london diary

June 2006

 

my london diary

june page 1 (1-16 june)


june page 2 (17-30 june)

it was five years to the day that brian haw begin his protest in parliament square, and although there was a party it wasn't entirely a happy occasion. the judge's decision to enter a plea of 'not guilty' for brian cast its shadow over the occasion, showing the intent of the court to ignore the demands of justice. the police clearing of most of the display, making off with the possessions of brian and others in the back of a lorry (there is still no proper list of what they took) including his legal documents make the preparing of a proper defence difficult if not impossible.

obviously politicians, judiciary and police have decided it is time to get rid of brian. not just to evict him, but they are looking to convict him and jail him. by any means necessary, whatever the law. so far the police have lied about various things, the judge has almost certainly acted improperly, and its not at all clear if legal challenges will be met with any degree of fair play. once our establishment has decided to play it rough, justice often goes out of the window.

many of those present have supported brian over the years. they are the faces that have been there again and again when i've turned up to photography in parliament square. some were there when the police came to turn the place over. some have themselves been arrested and probably most threatened with arrest.

if brian gave some of those he thought were gatecrashers fairly short shrift, he was fulsome with his praise and affection for those who supported him over the years. after the candles on the cake were lit (and blown out with great difficulty by the children) he gave a powerful and reasoned speech, which would have come as a revelation to those who have only heard him shouting his indignation - and of course he is right to be indignant - at passing traffic and the institutionally deaf government opposite.

in his speech, brian stressed that his protest had not been a one man affair, but was only possible because of the help from his loyal supporters, many of whom were present at the event. it was a moving speech, well-planned but delivered from the heart, and left a number of us with tears in our eyes.

this was most important message of the day; brian, and his protest, is not a one-man band. it has relied on efforts of a team. whatever happens to brian and his presence in parliament square, it should be taken forward by others.
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harrow councillor thaya idaikkadar today began a five day vigil without food and water in parliament square, supported by other members of the tamil community in the uk.

tamils are horrified by the continuing repression in sri lanka and demonstrated to draw attention to the increasing violence against the tamil populaton and the imminent threat of civil war in that country.

idaikkadar, a british citizen of sri lankan origin, is a diabetic, and the fast could put his health in particular danger. a team of doctors will work in shifts through the vigil to supervise his condition.
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saturday i met with friends from the london arts cafe at noon at the juggler in hoxton, on our way to visit studios and galleries in the area. michael heindorff told us how, given 4 days to quit butlers wharf after the 1979 fire, he got on his bike and cycled north in search of suitable property for a studio, stopping to mend a puncture outside a small furniture factory in shoreditch. the jewish factory owner supplied a bucket of water and sold him the property, as it was no longer possible to make chairs in shoreditch. now michael says making art - or anything that can't be stored on a disk - is becoming impossible, and he is preparing to move out.

sarah medway's studio a few streets away seemed a much more meditative space, very ordered and purposeful compared to the artisanal nature of michael's space (his reminded me of my own father's workspace, filled with tools and cobwebs.) sarah is a colorist and the large areas of empty white space are perhaps important in clearing her mind while she works intensely on the canvas. i left the many galleries in the area for another day, as i had other business.
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later i called in at bonkersfest on camberwell green, billed as one day arts festival celebrating madness, creativity and eccentricity, but everything seemed pretty normal to me.

not far away at st george's field in lambeth, bedlam - the bethlem hospital - found a home when moved from moorfields in 1815 (now the imperial war museum) and it united with the more recently formed maudsley in nearby denmark hill in 1948. whether cause or effect, southwark has more than its share of mental health issues.

perhaps it was the heat of the day and everyone was having a siesta, but not a great deal seemed to be happening. about the most interesting thing i found was a yard sale in the street by the green.
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there is plenty to attract on the streets of camberwell on any day, including madness, creativity and eccentricity, and i took in some of it as i walked back towards kennington.

