london diary

march 2005


my london diary

it was with a rather pathetic attempt at winter, with a light coating of snow a a few flakes as i got up. by 10 am it was disappearing and a little light rain soon saw off the rest.
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security was the big debate, taking place as i walked through parliament square and photographed one of the security cameras looking down towards the houses of parliament. a home office study has shown that they have little effect on crime - except in car parks. it's hard to move anywhere in london without being on camera, and the increasing resolution of such devices means a real loss of privacy and a potential for control well beyond the limits imagined by orwell in his '1984'. cctv doesn't make me - or most others - feel safer, just feel more watched.

colchester registered 'mark prior' is the largest vessel regularly working through central london on the thames, bringing sand and gravel to a yard upstream of vauxhall
bridge. a couple of years ago i talked to it's master as i photographed it being unloaded. going back downstream on a high tide the ship is very much higher in the water.
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its 55 years since china took control of tibet, and 46 years since the tibetan national uprising of 10 march 1959, when the dalai lama and over 100,000 tibetans fled for their lives in exile. in tibet, human rights are abused, with over 150 political prisoners who are subject to torture. those outside prison also face ill-treatment and a denial of their human rights.

pressure from international actions - such as the annual tibet day march in london and other activities by the 'free tibet campaign', the 'tibet society' and 'students for a free tibet uk' have led to the release of some political prisoners. with china increasingly becoming an important force in world markets it is important to keep the problem of tibet in the minds of western politicians.

the march ended in whitehall, in king charles st, where tenzin samphel, ex vice-president of the tibetan youth congress and michael trend, conservative mp for windsor, both spoke. trend, one of parliament's less visible men has previously spoken in the house on tibet.
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london's celebration of st patrick's day has grown greatly over the last few years with official recognition from mayor ken livingstone, who walked along with the leaders of the march from hyde park. it's also become a little wider than just an irish affair.

but still at its centre are irish communities from around the country, and keeping up some of the traditions of the old country. one of which is a friendliness which makes it an easy event to photograph.

i find most interest in the older people, many with faces full of character, and also the children, who are continuing to learn traditions through the various irish organisations. at the end of the march i fell in with the wolf tone society, honouring the memory of the nationalist founder of the 'society of united irishmen.' tone was sentenced to death when captured during the 1798 uprising against english rule, but cut his own throat with a penknife rather than be killed by the english, becoming an enduring symbol of the struggle for irish freedom from english tyranny.
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the 'serious organised crime and police bill' bill was being debated in the house of lords as this protest was taking place across the road in parliament square. its a peculiar mix of measures, some of which address serious problems of crime. part of the bill is a measure aimed directly at protestors in parliament square, especially brian haw, whose continuing anti war in iraq protest obviously affronts mr blair, reminding him of his dubious actions.

the bill will seriously restrict any protests in an area around parliament that extends far enough to include that traditional place of english protest, trafalgar square. it will also criminalise many aspects of normal protest anywhere in the country. handing out leaflets or talking to people in the street will be an offence if anyone objects.

existing laws cover the kinds of harassment by animal rights activist which have made press headlines, but they have not been applied, probably because of the difficulty of obtaining evidence. enacting draconian measures that deny our human rights is not the answer.

parliament square has long been unsatisfactory on many counts. it needs to be made more available to the people - both tourists and protestors - and not less. it needs a makeover like trafalgar square has already seen, thanks to the mayor of london, reducing the impact of traffic.

a more sensible government would have long ago seen the possibilities of improving the security of the houses of parliament by altering the road pattern, and with a little clever landscaping could also have improved the square for visitors while allowing peaceful protest to continue.
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hoxton is the graffiti capital of london, and now and again i like to take a look at how it is getting on when i'm in the area. currently it seems to be in decline, with too much organised surface-filling as well as a plethora of random scrawlings, though in a few places these are building into an interesting depth.
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i remember standing in trafalgar square listening to tony benn and tariq ali urging us all to take immediate and radical action should our troops invade iraq. at the time a majority of the british people was clearly against the war, and we should have taken to the streets to stop it. instead stop the war organised marches and peaceful demonstrations the government could easily ignore. and they did.

so the latest in the series of anti-war demos was a sad case of deja-vu from the blinkered dinosaur. not least because again tariq ali (and doubtless tony benn) again urged radical action and again we cheered.

tariq ali has the perfect anarchist hair-style, and it's hard to get a bad picture of him. benn wasn't looking at his best, but there were plenty of others to photograph, including those who had made their stand as soldiers (and a diplomat.) and some very bubbly school students.

stop the war are also tough on the press, or at least tough on photographers. most demonstrations welcome publicity, but they train stewards to get in the way. one colleague was physically prevented from taking pictures at one point in the march, i was obstructed and threatened quite unnecessarily by a couple of stewards, and all of us were generally ordered around and hassled.
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i'm running a one-day workshop on urban landscape photography later in the year, and decided limehouse would be a useful venue. the weather wasn't great today, but as i had to be in town late afternoon i went up earlier to take another look at the area to see what has changed since i was last there.

later i went to meet townly and friends - some i already knew and others i didn't - to celebrate his birthday. we started by climbing up the monument, then made our way to the george inn, finally having a meal together in borough high street. the monument marks the great fire of london, and was completed in 1677. its 311 steps take you to a viewing platform at the top of the world's largest free-standing ionic column, 202 feet high. 300 years ago it would have given an incredible view over the whole of london, and even with so many tall buildings it is still impressive. the square platform at the top is pretty narrow, and was caged in after it became too popular with suicides. you can't tell from these pictures, but the george is also worth a visit.
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the following day i went up the modern equivalent of the monument, the london eye, taking two german boys who were staying with us to see the sights of london. it costs around 6 times as much but there are only a few steps to get in the capsule that carries you up into the sky. the view is a little more impressive, at 450 feet, the eye is the largest ferris wheel in the world, and over twice the height of the monument.

