his his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these.

But then comes a long trek over a mile beside a busy A361 followed by a longer one along along paths and lanes with hardly a sniff of a the river until you reach Castle Eaton, a village which seemed closed (and its pub certainly was.)

From there the path does follow the river all the way into Cricklade, though as I noted “going every direction except a straight line to there“. Finally we arrived at the White Hart, supposedly the poshest and oldest principal coaching inn at Cricklade since the time of Elizabeth 1 but bought by Arkells Brewery in 1973. Our rooms in a more modern part of the building were comfortable enough but rather less impressive than those on the previous night at Buscot.

Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot

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Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003

Friday, March 22nd, 2024

Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003 – On 22nd March 2003 several hundred thousand people marched through London against the invasion of Iraq which had begun four days earlier on on 19th March 2003.

Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003

I’d missed the huge worldwide protests the previous month, when on the weekend of 15-16th February according to the BBC, always conservative (I think a euphemism for deliberately lying) on protest numbers reported that a million people had marched in London on the Saturday among between six and ten million in 60 countries around the world.

Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003
George Galloway

I’d come out of hospital the previous day, February 14th, and was still very weak following a minor heart operation that had gone slightly wrong. So I could only wave to my wife and elder son as they set off to the station to join the other 1.5 or 2 million marchers.

Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003

I think it was March 6th that my doctor signed me off as fit to work, though I was still not back to normal, but I covered my first protest after the op two days later, cutting down the weight of my camera bag as much as I could to two cameras and five lenses – all primes.

Invasion of Iraq Protest 2003
Peter Tatchell

I’d spent some of my time recovering getting used to the Nikon D100 I had bought just a few weeks before going into hospital. It was the first digital camera I’d owned capable of professional results, and the first with interchangeable lenses, though I only then owned one in a Nikon fitting I’d bought with the camera, a 24-85mm.

As well as taking colour pictures on the D100, I was also taking black and white film using a rangefinder camera, probably a Konica Hexar RF, the kind of camera Leica should have produced but never did. It featured automatic film advance and rewind and had accurate auto-exposure and has been described as “the most powerful M mount camera there is.” And very much cheaper than a Leica. The nine pictures from the day I sent to the library I was then using were all black and white 8×10″ prints from the pictures made with the Hexar RF, as in 2003 they were still not taking digital files.

Here you can see some of the digital images I took on 22nd March 2003 with that single zoom lens. It was the first zoom lens I had used for over 25 years, having been rather disappointed with a telephoto zoom I bought soon after I got my Olympus OM1. The image quality on the Nikon zoom – about the cheapest lens in their range and light and relatively small – was fine if not quite up to the Leica lenses on the Hexar, but it gave some distortion – barrel at 24mm and pincushion at 85mm.

But the Nikon D100 was a DX format camera, and on this the widest angle of view marked as 24mm actually was equivalent to 35mm on my film camera. Hardly wide-angle at all, and on film I was often working with 15mm or 21mm lenses.

The digital images are shown here as I put them on-line in 2003, and I think I would get the colour rather better now. And of course digital cameras have improved tremendously since then, with much better dynamic range, and the software for processing digital images is also far better. Also with download speeds generally much lower in 2003 they were put on line at a much poorer jpeg quality so they would download faster – and also spread over a number of pages with perhaps just half a dozen images on each page.

The marchers met on the Embankment and marched to a rally in Hyde Park. I think I only used the D100 before and on the march and photographed the rally entirely in black and white. Probably this was a decision I made, but it could have been because the battery ran out. But I think I had decided just to use it to photograph people on the march.

We now know that Blair lied to take us to war and made use of the fake “dodgy dossier” to swing the vote in Parliament. There were no “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq – and the UN had found none because there was nothing to find. But the US had been gearing up to attack over the past year and were not going to let the facts put them off, and Blair was their lap dog.