across the border i contemplated the madness of lambeth council as i walked through the empty space left after the demolition of most of st agnes place. a creative community that had been there since 1969 destroyed, in its place wire fences, grass and a better view of the brandon estate. the rastafarians still have a centre there , though probably not for long, and i stopped for a brief talk, called over as i walked past, and again as i made my way into the park. love and peace, brother.
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early sunday the centre of the real city, around the bank of england is generally pretty empty, but today things were going on. immediately north of the bank a small group of 'old comrades' from the london regiments were preparing to march and lay poppy wreaths at the monument to their fallen comrades in front of the royal exchange. some of those i spoke to had fought in the second world war, though there were also some younger people there. its a remembrance that has taken place twice a year since 1919.

it was a solemn and ceremonial occasion, impressive and colorful, with a well-disciplined smoothness. the monumental architecture of the bank made a good setting, although the area on top of bank station itself is too fussy and cluttered.
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as they marched off, i peeled left in search of 750,000 women, or rather that fraction who were taking part in the central london event. 'race for life' for cancer research uk, is the uk's largest women-only nationwide fund-raising day. there certainly were a lot of them, at times packing even the wider streets full from side to side, making it hard to walk along cornhill.

women of all ages, shapes, sizes, races and speeds running, walking or limping or wheel-chairing around the 5 km course. there were fewer serious runners than i'd expected and less fancy-dress, but the sheer numbers were impressive.
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the sikh remembrance march and freedom rally commemorated the martydom of the fifth guru, sri guru arjan dev ji 400 years ago, as well as the events of 1984.

guru arjan dev ji compiled the first version of the sikh holy book, the guru granth sahib, in 1604, writing many of the hymns within it. he was arrested in lahore in 1606 on the orders of mogul emperor jehangir, tortured for 5 days and martyred on the banks of the river riva.

during the annual celebration of the death of sri guru arjan dev ji in 1984, indira ghandi sent her troops to attack sikh militants in the golden temple at amritsar. many innocent pilgrims - men, women and children - were killed in the brutal assault. thousands more died around the punjab, particularly in the riots incited by government tv and radio stations after the october assassination of indira ghandi by her sikh bodyguards.

punjabi speakers at the rally in hyde park described the events of 1984. the marchers demanded an acknowledgment of the indian genocide of sikhs, the release of sikh political prisoners held in indian jails, and for the establishment of an independent secular state of khalistan in the punjab.

after the speeches came prayers, and then the march set off for trafalgar square and another rally. this was a serious event, with stongly felt greivances, and an impressive display of sikh tradition and feelings.

the marchers were pleased to find photographers taking an interest in their cause, with many of them encouraging me and thanking me for my presence. some had heard of this web site too.
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until we were close to hyde park corner, the police were helpful and in good humour too, but then along came across one of the rotten apples, someone who just wanted to push the photographers around. he came and told me to get off the road, as i was stopping the demonstration. this was clearly absolute nonsense, and i tried to tell him, but reason held no interest for him.

other photographers got harassed too. you can see one of them in my picture. we are accused of holding up the march, generally nonsense as most of us want to capture action in our images, and if people even slow down, will wave them on.

of course it's those at the actual front of the march who would have any effect on its progress. further back where we were working, small gaps develop and are closed up all the time without affecting the overall progress.

i have respect for the police - some at least of their work is essential, but this kind of petty and stupid behaviour simply makes their job harder for no reason.

it also makes the work of photographers impossible. i can't work unless i can stand in the right place to take pictures, and that is seldom on the sidelines. at the highest level, the police realise this, its about time they got some of the little dictators in the middle to put it into practice.

of course the policing of many marches is over the top. there were probably ten times the number needed for this event, which was predictably well ordered, good natured and essentially self-policing. traffic control was really all that was required. perhaps harassing photographers makes these surplus guys on overtime think they have a purpose.

twenty minutes later, along with several of the other photographers, i was on my third warning from this guy and he was getting redder and more and more tense. i was interested in how the situation might develop, but i was also tired and it was time for me to go elsewhere.

