Posts Tagged ‘Piccadilly Circus’

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party – London on Saturday February 16th 2013


Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK

The Alevi are Turkey’s largest religious minority, with between 10 and 20 million of them living in the country and worshipping in their own language. Their religion is Islamic but men and women worship together, and women are not required to cover their hair and poetry, music and dance are central to their worship. It is a distinct form of Muslim religion which is related to Shi’ism, which contrasts with the official Turkish Sunni practice.

It is a religion that cuts across Turkey’s ethnic groups, and although most Alevi are ethnic Turks about a quarter of Turkey’s Kurds are also Alevi. They have been persecuted in Turkey for centuries, often attacked and sometimes killed, and are not allowed to build worship houses. While Christian and Jewish children are exempted from the compulsory Sunny Islam religious classes in Turkish schools, Alevi are not.

Their protest in Trafalgar Square called for democracy in Turkey and an end to discrimination and persecution, and an end to the compulsory religious education. They also called for the UK government to live up to its responsibilities for all immigrant communities whose views they say are ignored here, calling on immigrants to ‘Unite and Fight’ to get political representation that would demand equal treatment over health and education and fighting crime.

Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


Defend the Union Flag

The Defend the Union Flag protest was called by the ‘South-East Alliance’ a small extreme right anti-immigration group of former English Defence League, whose leader Paul Pitt was thrown out of the EDL in 2012 to support Loyalists in Belfast who were protesting against a decision that the Union Flag should only be flown on the City Hall there on 18 designated days.

The protest was supported by other extreme right groups, notably Britain First, whose leader Paul Golding and Northern Ireland organiser Jim Dowson also spoke at the rally.

It was an uncomfortable event to photograph, and I received a number of threats and warnings from some of those taking party who I recognised from earlier protests I’d covered by the BNP, March for the Flag, EDL and Britain First, though many mistake me for another photographer who worked for Searchlight. A few who knew me were more friendly and came to talk with me. Although I’ve always made clear that I have different views, I’ve also tried to report these events objectively as a journalist.

Defend the Union Flag


Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock

Back in 2013 we were also being faced with rising fuel bills, and Fuel Poverty Action had organised a national day of action. In London this began with a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change on Whitehall and was then followed by a road block on Whitehall led by the Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network, DAN.

The rally on the pavement was crowded and was supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, Global Women’s Strike and others.

Cuts and price rises meant then that one in four families now has to choose between heating their homes adequately or eating properly. Many children now go to school hungry and even the wealthiest suburban areas now need to have churches and others setting up food banks for those unable to buy food.

The government had cut services and cut benefits as a part of their austerity programme. Their energy policy is largely dictated by the Big Six energy companies, who continue to increase their profits while the consumers of energy suffer and had largely ignored the pressing need to increase renewable energy and cut power generation for gas and coal that was powering global warming.

When DAN blocked the road, with some in wheelchairs chaining them together, the rally continued and police stood back and watched, diverting traffic away. After around 15 minutes they came to try and persuade them to leave the road. The arguments continued for around another 15 minutes, after which the protesters agreed they would leave in around a further 10 minutes. But I had to leave before they did so as I had a party to go to.

Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock


Reclaim Love Valentines Party

The 11th Reclaim Love free Valentine’s Party took place around Eros in Piccadilly Circus, aiming to spread peace and love around the world, and to reclaim love from its commercial exploitation.

I had been held up photographing the DAN roadblock and had missed the major part of the event when several hundred people held hands in a large circle around Eros, chanting together ‘May All The Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy & At Peace’. But it was good to meet up with some friends and take some pictures.

Venus Cumara, the originator of this annual event in 2003 told me this was this was the last she would organise and I made sure to get plenty of pictures of her. We occasionally talked about producing a book on the event together, but it hasn’t happened, though perhaps I might do so on my own one day.

As I wrote back in 2013:

There are really very few such spontaneous events in London like this, and this is unique in central London. I’ve photographed most of these events and I hope that they will continue with others taking over the running in future years.

Reclaim Love Valentines Party

You can read more about all four events and see many more pictures on My London Diary:
Reclaim Love Valentines Party
Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock
Defend the Union Flag
Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


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Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker – two events I photographed on St Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2015.


Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros

I’ve photographed the Valentine street party at Piccadilly Circus most years, though I missed the first one, but it seldom takes place actually on the 14th February, as since the event began in (I think 2003) there have been only two years where that has been a Saturday – 2009 and 2015.

