my london diary index


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LGBT rights abuses in Chechnya

Rusian Embassy, London. Sat 22 Apr 2017

Outside the gates of the Russian Consular Dept
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People brought pink flowers and wrote messages on pink triangles outside the gates of the Consular department of the Russian Embassy to show solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya.

Over a hundred men, suspected by the authorities of being homosexual have been rounded up an put into camps and tortured, with three thought to have been killed. Those held include many well-known in the country, including TV personalities and religious figures.

The Amnesty petition states "The Chechen government won’t admit that gay men even exist in Chechnya, let alone that they ordered what the police call 'preventive mopping up' of people they deem undesirable" and the London vigil was one of a number taking place across the UK.
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Scientists Rally for Science

Parliament Square, London. Sat 22 Apr 2017

Scientists listen to speeches at the rally
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I was later than I hoped to arrive at the rally at the end of the march for science in Prliament Square, but there still seemed to be quite a few people speaking. But I didn't recognise many of them and didn't stay long.

The speakers were listed as:

Robin Ince, comedian, writer and broadcaster
Dr Brenna Hassett, bioarchaeologist and author
Dr Francisco Diego, astronomer and broadcaster
Dr Suze Kundu, materials chemist and science communicator
Jon Butterworth, professor of physics
Angela Saini, author and science journalist
Pete Etchells, science writer and senior lecturer in psychology
Dr Andrew Steele, chair of Science is Vital
Heydon Prowse, BAFTA winning director, writer and comedian
Dr Aysha Raza -
Ealing councillor and NHS campaigner

I didn't photograph them all, though some are in my pictures here and from the march where you may recognise them. Most I didn't know and haven't named.
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Reform Family Courts

Kensington Gardens, London. Sat 22 Apr 2017

People listen to speeches at the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens
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Campaigners, including many who have suffered injustice in our secret Family Court system and from police and social services, marched from Parliament to a rally at the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens highlight the urgent need for reform.

Several speakers told horrendous real life stories of children being taken away from victims of domestic violence, mothers who had reported child abuse by partners or former partners, and other injustices.

Some present were unable to speak as they were gagged by court orders made in secret, and a woman at the protest was being forced to live away from friends, job and family. Another told us of the battle she had to regain her daughter, taking 7 years and costing her £14,000.

Present at the protest was the father of Hayley Gascoigne, a 32 year-old mother of four who collapsed after being given a judgement in a family court hearing in Hull on January 26.

A more controversial figure who spoke was Sir Benjamin Slade, who owns two castles in Somerset and was earlier in the week in the news for advertising for a young wife to serve his needs. He spoke about a fomer worker for his estates who had approached him for help after social services had taken away his children for what appeared to be trivial reasons. Sir Ben had a chat with a friiend who was editor of a major newspaper and mounted a campaign which was eventually succesful in getting the children returned. He was currently involved in the case of a young woman who was being forced against her will to live in Torquay and was at the protest with him.

The protest, and another in Nottingham, had been arranged to support a particular woman currently involved in a case in the family court, but on the previous afternoon a family court judge had ruled that her name could not be menitioned. Although we all knew her name, we would be commiting an offence if we named her - and the protest became known simply as Justice4S.

The protesters want reform of the Family court, Police and Social Services and Justice system to make the decisions of these courts open and accountable and to bring an end to the failures, corruption and system abuse that has happened to them, and to end the covering up of failures by police and social services. They call for better training for police and social services in dealing with abuse victims and for a register of stalkers and an end to unfair gagging orders.
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Scientists march for Science

Kensington, London. Sat 22 Apr 2017
The march starts on Exhibition Road
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Thousands of scientists and supporters of science gathered outside the Science Museum to march through London to a rally at Parliament to celebrate the vital role that science plays in our lives and to call for an end to the fake news and fake science such as climate denial by politicians such as Trump which will prove disastrous.

They want the UK and other governments to base their policies on proven research rather than anecdote and prejudice, and call for the international cooperation in science threatened by Brexit and isolationism around the world to be protected.