saturday 10 was the day for what was billed as the big sexy festy party in finsbury park. this was a fund-raising festival for the charity crisis, but there weren't many people there early on when i went, perhaps because there was also some football match taking place.

still, it was pleasant sitting in the shade and eating some lunch while listening to some music, and i would have liked to stay longer. i hope it filled up more after the end of the match, but i had to be elsewhere.
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and elsewhere was hyde park corner. people in over 50 cities around the world were taking place in the world naked bike ride as a protest against oil dependency and car culture. in london. over 600 cyclists, along with a few rollerskaters, rollerbladers and others took part

as a change, i congratulate the met police for allowing the event (unlike the brighton cops.) police cyclists - looking rather over-dressed in their usual uniform - led the event in its ride around some of the busiest streets in central london, and kept riders safe from traffic. most of them seemed to be amused by the event.

so too were the crowds in central london. many obviously found it hard to believe the evidence of their eyes, but all I saw seemed amused and none offended. riders handed out a leaflet explaining the purpose of the event and advising "if you don't wish to see nudity, please avert your gaze - we'll soon be out of sight," but I didn't see anyone following this advice. indeed it looked like the event should attract even more tourists to the city.

i don't have a great problem with nudity. i was brought up told we were created in the image of our maker, so feel it would be blasphemous to object about the display of the naked body, although generally we may find it more prudent to keep it covered, especially in our climate. as my pictures show, not all those taking part rode entirely naked: the invitation was to ride "as bare as you dare!"

photographing an event like this could be awkward, but i recognised many of those taking part and they knew me. there were a few conditions, but only one person out of the several hundred made it clear she didn't want me to take a picture, and of course i didn't.

it was an afternoon when it was more comfortable to be without clothes than in them (so long as you had plenty of sun-screen) and it certainly made an interesting spectacle. i had chosen not to ride a bike, and just pretended to be one as I ran up piccadilly fully dressed with the mass of cyclists. by the time we got to the top of haymarket I was pretty much whacked, and continued by tube to waterloo to meet the ride as it came up york road and get a different viewpoint.

there are many pictures i took that i've decided for various reasons not to put on this web site, which is open to all. although i don't find any of them offensive, they might offend others, including my isp, and also could attract too many viewers. however i know that some of those who took part will want to see themselves and others. so just e-mail me with a request and i'll send a zip file of selected pictures. there are 3 zips, one from before the start, the second showing the ride leaving from the arch at hyde park corner and going to haymarket, and the third overhead views on york road. each is about 1.75mb and has just under 30 pictures - please tell me which you want.

the images on these pages have been carefully selected to avoid offence, but again you don't need to look if you think you might be offended.
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last sunday the 'news of the world' bragged about how a team of its staff had made fake offers of work to migrants, picking on the weakest and most exploited people living here with us. they had then picked them up in a bus and taken them without their consent to the colnbrook detention centre, where they were handed over to immigration officers and detained.

i hope their actions will be condemned by my union (the nuj) as a disgrace to journalism, and endangering relations between genuine reporters and migrants. such deception should not be tolerated by anyone, and the would seem to amount to kidnapping.

all of us should be appalled that this was allowed to happen - and that apparently the authorities connived in it rather than turning the buses away as they should have done.

colnbrook detainees made their feelings about the person who organised the scam clear "you are a gutless, incompetent, bully," and pointed out that it was such "unfair ill-informed reporting" that was responsible for the adoption of inhuman policies that led to migrants not claiming asylum and hiding from the authorities, which left them open to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, with long hours, low pay and poor and dangerous working conditions.
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a crowd of several hundred demonstrators, mainly muslim, gathered outside new scotland sard on sunday afternoon, 11 June, 2006 to voice their disquiet at the June 2 raid in forest gate.

speakers from across the muslim community as well as respect mp george galloway and lindsey lerman of 'stop the war' expressed their misgivings at the heavy-handed approach of the police and the targeting of muslims. there were calls for the resignation of the metropolitan police chief, sir ian blair. many also called for tony blair to go.