A 2010 article in ‘Resurgence’ described the intentions of the event well:

Valentine’s Day, which has its origins as far back as the Middle Ages, is traditionally a day where people show their affection by sending each other handwritten ‘love notes’. But again, this simple affirmation has been hijacked by corporations to the point where cards, chocolates, jewellery – even weekend breaks – are now expected.

But not everybody wants to participate in this orgy of consumerism. Now in its seventh year, Reclaim Love is a global movement away from celebrating Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolates towards a day of celebrating Love itself. All around the world people are taking to the streets, parks or organised venues to link hearts and minds to send a warm message of love, unity and joy out into the world

Resurgence magazine
Venus Cumara

The event was conceived and coordinated by Irish poet Venus CuMara, and spread to a number of cities around the world, where at 3pm UTC also join hands in a large circle and recite together the mantra ‘May all the beings in all the world be happy and at peace’, an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit prayer.

Before and after this there is a great deal of celebration, with drumming, dancing and various free gifts of food and often t-shirts bearing the mantra. I have a couple of these, though have to admit I have seldom worn them, though I did give one away to one of my sons.

It wasn’t possible to hold a public gathering in 2021, but Venus asked for people to meditate at 3.30pm and hosted a livestream. I missed the event in 2020 as I was busy elsewhere, but it was very small, probably because of the abysmal weather.

2018

The last time I photographed Reclaim Love was in 2019, when we were all delighted to see Venus who despite suffering from cancer which is spreading through her body, was in great spirits and able to speak about her message of love. She had missed the previous year’s event as she was in Indonesia being treated for her cancer.

Venus in 2019

Venus asked people to go to Piccadilly Circus for Reclaim Love on 12 Feb 2022 in a video on the Facebook page, though this was only posted the previous day, and she apologised for not being able to be there in person. I went along to see if anything was happening a little after 3pm and found nothing, waited a few minutes and then left as I had another event to attend. Later I saw a photograph of around five people who were there at 3.33pm, the ‘circle’ time. Perhaps next year there will be more.

Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros


Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer

Earlier in the day I’d walked with protesters from Parliament Square to a rally opposite Downing St calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he arrived has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

He arrived at Guantanamo on the 14th February 2002, and there has been subjected to several hundred incidents of beating and torture, including one notorious occasion in June 2006 where he was taken to a special secret interrogation site; three men who were taken with him for similar treatment that day died from asphyxiation, but he survived similar treatment.

Long cleared for release he continued to be held, probably because his evidence would be embarrassing both for the US and UK authorities. He has a British wife and resident status, and a campaign led to the UK government eventually making requests for him to be freed after he was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009. Despite this they UK had also spent over a quarter of a million pounds in legal fees to prevent his legal team gaining access to evidence to prove his innocence.

He was eventually released at the end of October 2015.

Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer


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Fathers 4 Justice

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Fathers 4 Justice was a group begun in 2001 by marketing consultant Matt O’Connor to “champion the causes of equal parenting, family law reform, and equal contact for divorced parents with children.” The pictures here come from their protest in London’s West End on 18th December 2004

Between 2002 and 2008 members carried out a number of high-profile stunts which hit national headlines to promote their cause, the first of which saw a small group led by O’Connor storming the Lord Chancellor’s Office dressed as Father Christmas in December 2002. They went on to climb cranes and buildings including Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace dressed as superheroes, to carry out a ‘citizens arrest’ on the Minister for Children, throw bags of purple flour at Tony Blair in the House of Commons during Prime Ministers Questions and more.

Although protests continued after 2008, there was a split in the group with O’Connor officially closing the group and others setting up New Fathers For Justice. And although both groups continued to carry out publicity stunts, these have gained less and less publicity.

The activities of these groups perhaps have had some effect, with increasing attention being turned on the activities of our secretive Family Courts, and some small and continuing moves toward transparency.

However the 2014 Children and Families Bill which it was hoped would improve the situation was watered down by a Lord’s amendment removing a legal presumption of automatic shared contact still failed to prevent obstructive parents who had been granted custody of childen preventing children from any meaningful relationship with absent parents.

Although they were called Fathers 4 Justice, there are also mothers who were separated unjustly from contact with their children. But overwhelming custody of children in the Family Courts goes to the mothers, some of whom make it impossible for fathers to have the access to their children which the court has specified, but fails to enforce.

The protest on 18th December 2004 involved several hundred men, women and children dressed in santa gear (and a couple of individualists, including a young spiderman), a band, and a large and unwieldy balloon and hundreds of smaller ones parading peacefully around the West End. Their placards read ‘Put the Father Back Into Xmas’.