our train journey there was a little fraught. first a disgruntled customer started a one-man protest in the station ticket office, causing this to close briefly; then when our train came in, it stood at the platform with doors firmly closed for around 5 minutes as the guard had lost his key. we had caught up a couple of minutes by richmond, when the announcement came that we were stopping additionally at barnes. once there, we were informed that a lorry had hit a rail bridge at wandsworth and there was no knowing how long we might have to wait before services could proceed, and travellers were advised to continue by the local bus services. since i knew we would never get there that way we stayed put. after 20 minutes the train moved off, travelling at walking speed for around a mile before speeding up a little, reaching waterloo exactly at the time we were supposed to check in. we ran from the station, then took a frustrating few minutes finding the machine to collect our pre-booked tickets. we were a few minutes late on collection but still made the wheel before our booked time.
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good friday i started photographing a brief service at waterloo station, but it wasn't easy to find a good viewpoint. things were a little easier at the larger 'westminster crucifixion' which started with a brief service outside methodist central hall before making its way along victoria street to westminster cathedral. here was a slightly longer stop, including an address by cardinal cormac murphy o'connor.

the large wooden cross was carried by men from the passage centre next to the catholic cathedral, and a collection was taken for the work of this centre. i left the procession there as it turned around to make its way back to westminster abbey for a final service.
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saturday i went up to the south bank and then made my way to camberwell, getting off the bus early to take a walk around. one of the larger council estates from the 1950s and 60s iis in course of redevelopment, and there were quite a few other developments; i couldn't find some of the things i had photographed in earlier years.

in camberwell i met up with other members of 'london arts cafe' to visit the house and studio of artist tom phillips. this was a fascinating experience. after being shown around by two of his assistants we met the man himself briefly. later after we had looked around his peckham studio (and i had been given a hard time on the table-tennis table) we were able to ask him some questions.

leaving the studio, we made our way to the nearby neighbourhood garden, which includes some sculptural works by him and other artists.
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i think every time i've gone to the boat race i've said never again. it was cold and wet and rather miserable, too many people in a small space. at least i only got my feet slightly wet this year as the mob of boats surged along behind the crews sending waves up the slipway. several years ago, along with many other spectators i was marooned by the rapidly incoming tide on a platform on the towpath and had to wade some 50 metres through knee-high freezing muddy water

as i stood waiting for the cambridge crew to emerge with their boat, a woman came up to me and handed me a leaflet. i didn't immediately understand what she was saying, but when i looked at it, suddenly it made sense. the very fine book that was on sale on the table i had walked past a minute or so earlier 'what it takes to earn your place' was by julian andrews, who had been a photography student of mine before going to take the photojournalism course at sheffield college. while at spelthorne he did a project on spitalfields market that told me he would be a success.
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bank holiday we spent with our german visitors again, taking them for a short walk around eton, then leaving them to have a pizza in windsor. it wasn't one of my better days photographically, especially when i forgot and left the shutter at 1/30 when i put the telephoto on. perhaps i should tape the knob to the program setting to stop me trying to be clever.
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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


All pictures on this section of the site are © Peter Marshall 2005;
to buy prints or for permission to reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other questions,

contact me

your comments may be added to the site - or not.
Payment may be waived for acceptable non-profit uses.

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


All pictures on this section of the site are © Peter Marshall 2005;
to but prints or for permission to reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other questions,

contact me

your comments may be added to the site - or not.
Payment may be waived for acceptable non-profit uses.

Windsor & Eton

Bank Holiday Monday

Youth jumping from Railway bridge into the Thames
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The Boat Race

151st Boat Race: Oxford v Cambridge

Cambridge crew prepare to board at Putney
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South Bank, Camberwell and Tom Phillips

Architecture and the artist's studios in Camberwell & Peckham

Tom Phillips in his home in Camberwell with London Arts Cafe members and others.
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Good Friday in London

Waterloo Station and Westminster Crucifixion

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and cross outside Westminster Cathedral.
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London Eye

South Bank, London

The Thames and Houses of Parliament from the London Eye.
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Limehouse and the Monument

And Townly's birthday, London, 20 March, 2005

Canary Wharf from near Westferry station, Limehouse, London.

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Bring the Troops Home

Stop the War March and Rally, Hyde Park-Trafalgar Square, London, 19 March 2005

Tariq Ali addresses the crowd in Trafalgar Square, London
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Graffiti capital of London

Graffitti in Hoxton, London
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Serious organised crime and police bill

Parliament Square, London, March 15, 2005

A major object of the bill is to stop Brian Haw embarrasing Tony Blair over the Iraq war.
Haw addresses the Houses of Parliament.

Tony Benn came to support the protest, speaking forcefully about the dangers it posed for civil liberties.

Churchill's statue in the square and a protestor dressed as a suffragette; our civil liberties are under threat.
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St Patrick's Day March

London 13 March, 2005

An invitation to play Gaelic football, London, 13 March, 2005 (St Patrick's Day is 17 March.)
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Tibet Day

Free Tibet March, London 12 March, 2005

Marchers gather opposite the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place to protest 55 years of Chinese occupation.

On the march to Whitehall protestors call for China to give Tibet back to the Tibetans. London, 12 March 2005.
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Westminster, 10 March

Britain, the most watched country in the world? Security camera and Big Ben, Westminster, London.
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Staines Snow

Staines, Middx, 4 March 2005

The Thames at Staines: a cold declaration of love
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