certainly there should be some rapid re-thinking of how (and why) any further such raids are carried out. i'd always assumed that when the police kicked down my front door at 4 am they would at least shout out something like 'police - get on the floor' as they stormed in rather than leave me to think they were an armed criminal gang. and while i might expect them to restrain me, shooting me or and kicking me in the head without very good reason surely should result in a criminal conviction? a rather grudging apology dragged out over a week after the event isn't good enough. of course there are enquiries going on, but the police have to show some sensitivity.

several speakers made the point that 'police intelligence' was in almost all respects woefully lacking. all of us are put at danger - as last year's london bombings showed - because police waste time and resources on false rumours such as those behind this raid. one speaker went through a long, long list of such happenings around the country, including some the police still persist in believing despite having cases thrown out by the courts.

the event attracted major media attention; it was hard to get an accurate estimate of the number of demonstrators because there were so many reporters and photographers etc present. along with a core of 250, representing the number of police involved in the raid, there were probably a hundred or more others.
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brian haw - five years in parliament square

Parliament Square, Friday 2 June, 2006
Brian Haw,5 years Parliament Square © 2006, Peter Marshall
Brian Haw - and his famous hat
Brian Haw,5 years Parliament Square © 2006, Peter Marshall The cake calls for Peace and Justice. Bian with some of his supporters watch the candles burn.
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Tamil Councillor on Five Day Fast

Parliament Square, Friday 2 June, 2006
Tamils protest © 2006, Peter Marshall Tamil men and women mounted a protest supporting Councillor Idaikkadar, Parliament Square, London.
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London Arts Cafe

Studio Visits: Michael Heindorff and Sarah Medway
London Arts Cafe visit © 2006, Peter Marshall

Michael Heindorff's Shoreditch Studio
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BonkersFest?

Camberwell Green, London Saturday 3 June, 2006Bonkersfest? © 2006, Peter Marshall
Not a lot seemed to be happening so I got fed up and went for a walk

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Camberwell and Kennington

London, 3 June, 2006
Camberwell/Kennington © 2006, Peter Marshall
Street signs and more

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London Old Comrades

Bank of England, London 4 June, 2006.
London Old Comrades © 2006, Peter Marshall The old comrades marched behind a band to remember their old comrades.
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Race For Life, London

City, Sunday June 4, 2006
Race for Life © 2006, Peter Marshall
Towards the end of the event, when the numbers had thinned out a bit, London Wall was still fairly full.
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Sikh Remembrance March and Freedom Rally

Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, London. Sunday 4 June, 2006
Sikh Remembrance March © 2006, Peter Marshall
The march set off from Hyde Park, led by five men representing the original Panj Piare (Five Beloved Ones.)
Sikh Remembrance March © 2006, Peter Marshall
The rally in Hyde Park before the march.
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Sikh Remembrance March © 2006, Peter Marshall
Police harrass a photographer trying to do his job. I and other photographers got the same treatment.

 

Big Sexy Festy Party

Finsbury Park, London, Sat 10 June, 2006

Big Sexy Festy Party. © 2006, Peter Marshall

The event was held to raise funds for the charity Crisis.
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World Naked Bike Ride - London

Hyde Park Corner - Picadilly - Waterloo. Sat 10 June, 2006
World Naked Bike Ride London. © 2006, Peter Marshall
An England supporter prepares for the ride at Hyde Park Corner.

World Naked Bike Ride London © 2006, Peter Marshall
The ride comes up York Road, around halfway round its circuit of central London.
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No Borders Protest at Wapping

News of the World, Wapping. Sunday 11 June. 2006
No Borders protest at Wapping © 2006, Peter Marshall Demonstrators outside the gate to Fortress Wapping.
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Rally For Justice - Forest Gate Raid

New Scotland Yard, London 11 June, 2006
Rally for Justice - Forest Gate Raid © 2006, Peter Marshall
'Intelligence or Negligence - That is the Question!' read some of the placards. 
Rally for Justice - Forest Gate Raid © 2006, Peter Marshall
George Galloway speaks to reporters

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