In 2005 I photographed two further protests by the group. In October Wakey Wakey Mr Blair, a ‘pyjama protest’ with those taking part asked to wear their jim jams, slippers and dressing gown, bring their hot water bottles, teddy bears and even their beds calling for overnight stays for children with their dads after separation and then in December 2005 24 Days of Christmas Chaos, when again Santas came to London to protest, this time at the Church of England Offices, Department of Education & Skills and Downing St on their way to the Royal Courts of Justice.

Ten Years Ago – 30 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Occupy protesters outrun police down Haymarket

Ten years ago today on Wednesday 30th November the TUC called a one day general strike over the government plans to cut public service pensions and their failure to enter any meaningful discussion with the trade unions on them.

The Southern & Eastern Region of the TUC, SERTUC, organised a march and rally in London, and at least 20,000 people came for a peaceful march through the capital. At the head of the march was TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, along with leaders of several of the other unions and professional associations taking part in today’s strike by public sector workers.

Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and NASUWT president John Rimmer and a French trade unionist

Along with many strikers, including many taking strike action and marching for the first time there were also others who came to join them, including students and groups including UK Uncut and activist groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, and a number of people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks.

Some of these people began walking ahead of the official march and police stretched a line of officers across Aldwych stopping both them and the march behind them, but eventually they let the march continue. Although the march was going to Parliament along the Embankment, police had closed off Whitehall and created more traffic chaos than the large march.

UK Uncut had come to support the march and were handing out cups of tea from a yard in front of some offices on the square in what they called a ‘solidaritea!!’ action to support the strike.

Later around a hundred protesters from Occupy London rushed into the building in which mining company Xstrata has its offices in a protest against Mick Davies, its CEO, who they say “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

They met at Picadilly Circus under the eyes of around a hundred police watching and photographing them from the steps around Eros, and after around half and hour in intermittent rain a small group rushed across the road to stand outside a branch of Boots with a banner reading ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’, but made no attempt to enter the store, which then quickly put down its metal shutters.

Protesters rush into Panto House

But this was just a diversion, and the rest of the group rushed down Haymarket behind a long banner reading ‘All Power to the 99%’ and then turned abruptly down Panton St and rushed into Panton House. The police had got rather left behind and were unable to stop them, and I followed in after some of the protesters, but got very out of breath rushing up the stairs.

A crowd of protesters make it hard to get up the stairs

I hadn’t picked up completely on what was happening, and failed to get up to the roof where a group of around 20 was continuing the protest against Mick Davies, CEO of mining Company Xstrata and the highest paid CEO in the UK. Police forced me and other protesters still on the stairs to go down and leave the building.

I was disappointed not to get onto the roof with other photographers, but rather pleased that, since it was impossible to take more pictures I could now go home. Those on the roof were kept there by police for rather a long time and those who had hung around on the street outside were also kettled.

See more on My London Diary:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March


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Catalonia & Levitation

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

I began work on Saturday October 21st 2017 with a large group of Catalans at Piccadilly Circus, demanding immediate release of the political prisoners Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, and end to the repression and the start of dialogue to accept the electoral mandate of the Catalan Referendum.

After several speeches they set of to march to Trafalgar Square for photographs and then on to Downing St where they called on the UK Government to condemn the violence towards civilians during the referendum vote in Catalonia and to support a democratic solution.

In June 2021 the nine separatist leaders who had been jailed for sedition in 2017 were released, and talks finally restarted in September, with the Catalan government demanding an amnesty for the many pro-independence politicians still facing legal action over their part in the 2017 independence referendum and for the Spanish government to acknowledge their right to hold a referendum on self-determination, both demands still resisted by the government.

March in Solidarity with Catalonia


I left the Catalans at Parliament Square, where it wasn’t clear if their protest was ended but I was on my way to meet Class War’s Levitation Brigade of Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests with a similar action at Kensington Town Hall.

Standing on the steps of the entrance to the town hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the council responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, Adam called out the demons of councillors including Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell and attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!

A security officer told them that they couldn’t do that here, but they told her it wasn’t possible to stop a levitation or exorcism and the ceremony went ahead.

Afterwards Ian Bone repeated a well-known quote from 1967 “You mean you didn’t see it, man?”

Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall

Flushed with success the Levitation Brigade decided to cross Kensington High St and repeat the exorcism and levitation at the offices of the Daily Mail, standing on the pavement outside between the offices and a highly polished Rolls-Royce.