You can read more about the Invasion of Iraq on Wikipedia. While the US had prepared for war, they had made little or no preparation for what was to follow after President George W Bush declared the “end of major combat operations” on May 1st. Iraq was still in a mess when the US troops finally withdrew in 2011 and remains so today. It was as I wrote in 2003, the wrong war at the wrong time – and by 2023 over 60% of US citizens were prepared to state that the U.S did not make the right decision by invading Iraq.

More on the March 2003 page of My London Diary where you can also find pictures of another protest against the war on Saturday 29th March calling for more balanced coverage by the BBC.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – 2006

Sunday, February 18th, 2024

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – On Saturday February 18th 2006 I photographed one of the continuing protests around the world which followed the publication by a Danish magazine of cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Mohammad in Trafalgar Square, then took the underground and DLR to Pudding Mill Lane station on Stratford Marsh to take more pictures of the area which was to be demolished for the London Olympics.

Proclamation for Global Civility – Trafalgar Square

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

Muslim protesters packed Trafalgar Square for a protest by the Muslim Action Committee over the publication of the cartoons which they regard as blasphemous, but also to publicise a ‘proclamation of global civility‘. The key points of this were the recognition of human dignity as a fundamental right, the need to good manners and etiquette in serious debate, a desire to avoid irresponsible behaviour and to underline the significance of mutual respect for a harmonious co-existence.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

The protest in London was kept in good order by stewards who remonstrated with some of the demonstrators who were in some way not behaving as they thought they should, and also moved photographers away from them and some other groups. But other protests around the world were much less restrained and news agencies that same day reported rioting outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which at least 10 people were killed as well as the storming and burning of Christian churches in northern Nigeria with at least 16 deaths.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

“As I pointed out in my report in 2006, human dignity was recognised as vital in “the preamble to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 of 10 December 1948. That declaration also contains a number of important safeguards such as ‘the right to freedom of opinion and expression‘ and states ‘in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.'”

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

There are still many countries around the world where the principles of human rights in that declaration are not observed, including in many in the Muslim world.

Manners and etiquette are clearly very different in different societies and different religions certainly have very different views, particularly over blasphemy and apostasy. In the west we now prioritise freedom of speech and look back in horror at the Spanish Inquisition and trails for heresy and blasphemy, although in England and Wales, the ‘blasphemy’ and ‘blasphemous libel’ laws were only abolished in 2008, and in Scotland in 2021, while they are still in force in Northern Ireland.

The last conviction for blasphemy in England and Wales was in 1977 when the editor of Gay News received a suspended prison sentence after publishing the poem ‘The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name’ by James Kirkup, and in Scotland it was more than a century earlier when a bookseller was jailed for 15 months in 1843, though until 1825 it had been punishable by death.

While we may find some of the cartoons that were published offensive, it clearly does not justify the irresponsible behaviour and criminal actions of some Muslim mobs protesting against them.

Away from the stewards as I wandered through the crowd I was generally welcomed by the protesters, with many urging me to take their pictures. I left as the speeches, most of which I could not understand as few spoke in English, were finishing and people were getting ready to march,

Scroll down the February 2006 web page for more.

Stratford Marsh – River Lea, Stratford

I’d first photographed Stratford Marsh back in the early 1980s as part of a wider project on the River Lea, once a large and important industrial area in London, but like most of British industry falling into decline, accelerated by the policies of the Thatcher government determined to transform Britain away from manufacturing and into services.

Stratford Marsh was then full of largely small businesses employing local people and many still remained in 2006, though already blighted both by government policies and the tax breaks given to the nearby Docklands area. Now Olympic blight had set in with the whole area to be remodelled, and there were also areas which would be demolished for Crossrail.

As I wrote back then and I think my pictures show:

It is still an intriguing area, where a few yards can take you from wilderness to industrial wasteland, from dereliction to busy workshops (though most were closed on a Saturday afternoon.) Parts are visibly closing down, with compulsory purchase orders hanging on lamposts, some footpaths closed and factories demolished.

