my london diary

july 2003

i'm never quite sure what i think of pageantry and all that kind of thing. it can be impressive, but it's also oppressive. you and i won't be invited to take a place at the feast, that's for sure. everything arranged by the powerful to work for the benefit of a small coterie of the right people.

BSL is British Sign Language, a method of communication using hands, body and face that has grown up among deaf people in various parts of the country - with different regional dialects.

BSL signers are often hard to photograph because of their rapid gestures. Groups of them can be very animated, all signing at each other at the same time.

They want fuller recognition of BSL. Deaf children should be allowed to use BSL in schools (and presumably teachers would need to learn it) and it should become a part of the curriculum with a GCSE in it.

the deaf are often an ignored group; they don't attract the same sympathy as the blind, and their disability is less obvious than many.
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somerstown is the area to the north of the Euston Rd, near Euston station, tucked away so few notice it. increasingly multiracial, the somerstown festival was intended to celebrate this, and it seemed a lively event.the martial arts show got a little personal with those fists ending a fraction of an inch from my stomach after i made this picture, but i managed to keep smiling.
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half a mile or so to the west, just to the south of the Euston Rd, is the select Fitzroy Square, with its large private garden for residents only. One side of the square is largely expensive offices, but there are still some homes. Culturally their festival was a different class, but lacked the numbers and the liveliness of Somerstown. There was a more austere feel, suitable for a square with a blue plaque to show where Virginia Woolf once lived.

but the kids were still having fun, and those working with them.
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soho has long enjoyed a reputation for fine foods from italian and other continental shops as well as being a center for sex. i was pleased to find an image that combined two of its traditions.

increasingly parts of it are london's gay area too, and for the first time this year, 'soho pride' celebrated this aspect. it started quietly, but as it began to get dark, the streets became charged with clubbers and others out for a good time. i took a few pictures and then came home for a late dinner.
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there doesn't normally seem to be a great deal left of london's 'little italy' in clerkenwell, but when the annual festival takes place, the streets are filled with people speaking italian and waving flags.

groups come from all over this country and from italy to attend. the climax of the procession in honour of Our Lady
of Mount Carmel around the streets is the release of the doves, although this is now rather less elaborate than in former years. This year's doves weren't particularly interested in freedom, and took a few seconds to bother to fly when the box was opened.

the event obviously takes a great deal of organisation and relies heavily on the work of a small number of people who i see every year i attend. for many, the important activities seem to be the eating and the drinking, and with some suprisingly drinkable italian red at a pound for a generous cupful i joined in the celebrations. a pity all the food looked delicious and unsuitable for my diet.
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i spent half the month away from london, in holderness and edinburgh. i guess the pictures from there don't really belong in this london diary, so perhaps they will appear elsewhere.



some of my work gets put into nice organised websites.

this isn't meant to be like that, but you can see some of the rest at

london pictures
londons industrial history

and you can read what I think about photography at


Flags in Guildhall yard, London, July 2

Sign language campaigners call for full recognition for BSL       more pictures

Fingers talk for BSL

Martial arts demonstration at Somerstown festival (above)       more pictures

Fitzroy Sq (above)       more pictures

Soho shopping (above)                 more pictures                     Soho street party (below)

Doves are released in the procession in honour of Our Lady of Carmel, Clerkenwell

more pictures


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