Security staff there reacted angrily to Class War calling out the demon of Paul Dacre and their attempt to raise the building by over 70 metres, perhaps fearing it might damage the Rolls-Royce parked outside, but the levitation ceremony went ahead despite considerable interference.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail

Security here reacted rather more aggresively, coming to push the crew away and telling me I could not take photographs. I was standing on the pavement and told them I had every legal right to photograph whatever I chose, but had to move back rahter smartly to avoid getting fingerprints on my lens.

Class War of course found the over-reaction by the Daily Mail extremely amusing and continued to bait the security for some minutes after the levitation before leaving as you can see on My London Diary.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall


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Kyoto & One In Love – 2005

Friday, February 12th, 2021

The texts from two posts from My London Diary for Saturday 12 Feb 2005, sixteen years ago. I’ve had to change the formatting a little to fit this site, but otherwise the text is identical. There are more pictures from each event on My London Diary.

Campaign against Climate Change Kyoto Climate March

London, 12 Feb, 2005

When i talked about the dangers of increasing co2 emission and the need to cut down use of fossil fuels 35 years ago, i was a crank. now everyone except the usa oil lobby and their political poodles recognises that climate change is for real. even blair has recognised it as the most vital issue facing us, threatening the future of the planet, although actually taking effective action still is a step too far for him. however he did call for a conference to examine the problem, which told him and us that we had perhaps ten years to take action before it would be to late.

Caroline Lucas

kyoto is history now thanks to the US boycott, (although it comes into effect this week), but it should have been the first inadequate step on the road to action. every journey has to start somehow, and even a half-hearted step is better than none, and would have led the way to others. what got in its way was texan oil interests, whose political face is george w bush.

i’ve photographed most of the campaign against climate change’s kyoto marches over the past few years. this one was probably the largest, and certainly excited more media interest, truly a sign that the issue has become news.

starting in lincoln’s inn fields, the march stopped first outside the uk offices of exxonmobil, on the corner of kingsway, for a brief declaration, then for a longer demonstration outside the australian high commission in aldwych (with guest appearances by ‘john howard’ and an australian ‘grim reaper’ with cork decorated hat), before making its way past trafalgar square and picadilly circus to the us embassy.


O-I-L One in Love

Reclaim Love, Eros, Picadilly Circus, London, London, 12 Feb, 2005

i left them in picadilly and returned to eros, where o-i-l, one in love, were organising a small gathering to “reclaim love” and “send love and healing to all the beings in the world” on the eve of valentine’s day. it’s something we could all do with, and it was good to see people enjoying themselves around the statue of eros, in what is usually one of the most depressing spots on london’s tourist circuit.

there was the samba band again, rhythms of resistance, (hi guys) and dancing and people generally being happy and friendly and free reclaim love t shirts and apart from the occasional showers it was harmless fun. rather to my surprise, the police either didn’t notice it or decided to ignore it, an unusually sensible strategy.


More pictures of both events on My London Diary.

This year there can be no street party at Eros in Piccadilly Circus, but Venus CuMara invites you to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Operation Infinite Love, Global Annual Love and Peace Meditation/street party by joining her on her Youtube ‘love stream / live stream/ life stream’ Global Love Meditation at 3.33 pm on St Valentine’s Day, Sunday 14th February 2021.

“MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE”


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.


November 30th 2011

Monday, November 30th, 2020

November 30th fell on a Wednesday in 2011, and it was the day of a strike by public sector workers against government plans to cut their pensions as part of the austerity programme following the banking crisis. As I wrote back then:

Feelings are certainly running very high over pension injustice, as well as over the government cuts in jobs and services. The widespread feeling across the country – not just trade unionists – that our government is made of of the wealthy and privileged who just do not understand the problems of ordinary people was reflected in the two hand-written placards I photographed, both with photographs of Cameron and Osborne alongside the texts ‘Eton Boys, Do you Feel Our Pain, As You Order Your Champagne‘ and ‘No Cuts For You, Eton Boys!!’

The day had begun early for strikers at Wandsworth Town Hall who had been on the picket line since 6am at the Town Hall and other council sites across the borough, though I only joined them around 4 hours later, when many were about to leave to join the TUC march in central London, and I also made my way to a packed Lincoln’s Inn Fields where around 20,000 were assembling.

As well as public sector workers – including many from associations which have no record of previous strike action or taking part in protests – there were activists from groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks and other supporters, including political artist Kaya Mar with his painting of coalition leader David Cameron and his Lib-Dem sidekick Nick Clegg carrying blood-stained axes.