There was one small sign of a kind of regeneration. the unusual lock between the Bow Back Rivers and Waterworks River at Baker Road, for many years derelict, at last seems to have been replaced.

My London Diary – Feb 2006

There are many more pictures from this walk – and others – on these pages on my River Lea site.

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Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races – 2013

Monday, February 12th, 2024

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races – Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, but in 2013 it fell on Tuesday 12th February and was celebrated in several places across London with Pancake races.

Shrove Tuesday is the final day of the Christian Shrovetide or Carnival, observed in different ways around the world as Wikipedia relates. It is the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. We are perhaps rather short-changed here in the UK with pancakes, while in Venice and Rio Janeiro they have real carnivals to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Some other countries also have rather more interesting foods than our traditional pancakes. All are ways to eat up richer foods before Lent when Christians ‘fasted’ or rather ate more simply for 40 days before Easter. It was also a day when people went to priests for confession to have their sins absolved – shriven – before getting down to serious service of repentance the following day, Ash Wednesday, and some churches still ring their bells to call in worshippers.

People in the UK have been eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday since the 16th century, and even in families which did not observe the ecclesiastical calendar almost everyone ate them on that day in my youth, even if in homes like mine they came after the standard meat and two veg. I’ve never been keen on them, and perhaps the best you can say about them is that British pancakes are rather better than crêpes.

In many towns and cities in Britain the day used to be a half-holiday and work ended before noon to be followed by some kind of riotous mob football games with hundreds taking part in the streets. But most of these ended with the passage of the 1835 Highways Act which banned playing football on public highways, though the tradition continues in a slightly more organised form in a few towns.

Pancake races are said to have begun in 1445 in Olney, Buckinghamshir when a woman making pancakes was surprised by the sound of the shriving bells and ran to church hot pan in hand, tossing the pancake on her way to stop it sticking. Whatever. But they soon became a fairly common tradition, along with various forms of begging and trick and treating now more associated with Halloween. But apart from a few particular instances – such as at Olney – these races and other practices had more or less died out by the twentieth century.

This century has seen a revival in pancake races, often raising funds for charities, including in London the Parliamentary Pancake Race between parliamentarians and press raising funds for Rehab and the City of London pancake races begun in 2004 by the Worshipful Company of Poulters to support the annual Lord Mayor’s Appeal.

I’ve photographed both these, and in 2013 made another visit to the City of London race in Guildhall Yard, then rushed from there to the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race at the Old Truman Brewery just off Brick Lane which was supporting the Air Ambulance and is a fancy dress team relay event. Races I’ve been to in other years have included those in Leadenhall Market and outside Southwark Cathedral as well as the Parliamentary race.

You can read more about both events and see many more pictures of them on My London Diary, where there are also pictures from the races in other years – put ‘pancake’ in the search box at the top of the My London Diary page to find more. Links to the 2013 races below:

Great Spitalfields Pancake Race
Poulters Pancake Race

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

Friday, November 17th, 2023

Our Flag & Olympic Site – On Saturday 17th November 2007 I had a more varied day than usual, beginning with a march my football supporters, then a walk around the outside of the then fenced off Olympic site followed by an Olympic-related symposium. I can’t remember anything about the symposium, though I think it was almost certainly critical of what was being done to London, its future being sacrificed to a highly commercial sports festival.

March For Our Flag – Westminster

Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

A few months earlier in February 2007 I’d photographed and written about a ‘March for Our Flag’ organised by football supporters, particularly Tottenham fans. The main group backing that – and the repeat march this month through Westminster – was the United British Alliance. There was a suggestion that, although a patriotic event, it was at least trying to detach itself from the racism of the far right.

The UBA web site described itself as “a multi-ethnic, multi-faith organisation with a passionate interest in reclaiming our once proud nation from the grip of international terror and political correctness gone-mad,with a view to re-installing some pride in our communities and way of life.”

Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

As I commented in November 2007:

Although individuals may well be sincere in these attempts, it isn’t so easy to shake off this impression. Some of the links on the [UBA] web site are to people and groups who I would consider as having extreme views, and the discussion you can find on football forums and elsewhere seems clearly Islamophobic.

Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

Although there were even fewer supporters this time – well under 200 – there did seem to be a slightly calmer attitude and a slightly wider range of people attending, although still only one or two black faces.

Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

Curiously enough, on the UBA web site galleries, all the marchers have their faces – or at least their eyes – blacked out. The only people not given this treatment are the police escorting the event.

Our Flag & Olympic Site 2007

As I’ve often said, the only way to protect our freedom is by being free. That includes standing up for what you believe – and being seen to do so. So I’m totally opposed to this kind of censorship of the news. Freedom of expression is a part of the British heritage of which I’m proud. As too are Morris Dancing, Association and Rugby football along with the many other things, including the way we have successfully integrated elements from other cultures and religions into our way of life over the years – and continue to do so.

My London Diary

My pictures from the 17th November do show one or two families and their children took part and I can see just one darker face among the young men. In view of recent events and the behavior of Suella Braverman my final two sentences are very appropriate and very relevant: “We all need far more positive messages and actions from our politicians to lead us all – including Britain’s muslims to a new and united vision of our society. Islamophobia needs combating, not encouraging.”

More pictures on My London Diary

Stratford – Olympic Edge

I walked out of Stratford Station and across the footbridge leading to the Carpenters Estate and on to Bridgewater Road, a dead end with a bridge across the tidal Waterworks River.

The road to Hackney Wick is firmly closed and so too was the Greenway just a few yards from the entrance on Stratford High Street.

You could walk down it just a few yards, and I took another picture looking back along the Waterworks River towards Bridgewater Road where I had been standing earlier.

I took a few pictures around the edge of the area, then walked back along the High Street towards the centre of Stratford.

The Log Cabin pub had been here at 335-337 High Street, Stratford as a coaching inn since at least the mid-18th century, though it was known as The Yorkshire Gray before being renamed around 1997 when the hiddeous green excresenes were added. The building was Grade II listed in 2003, almost certainly saving it from demolition and is thought to date from around 1740, and though parts were rebuilt in the late nineteenth century much of the interior had survived more or less intact. It closed in 2001 and is now a hotel.

My final picture was at The Working Mens Hall and Club Rooms on Romford Road, founded in 1865 and rebuilt in 1905, with the motto Labor Omnia Vincit (Work Conquers All). Perhaps it was here that the symposium was held, and I have a very vague recollection of a talk by Iain Sinclair, although that could have been on quite a different occasion.

A few more pictures here.

March for Peace and Liberty – 2005

Sunday, September 24th, 2023

March for Peace and Liberty – 2005 Eighteen years ago on Saturday 24th September around 50,000 of us were marching through London for peace and calling for the withdrawal of forces from Iraq.

March for Peace and Liberty

The protest, called by Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) coincided with an even larger protest in Washington close to the White House.

March for Peace and Liberty

Organisers of the Washington protest claimed that around 300,000 took part, while US police said the half that number was “as good a guess as any.” Police estimates of the London march were, as usual more political than based on any reality, and their figure of 10,000 was laughably low.

March for Peace and Liberty

I had developed my own simple methods to assess numbers. For smaller protests I’d simply stop at a suitable point and count those passing. When numbers got a little larger I’d count in groups of roughly ten, larger still groups of hundreds. Though sometimes that hundred might only have been 80 or sometimes 125 the overall figure was probably within around ten percent of the actual total.

March for Peace and Liberty

But with really large protests such as this, well over the police figure of 10,000, any form of counting is too time-consuming and tedious. I’d often still try to get a rough figure by counting for a minute where I was taking photographs a few times as the protest went part, and then make a rough estimate using the time the whole protest took to pass me. Typically the answer this gave me was around half the number claimed by the march organisers and anything around four to ten times the figure release by the police and often quoted by news media.