It was a considerably more nerdy protest than most, and some of the posters and placards were difficult event for someone like me with a couple of science degrees in my past to understand. Many scientists do seem to have a problem in communicating with the rest of us and write slogans like 'Do I have large P-value? Cos I feel Insignificant' or 'dT=α.ln(C1/C0)'.

I left the march as the end of it turned into the Kensington Road on its way to Parliament Square and walked into Kensington Gardens where anoher event was about to take place. Later I made my way to the rally in Parliament Square - see above.
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Valley Gardens

Virginia Water, Surrey. Fri 21 Apr 2017

Skunk lily
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A family walk in Virginia Water.

Mainly we were around the Valley Gardens, which were full of rhododenons in flower, and I took a few pictures. They were quite impressive and I'm told it will be a long time before there is such a great display, as the whole area is to be renewed and cut back as the bushes are agettting too large. It will be some years before they return to be as prolific as this year. After walking around we went and had a pub lunch which as fairly forgetable.
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Richmond to Greenford

London. Sat 15 April 2017

Canalside dock at Brentford which has now lost its roof and become an art project
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I walked this section of the Capital Ring with Linda on 'Holy Saturday'.

I'm not really a great fan on designated walks such as this, but I had bought her the book on the Capital Ring. But personally I'd rather either just set off from somehwere and go whichever way looks most interesting - as I did most of the time taking the pictures in London Dérives, or spend time looking at OS Maps and planing my own routes. But at least with paths like the Capital Ring you know that you are not going to have to hack through 6 foot nettlebeds or illegal barbed wire or face too many raging bulls - and one is too many.

This wasn't the most exciting of walks for me, as we'd walked half of it - along by the Brent - in the opposite direction a few months earlier. But it was pleasant enough if just a little on the long side for my aging knees, and both start and finish easy (and cheap) to reach by public transport.

From Richmond the walk goes by the river and across the lock bridge to Islewroth, where we stopped briefly for a pint and a coffee in the Swann Inn. Riverside development has spoiled the place a little (and more happening now) but it still retains some of the old character. The pub where I bought my first pint of beer when I was a Senior Sea Scout (for 1s5d) has gone, now a private house, but there are still a few left, including the famous London Apprentice, always worth avoiding.

The tide was low and we could have walked across to the Ait, and I remember paddling and swimming here as a boy - and I think the odd outing in a boat when I was a scout (I leant to row badly), as well as rather more often taking the ferry with my family across the river to Kew Gardens.

I'd done the next part of the walk to Brentford through Syon Park recently too, a year or so ago with my elder son, and then the path along the towpath beside the Grand Union many times, both walking and on my bike. The short seciton from Brentford Bridge to the railway line is saddening, with new waterside developments having almost completely destroyed its character.

The next five miles or so by the canal and then the RIver Brent is largely unexciting. Too much green, and too little incident until you reach the splendid Hanwell VIaduct, and beyond that Brent Lodge Park. Beyond that the final 2.5 miles seemed rather tedious, and I was getting hot and tired and would happily have given up and taken the bus if my partner had allowed.
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Good Friday procession of witness

Staines, Middx. Fri 14 Apr 2017

A man wheels a cross in the High St
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Christians in Staines held a procession of witness on Good Friday, marching behind the Salvation Army band thourgh the High St to the Two Rivers shopping estate where they held a service and gave out free hot cross buns with a flier explaining their significance.
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St Paul's - Ecce Homo twice

City of London. Thu 13 Apr 2017

Mark Wallinger's lifesize sculpture Ecce Homo at the top of the steps of St Paul's Cathedral
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Amnesty International and artist Mark Wallinger in collaboration with St Paul's Cathedral display his statue of Jesus with a crown of golden barbed wire rather than thorns, Ecce Homo, on the steps of the cathedral "to highlight the plight of those who face torture or execution or imprisonment for their political, religious or other beliefs."

The sculpture had looked small and insignificant when it was the first to be displayed on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square seemed far better suited to its location on the steps, where people could approach it closely. Roughly life-size (who knows how tall Jesus was, many tourists took the opportunity to be photographed standing alongside it, though I rather thought they detracted from its impact, and photographed the statue without them.

Around the corner, another man was on display, fully clothed and sitting on another set of Cathedral steps, wearing a white dunces cap with eyeholes and the word 'SINNER' on it. He sat ignoring questions from onlookers and read the Times Literary Supplement dated the following day.
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Axe subsidy to massive polluter Drax

City of London. Thu 13 Apr 2017

Drax gets £600m environmental subsidy for massive pollution from biomass
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Environmental campaigners from Biofuelwatch, Axe Drax and London Rising Tide protest outside the offices of Schroders and Invesco, the major shareholders in Drax, the UK’s largest and most polluting power station.

Drax mainly burns coal from Colombia, where open cast mining is causing large-scale human rights abuses, land grabs and water and air pollution, but it also burnss 13 millions of tons of wood pellets per year, mainly from clear cutting highly diverse coastal wetland forests in southern USA.

Drax receives a huge £1.5m per day subsidy from our electricity bills intended to finance clean renewable energy despite scientific studies showing burning wood is environmentally disastrous, producing large amounts of carbon dioxide when burnt and eliminating for many years the capacity of the forests which are felled to absorb carbon.

The protest was held while the Drax AGM was taking place in York, probably moved there to avoid the protests outside it that have taken place every year in London. A protest was also taking place in York.
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Human Chain at Latin Village

Seven Sisters, London. London.Sat 8th Apr 2017

Campaigners to save the Latin Village form a human chain around the block
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A lively protest supporting the Save Latin Village Campaign opposed the demolition of the largest Latin American community market in England at Seven Sisters in north London.

They want to save this community resource against the plans for demolition, part of the ongoing social cleansing and gentrification of the block by Haringey Council with property developers, which would replace it with expensive flats and chain stores, profiting investors at the expense of the community.

In 2008 London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote asking the council to review the scheme, but the council now plan to go ahead. The afternoon protest included dancers, samba bands and a human chain around the block, and was continuing into the evening when I left for home.
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March Against Chemical Warfare in Syria

Marble Arch, London. London. Sat 8th Apr 2017

The protest goes down Oxford St
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Protesters met at Marble Arch to march along Oxford St on their way to a rally at Downing St against Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The protest, organised by RefugEase and Syria Solidarity Campaign calls on the UK Government to protect civilians in Syria and to support Syrians as they struggle to survive against a regime determined to exterminate them.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoon near Idlib on April 4th, like that on Ghouta three years ago, used Sarin nerve agent, this time killing over 100 and injuring over 400.

I left the march as it went along Oxford St to catch the tube at Oxford Circus.
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Boat dwellers fight evictions

Embankment Gardens, London. Sat 8th Apr 2017

People sit and listen to speeches in Embankment Gardens
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Boat dwellers, including many families, helold a rally before they march to Downing St and DEFRA to demand the Canal & River Trust (CRT) stops evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers without permanent moorings.

They say the right to use and live on a boat without a permanent mooring on CRT waterways is enshrined in the British Waterways Act 1995 and that the CRT is acting unlawfully in imposing limitations based on minimum distance of movement or pattern of travel.

They also demand the CRT be told to abandon plans for chargeable bookable moorings and to stop selling off our waterways. They want proper maintenance of locks, bridges and waterway banks; more mooring rings; more water taps and more sanitary facilities.

I left for another protest as a succession of people were speaking and the march seemed unlikely to start for some while.
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Zuma Must Go

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 8 April 2017

A woman blows a vuvuzela in the crowd at the protest
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South Africans protested outside the South African High Commission in London in defence of South Africa's democracy and called for the removal of President Zuma.

They say he has threatened our economy by firing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas on the strength of a bizarre and seemingly last minute “security report”.

The large crowd was tightly packed into a small area outside South Africa House and the police had to move some barriers to allow them to use part of the road. Even then parts of the crowd near the centre of the protest were still too tightly packed to allow me to get close enough to really photograph the event properly, and I left to go elsewhere while the event still had several hours to run - and more were still arriving.
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UAF protest extreme right marches

Westminster, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017

Protesters look towards the EDL and Britain First protests a hunred yards down the Embankment
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The UAF and others opposing the Britain First and EDL marches had been restricted by police to holding a static protest on the Embankment, and had been harassed and attacked by police as they moved from their previously advertised meeting point opposite South Africa House down Whitehall to reach the area they were allowed to protest in.

This was around a hundrerd yards south of where the extreme right rallies were taking place close to each other, and there were extensive barriers and many police to stop the two sides approaching each other. When I was photographing the right wing rallies I could see the UAF and hear that they were shouting 'Facist Scum off our streets' and other slogans, and that there were also some speeches.

But I could not walk along the embankment between the two groups, and by the time I had finished photographing the fascists and walked the quarter-mile detour that was necessary many of the counter-protesters had left for home and the speeches had ended.
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Britain First & EDL exploit London attack

Westminster, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017

Paul Golding in front of the Britain First banner
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Marches and rallies by Britain First and the EDL (English Defence League) in reaction to the London terror attack were opposed by the Anti-Fascist Network, London Antifascists and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who accuse the extremist right of using the attack to fuel their anti-Muslim and anti-migrant racist propaganda.

Police had issued restrictions on the two marches, confining them to defined routes, and on the UAF allowing only a static protest. There were scuffles and arrests as police attacked the anti-fascists as they moved from their meeting point in Trafalgar Square to the protest area on the Embankment, past a pub where the EDL were meeiting, with some heavy-handed attacks on protesters and at least one potographer.

The EDL were forced to retreat back into the pub where they were meeting until the police cleared the area. The two marches then went ahead, both with a large police escort.
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Iraqis protest US killing in Mosul

Downing St, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017

A woman holds up a photograph showing the devastatio caused by US bombing in Mosul
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Iraqis, mainly women dressed in black, protested opposite Downing St against the civilians killed by US and Iraqi forces in the assault on Mosul.

The say that hundreds have been killed by US air strikes after being told to stay in Mosul. Some people were prevented from leaving and then bombed. The protest was organised by a group of Iraqi women, one of whom told me a nine-year old relative in Mosul had died earlier today. The women held up photographs showing some results of the US bombing.
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Youth protest over housing benefits loss

Paliament Square, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017

Young protesters came to Parliament Squre againt the scrapping of housing beneits for 18-21 yr-olds
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A grass roots group of young people, '#1821Resist', came to Parliament Square to protest against the scrapping of housing benefit for young people which comes into force today.

They say that under Tory rule since 2010 homelessness has doubled and that this change will continue to leave vulnerable people without homes, making it almost impossible for them to get into work or education.
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Flowers for London Victims

Westminster, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017
People photograph the flowers left on the lamposts of Waterloo Bridge
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Ten Days after the Westminster terror attack by a deranged driver, people are still stopping to look and and photograph the flowers for the victims, around the lamp standards on Waterloo Bridge, along the whole of the front of Parliament Square and in front of New Scotland Yard in its new building on the Victoria Embankment, where an eternal flame also remembers all police who have died while doing their duty.
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Motorcycle Theft Protest Ride

Westminster, London. Sat 1 Apr 2017

Riders wait at the traffic lights to ride around Parliament Square
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Hundreds of bike riders set out on two rides from the Ace Café in Stonebridge and Greenwich into central London to raise awareness about the growing problem of motorbike theftand I photographed them in and around Parliament Square.

Home Office statists show a rise of motorbike thefts of 44% between 2012 and 2016, and bikes are being targeted by organised gangs armed with cordless disc cutters which can cut through any lock.

The petition to the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary asks for the police to be given greater resources to tackle this crime, and for them to give it higher priority, for more ground anchors in bike parking bays and for tougher sentencing of offenders.

The rides were safe and well-stewarded but made quite a noise, but unfortunately were well spread out by the time they reached Westminster, reducing their impact.
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