There were also a group of French trade unionists from the CGT, come to support their English colleagues – here in a picture beside Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and John Rimmer, president of the NASUWT.

More joined the march along the route to Westminster. It was a peaceful march which hardly merited the huge police presence, and I think the French trade unionists will have thought it very restrained, although some groups, particularly some of the students, did liven it up a little with loud chanting and the occasional surge. The rally had already begun when I arrived, although the end of the march was still almost a mile back.

I didn’t wait to hear the speeches, but went to Piccadilly Circus, where Occupy London protesters from the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral were gathering for a protest against corporate greed. I stood with them for around half an hour while we all waited for something to happen, watched by a large crowd of police. It began with a diversion as around 30 people with the ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’ banner that I’d photographed earlier on the TUC march rushed across the road to protest outside Boots, drawing much of the police attention.

Others by Eros were getting ready the main banner ‘All Power to the 99%’ which they then rushed along the street with the rest of the protesters following, going down Haymarket, and I rushed along with them taking pictures. At Panton St, one of them lit a bright orange flare and they all turned down the street to Panton House, where some rushed into the foyer.

I stopped there to take a few pictures rather than rushing to follow them up the stairs. By the time I turned to follow them the stairs were rather crowded but I made my way up to the third or fourth landing before deciding I was out of breath and probably not going to get to the top as the stairs were too crowded. By then the police had begun to catch up, and stopped me going down. And although police were shouting and me and the others on the stairs to go down, other police were pushing us out of the way when we tried to do so as they rushed up to the roof.

Eventually I managed to make my way out and try to take a few pictures as protesters on the roof lowered banners over the edge while others outside formed a ‘human microphone’ to let everone know what the protest was about.

Occupy London had chosen Panton House as it contains the London offices of the mining Company Xstrata, whose CEO Mick Davies they say is the highest paid CEO in the UK, but according to their statement, “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

I was sorry not to have made it to the roof as several other photographers had done, but at least I was able to slip through the police kettle and go home early after a rather tiring day.

More pictures at:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March
Wandsworth Nov 30 Rally

31st October 2009

Saturday, October 31st, 2020
“My Son (Paul Calvert) went to prison to lose his liberty not his life!”

In 2009 the 31st October was also a Saturday, and a busy day for me in London, though today I’ll be staying home and only going to the UFFC annual memorial on-line event which starts at 1pm. In 2009, the UFFC had also decided not to march, but groups from some of the families of those killed by police had come with their banners to protest opposite Downing St.

Earlier I’d photographed a mass protest ride by motorcyclists, angry at Westminster Council’s imposition just over a year earlier of parking charges for motorbikes as an ‘experimental measure’ which has become permanent as a good money-earner for the council. It did seem ridiculous that bikers were being charged more for an annual permit than owners of small cars when 8 motorbikes can be parked in one car space. Although still contributing to pollution in the city, motorbikes take up considerably less road space too, their use reducting congestion which is a major factor in producing the lethal levels of air pollution that result in almost 10,000 premature deaths in London as a whole.

 I’d gone on the photograph two groups protesting against the planned ‘March for Sharia’ by Anjem Choudary’s Islam4UK (a 2009 rebrand and relaunch of the radical Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, disbanded in 2004 to avoid proscription). Choudary, widely believed to have been cultivated by the UK security forces, probably never actually intended the group to march but announced as a provocation, always intended as a ‘no show’. He issued a statement around the time it was due to begin that the organisers had cancelled the march because of security concerns.

The two groups had gathered around the statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus, although the information I’d heard from Islam4UK was that they would march from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square via Downing St, around 600 yards away from the counter-protesters. There was certainly a lot of misinformation around before the event, and both Muslims4UK and The Islamic Society of Britain had called off plans for a counter-demo, possibly anticipating there was not to be a march. The larger group of protesters were supporters of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

Also present were a number supporters of extreme right anti-Islamic groups including the English Democrats, March For England and a few from the EDL. Later I found that more of the EDL were wandering around the Parliament Square area where the March4Shariah had been planned to start.

As I walked down from Piccadilly Circus towards Downing St and went through Trafalgar Square I met several angels, and accepted the offer of a hug, something we are currently rather short of, from one of the Angels of Love, Compassion, Wisdom, Patience, Courage, Happines or Harmony who gave me a picture of an angel on the reverse of which was written “I purify my mind by affirming my worth and honouring my choices for love.” I thanked her but refused the offer of a rose as I needed my hands for my cameras.

After talking with the ‘United Friends and Families‘ of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prison and ‘secure’ mental health facilities who were protesting at Downing St, I continued down to Parliament Square, where I met with other photographers and journalists who had been waiting for the March4Shariah to begin. None of those from Islam4UK had turned up and I went home.

United Families and Friends
Be With an Angel
Moderates gainst March4Sharia
Right Wing against March4Sharia
Protest Ride at Bike Parking Charge


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.


Catalan evening

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

It was around a quarter past five by the time the Catalan protest got going on the steps around Eros, and in mid-February this was sunset, though it seemed rather darker than this suggests. Of course with the amount of street lighting and lights in shop windows and traffic it never really gets dark, but the contrast between the brightness of the advertising display on one side of Piccadilly Circus and the opposite side of the monument was pretty huge, and the protesters seemed to be in very deep shadow,

Using the Nikon D750 and D810, with both set to ISO 6400 allowed me exposures of around 1/125 at f5.6 without flash, though these were deliberately underexposed by a stop or so to keep something of a night look.

I didn’t have any fast lenses with me – and don’t own anything faster than f2.8 for the Nikons, finding them too heavy to carry and unsuited to most of the work I do where wide apertures mean the depth of field is too limited, though there are times when a fast telephoto would certainly help. But apart from the cost of the lenses I’d probably find myself needing the services of an osteopath. Although the Nikon lenses are remarkably good wide-open, when possible I like to stop down just a little, and most of these were taken at 1/2 to one stop down from the variable maximum.

I used flash for about half of these pictures, with a Nikon SB800 in the hot-shoe, but still worked at ISO 3200 to avoid getting people looking like cardboard cutouts in front of a black background, making sure that areas too far away to benefit from the flash were still getting enough exposure from ambient light. Although normally I work with the cameras on the ‘P’ setting (but often altering the selected shutter speed) Nikon’s flash system doesn’t really work with this, and when using flash I switch to aperture or shutter priority or sometimes full manual.

Flash on camera is always a problem where important parts of the subject are at different distances from the camera, and sometimes I make use of the fall-off of flash away from the centre, angling the flash head away from the closer parts of the subject. But inevitably some, often considerable, burning and dodging is needed when processing the images. Even in those taken without flash the lighting was pretty uneven and some correction was needed. If I can tell which of the images was taken with flash and which without except by looking at the EXIF data I don’t think I’ve got it right.

More at Against political trial of Catalan leaders


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Valentine for Venus

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Like everyone else at this year’s Reclaim Love street party I was delighted that Venus CuMara, who founded this remarkable annual street party back in 2004 was there, and to hug her and to hear her speak.

I missed that first event in 2004 as I was in Paris with my wife for Valentine’s Day and her birthday a few days later. This year was the 16th ‘Reclaim Love’ free Valentine’s Day street party and like all except I think the first which began in Trafalgar Square, took place around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, with drumming, music, dancing poetry to celebrate reclaim love as a manifestation of the human spirit from the sleazy commercialisation which has taken over Valentine’s Day as a festival of profit.

Many of us still have the free t-shirts which were handed out to all who wanted them at several of these events, with their message “MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE, though mine is now a little stained and doesn’t often get worn.

It was this same mantra that was repeated as those present made a large circle around Piccadilly Circus to share Venus’s message of peace and love around the world. Venus called it a “Massive Healing Reclaim Love Meditation Circle beaming Love and Happiness and our Vision for world peace out into the cosmos“.

Police stood back and watched this unofficial event each year, sometimes coming to persuade those who had climbed up onto the top of the fountain to come down. I think the only more serious intervention came when one year everyone went to the sacred grove of trees in Green Park to make the large circle there, and the police in the park were definitely not amused.

Beginning in 2005, I’ve photographed the street party almost every year and shared the pictures on-line, both on Facebook and on My London Diary. I missed 2016, when I was too ill to go, and 2017 when I was in Hull (both celbrating the city of culture and again my wife’s birthday.)

Venus and I have talked on several occasions about bringing out a book with my pictures of the events and her poems and reflections, but haven’t got around to making it happen.

A couple of years ago we were shocked to hear that Venus was suffering from cancer, and she missed the 2018 party at a retreat in Indonesia. But this year she was back again, though with the cancer still spreading through her body, speaking about it and about how we should all hug ourselves and each other. Her cancer has made her even more determined to spread her message of love.

Much more at Reclaim Love 2019 street party


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