It’s a little difficult to find the text I wrote about the protest on My London Diary in 2005 as there are no headings in the text column on the September page, with headings and images in a separate unlinked column to the right – later I improved the site design to unite text and pictures and provided a list of links to stories which remains at the top of the monthly pages. Back in 2005 you simply had to scroll down a long page, and while the headings and text were simple to find, many viewers never managed to find the of text, which ends with a little art criticism. So here it is, with a few minor corrections:

What a fine mess you’ve got us into” is probably the conclusion of most of the British people about Blair’s decision to join in with Bush’s Iraq invasion in 2003. Quite how many of them turned up on the 24th to march for a British pull-out is a matter of contention. Both police and organisers estimates – ten and a hundred thousand respectively – seem to me extremely unlikely.

So I was there with probably between twenty-five and fifty thousand people, walking across Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament, despite it being a Saturday afternoon, with no business taking place inside, the ban on the use of amplification within a kilometre of parliament was still in force, so the event was a little quieter than usual. Some did choose to defy the ban and the police appeared not to notice.

Gate Gourmet supply in-flight meals for British Airways. It used to be a part of the company, but was separated out, then sold to American management. Rather like what is starting to happen in our National Health Service, and of course British Airways was also originally owned by the nation.

The company takes advantage of a largely Asian labour force living around the edge of the airport, paying them relatively low wages. The new management decided to cut labour costs even more by bringing in casual labour to do much of the work (while apparently employing more managers!) and when the employees held a meeting to protest, they were sacked.

Pressure from both BA and the union (TGWU) led to the company offering to take back some of the sacked workers, but not all, and the strike continues. Some of the strikers came to take part in the rally, to publicise their case as well as call for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Most of the usual people were there at the march, and I took their pictures again – and some are on the site. When the march started I hung around in Parliament Square to watch it go past before walking rather faster than the marchers up Whitehall.

By the time I’d reached Trafalgar Square and waited again for the end of the march to pass, my knee [I’d injured it earlier in the month] was beginning to ache and I didn’t feel up to walking to Hyde Park. I sat down and ate my sandwiches contemplating the new sculpture on the ‘fourth plinth’, ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ by Marc Quinn. This 15ft white marble shows Lapper, an artist born without arms, sitting naked and eight months pregnant, and will stay on the plinth until April 2007.

It is a striking piece of work and was obviously attracting a great deal of attention from the tourists in the square. I took my time sitting and looking at it while I was eating, and then walking round it from all sides (slightly impeded by the preparations for a juvenile TV show to be broadcast from the square the following day.) Lapper herself works with photographs of her body, and this statue is perhaps too like her black and white photographs, with a rather unpleasant surface, sometimes more soap than marble. I found myself thinking thank goodness for the pigeons who were perching on it and doubtless adding their contributions to it.

Its position up there on a plinth is not ideal. This is work that would be best seen from roughly the same level as its base. The other plinths in the square are occupied by men on horses, which raise their figures more suitably above the plinths. Perhaps when it leaves the square a more suitable display place can be found, but its present placing is a great for catalysing debate about disability. Of course another disabled figure dominates the square; Nelson has his back to her and does not need to call upon his blind eye not to see her.

Many more pictures on My London Diary

A Visit To Hull – 2018

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

A Visit To Hull: On Thursday 26th July 2018 I took the train to Hull with my wife. She had been born there and I had visited the city many times over the years, at first staying at her family home and since that was sold around 2000 at first with a friend and more recently in hotels.

A Visit To Hull
From the train – somewhere in Lincolnshire

Hull was the place where I really cut my photographic teeth, producing my first extended photographic project which was exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery there in 1983. You can see many of the pictures from the project on my web site Still Occupied… a View of Hull which I produced to celebrate Hull’s 2017 year as UK City of Culture, as well as in my earlier book of the same name, still available on Blurb where there is an extensive preview.

A Visit To Hull
Hull from our hotel window

Rather more of my pictures are also in a couple of albums on Flickr, one of black and white and a second of colour images and there is also some more recent work, including from the 2018 visit on My London Diary.

A Visit To Hull
Heaven & Hell Club (closed down) Anne St

After booking in to our city centre hotel we had time for a walk before dinner around the city centre and into the Old Town.

A Visit To Hull

Hull claims to have England’s smallest window – the crack between the two stones was a lookout for coaches, and of course the Land of Green Ginger, where there is also the Second Star on the Right and Straight on ’til morning.

Hull used to mean fish, but the Cod Wars put paid to that, though there are still some reminders of the past, and still former docks in the city, though this one is now a marina. And out to the east are more modern docks, with Hull remaining a major port though now much eclipsed by Immingham and Grimsby.

Fruitful Harvest III was moored in the marina, but was built for fishing from Peterhead and later moved to Buckie. By 2018 the ship was registered in Grimsby but no longer registered for fishing, now a just a pleasure craft.

Hull has changed radically since I first visited in 1965, and this area, now called Humber Quays, was then a derelict dockland area and lorry park. Now it has modern office blocks and a memorial to the many emigrants who landed in Hull from Europe and were then mostly entrained to Liverpool to continue their journey to the USA.

Across the mouth of the River Hull is Hull’s biggest tourist attraction, the Deep, opened in 2022. It was built on Sammy’s Point which in my pictures from the 1980s was a storage area for navigation buoys, but had much earlier been a shipbuilding site. In the foreground is a recent footpath bridging across a dry dock, now full of water, still in use until fairly recently.

Our walk had been vaguely following the Larkin Trail, based around the life and work of Hull’s most famous poet – though born in Coventry he became Librarian at the University of Hull in 1955 and remained in the city until his death in 1985, writing most of his best-known poems there. After dinner in a city pub we took a bus to rejoin the trail at Pearson Park when he lived in a flat from 1956-74 – the blue plaque is just visible in the picture.

From the park we walked back into the city centre towards our hotel as light was beginning to fall along Beverley Road, passing several closed pubs, including The Rose and the Bull Hotels.

You can see more pictures from this walk and from the next few days before we left for a a short stay at one of Hull’s seaside resorts, Hornsea, in the Hull Supplement to July 2018’s My London Diary.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil: I thought people might like some more naked cyclists so here are some pictures from the 2012 ride, eleven years ago today on 9th June 2012. Men were in a fairly large majority in the thousand or so riders taking part and photographically they represent rather more of a challenge, at least to make pictures that editors think suitable for family viewing. So I’ve chosen pictures of men, though there is a woman in one of them.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

The only country from where I’ve had any negative feedback about my pictures of naked cyclists is the USA, where I’ve had emails from teachers and librarians requesting that I remove these pictures from My London Diary as they say they make the site unsuitable for young people.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

I find this difficult to understand but reply politely refusing to do so. Their complaints seem to come from some kind of warped religious objection and I like to remind them “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” and to somehow find that image offensive seems to me to be blasphemy.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

Perhaps the most striking thing about the ride is not the nudity in itself but the variety of the human form it illustrates compared to the photographs of naked or near-naked people we usually find in newspapers or on our screens.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

I tried hard to find pictures that reflected the purpose of the ride, a protest against dependence on oil and other forms of non-renewable energy and a culture based on cars and to “expose the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians” in modern cities. Some of the riders did so with a considerable sense of humour.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

And some good drawing skills.

Careful timing and cropping sometimes makes the pictures more acceptable to a wider range of publications. And a bus with the message ‘Get Your Socks Off’ seemed rather appropriate though few in the frame were wearing them.

Another bus had three men in dark glasses who unlike all those watching the event from the pavements seemed to view it rather sternly. This is an event that causes a tremendous amount of hilarity on the streets as it goes past, but they are clearly not amused.

And finally, close to the former City Hall I photographed The Vitruvian Man.

There is a description of the ride and many more photographs – including some that would apparently shock some people at Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil.