london diary

june 2007

 

my london diary

june main stories

 

in pictures

bonkersfest, camberwell
the world can't wait (g8)
brian haw - six years of protest
sikh federation march
end occupation in palestine
200 years of orange marches
2007 world naked bike ride
stokefest, stoke newington
blockorama, dalston
stop the war - oval
march of the human rights jukebox
burgess park cyclists
marylebone summer fayre
korean festival, trafalgar square
west london greenfest
olympic lockdown
canning town, victoria dock, silvertown west
pride parade 2007
climate change rally

comment

i felt rather sorry for the poor guy who got shut into the bottom of the cannon at bonkersfest on camberwell green for the duration of joe brand's opening speech, then defeaned by the cannon going off. all to through bananas out through the mouth of the giant gun, the first of which came as rather a surprise when it hit me on the head. i ate it later.

bonkersfest has a more serious purpose, to make problems of mental health more visible and to rehabilitate offensive terms used about those with problems. jo brand was once a psychiatric nurse.
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from camberwell i caught a couple of buses to take me to archbishop's park in lambeth, where supporters of the many organisations united in the anti-poverty campaign to send the message 'the world can't wait' to government leaders about to meet for the g8 talks in germany.

from the park, supporters made their way down to the banks of the river thames, stretching along both sides of the river (except for the length of the houses of parliament themselves) between westminster and lambeth bridges, as well as on the bridges themselves. it took rather a long time to assemble everyone for the several minutes of silence, after which there was much blowing of whistles, shouting and honking of horns.
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i strolled down to parliament square where a rather longer demonstration was still in progress. today marked exactly 6 years since brian haw began his protest against the killing of children in iraq (and later about the war more generally.)

that's 6 years of shame for britain for supporting (and taking part in) the killing. six years of police harassment. six years of pressure by the government, including a whole section of an act of parliament designed to stop his and other protests. six years of shame for the new labour government.

although there were no police around at all during the couple of hours i was in the square, brian told me that had been there this morning at 4 am, watching and taking no action as a group of hooligans attempted to provoke the peace camp protesters into retaliation. waiting for it, to arrest not the hooligans but the peaceful protestors should they rise to the bait.
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sunday, sikhs from across britain came to hyde park for the annual march organised by the sikh federation to remember the severe damage inflicted by heavy artillery, tanks, and helicopters and the massacre of sikh civilians by indian government forces during the attack on the golden temple in amritsar in 1984.

the sikhs demand an independent state of khalistan, which would incorporate the current indian and pakistani states of punjab as well as some nearby areas.

after the speeches, the sikhs marched off to trafalgar square, led by five pure khalsa. behind them were perhaps ten thousand sikhs, making a long and colourful procession.

it was a hot afternoon, and unlike most of those in the march i'd been working in the sun while most of them had the sense to rest under the trees. so i left the march at hyde park corner and went home.
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three major events took to the streets of london on saturday 9 june. by far the largest in terms of numbers was the march and rally calling for an end to the illegal israeli occupation of palestinian lands, part of an international day of action marking the 40th anniversary of the six day war. mustafa barghouti, the palestinian minister of information and anglican bishop riah abu el assal came from palestine, but two other members of the palestinian government invited to speak are in jail in israel.

the 1967 middle east war ended in complete and massive militiary victory for israel, and a shameful defeat for not just the arab nations but also the un and the rest of the world. in the longer term it is proving a disaster for israel too, chaining them to a policy of brutal oppression of their palestinian neighbours. it's hard to understand from britain just how deeply the occupation has affected the lives of ordinary palestinians - our media tell us relatively little. over the past few months, reading and hearing eye-witness reports of life in the occupied areas have shocked me, just as the reports from south africa under apartheid did. and just as in south africa, in time these things must come to an end with peace and reconciliation. war doesn't settle things, it just prolongs the agonies.

i don't know how many people were on the march, or joined the rally in trafalgar square - i went elsewhere. but it was certainly by far the best attended of the three events.
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the grand lodge 200th anniversary parade in central london marked 200 years since the first recorded orange parade by the portadown lodge of the orange order, loyal orange lodge no. 1 (lol 1), on 1 march 1807. king william iii, prince of orange, who succesfully invaded england in 1688, landing in brixham, and the first orange association was founded a few days later when he reached exeter.

it was an impressive display, with several thousand marchers, mainly from protestant working-class areas of our major cities, and in some ways close to my own protestant roots, but such sectarian solidarity now seems a relic of ancient emnities, a throwback to a less civilised age.
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just across the road in the 'meadow' of hyde park, naked or near-naked environmental protesters were massing for the London event in the world naked bike ride, 2007, one of around 65 such rides in over 15 countries around the world aiming "to put a stop to the indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create", dress code "as bare as you dare."

unfortunately the orange order had run late, and i arrived more or less as the riders were ready for the off (and most of them had taken most things off.) so i remained fully dressed as i photographed them leaving the park, turning to the tube as they cycled off down picadilly, and then waiting for them to reach the houses of parliament at westminster.

although the protest turns the head of many shoppers and tourists, it perhaps fails in getting its message across. this year, the ride seemed to me going much faster than last year, and too fast for leaflets to be handed out. (last year i started at the end of the ride as it left hyde park corner and overtook most of the riders at a relatively slow amble past the ritz to picadilly circus; this year i was exhausted by a short sprint from westminster to waterloo to keep ahead - and if anything i'm fitter now.) although a few cyclists had slogans painted on their bodies or placards or flags on their bikes, most were simply bare - or simply decorated.

the nude ride had the approval of the met police, and was shepherded by some of their cyclists, although these remained fully dressed. nudity itself is apparently not a crime in england. the event did surprise and amuse many on the street - one lady standing beside me as i photographed told her friend that of course it was nothing they hadn't seen before, but like me they both stayed to watch as the roughly one thousand riders passed.

here in the uk we still have very odd reactions to flesh. this week our local newspaper reported a local art shop being warned by the police about the display of rather boring nude photographs in his shop window, while only a few yards away, considerably more provocative images appear in the windows of clothing shops or on advertising hoardings. on this site there are only a few of the images from the ride that i can display for fear of causing offence (personally i may often be amused at god's creation, but see taking offence as a curious blasphemy.)

the london ride also has what it calls a 'photography policy' that has caused a considerable controversy, and i'll write about it later on >re:photo. i looked long and hard for any of the so-called "photo policy enforcement boards" with the message "this photo was taken without permission", but to my disappointment failed to spot a single one. last year i photographed many individuals on the ride (including quite a few i knew from other, clothed, events), and only one person declined to have a picture taken. quite a few have written to ask for a larger file of their picture to print.

no prizes for guessing which of these three events made the national news i heard late that evening. the london world naked bike may have been the smallest and least focussed of these events, but it was the only one that grabbed the attention of the media.
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this weekend also saw the reopening of the royal festival hall after a lengthy refurbishment. the foyers are now much more open, and the shops are now on a line at ground level in front of the building and another along the side of the railway viaduct.
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church street, stoke newington in the 1990s was home to a great midsummer fair when the whole street was closed to traffic and jammed with people and things happening. some of the finest musicians around performed on the street, particular flowing out from the vortex jazz bar, now just a gap in the street. and if you got too hot or needed a rest from the crowds, there was the pictureque overgrown abney park cemetery in which to find shade and rest.

since 2003, stokefest in clissold park has replaced the midsummer fair, but tents in the park just don't provide the same buzz, despite an impressive programme. but the day still started in church street, with a parade along its length ending in the park. afterwards i wandered round the festival, took a few pictures, listened to a little music, particularly local group morning bride (their first gig was a shop opening in church street in 2004) but soon left.
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down in dalston, in gillett square, the new home of the vortex, we were in trinidad as six steel bands including players of all ages played for the blockorama trophy, along with some great carnival dancers from 'tropical isles' (from stoke newington church street) on a hot sultry summer afternoon.
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i joined the 'human rights jukebox' in its progress from the camberwell magistrates court to peckham on saturday 1. an event in the camberwell arts week, the 'march of the human rights jukebox' was organised by isa suarez, who had a one-year artists residency in southwark in 2006. the juke box included thoughts on people's rights from many residents and diverse groups in southwark, some of whom marched with banners along with it.

at the start of the event, the dulwich choral society performed a specially composed piece by suarez, using words from the 'jukebox'. on clerkenwell green we stopped for a impassioned recital (in french) by a black african poet, and in front of the old baths in artichoke place (now the leisure centre) there was a long performance by deadbeat international as well as a short song by three musicians that left us wanting more. deadbeat international also performed at various other points on route, including another energetic set at peckham library. the march was led into peckham by a rapper, with some forthright views on human rights.

accompanying the jukebox were the live art group 'mmmmmm', adrian fisher & luna montengro, covered from head to foot in sheets of paper containing the complete text of the un universal declaration of human rights, in both english and spanish as well as the pages of a world atlas.

in front of the library at peckham, mmmmm completed the event by unpinning the sheets from each other one by one, reading the clauses and feeding the sheets into a shredder (and when this gave up, tearing them up.) each then poured cold water over the other and threw the shredded papers, so that they stuck to the wet clothes and skin. finally we were all invited (in what we were informed was an argentine custom) to jump once into the air for each of the 30 clauses of the declaration.
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on the way to the event, i'd jumped off the bus at the oval, where 'stop the war' and other demonstrators were protesting. gordon brown was apparently expected to arrive at 12.00 to watch some kind of game there. it was a very different kind of action to the 'jukebox' though both were political and art in their different ways, although only one gets arts council funding.
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also dropping in at peckham library were a group of young cyclists from the go-kart track in nearby burgess park. they were a lively crew and everyone seemed to want to be photographed.
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marylebone high street is one of those parts of london i never feel at home in. too many shops catering for those with more money than sense. and the fair on sunday was rather like that too. you could buy trendy overpriced food at myriad stalls, along with overpriced jewellry, overpriced and largely impractical clothing and more.

i did enjoy the greek dancing, and a few other things caught my eye. there was some interesting-looking food, including some good fruit and veg (some of the stalls from the normal farmers market were there) but the prices. before i left home i'd picked a couple of pounds of strawberries for tea, and i could have bought some in little pots, rather less fresh, for a pound for hardly a mouthful.

people did seem to be enjoying themselves, pushing through the crowds in the narrow path around the churchyard and on the less crowded streets, but i didn't manage to suspend my gloom. watching the fashion show didn't help, but then i generally prefer the real thing to models.
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the korean festival in trafalgar square was a little weird. of course quite a few koreans in evidence, and the martial arts display i saw was impressive at times, though i arrived too late to get a good position.

but then on stage came a break-dancing competition, which appeared to have little connection to korea, though many of the koreans appeared to appreciate it.
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i decided to go on to the greenfest at hammersmith, which turned out to be a little more interesting, though hardly exciting to photograph.
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the main olympic site, covered by the compulsory purchase order, will be inaccessible to the public from june 2, with all, roads in the area, including carpenters road, waterden road and marshgate lane blocked, along with the footpaths.

the 'greenway' is supposed to be an exception, along with the lea navigation towpath, but these too can be expected to be blocked at times.

at the moment, there is no access to the greenway between wick lane and the railway at marshgate lane, and teams of men are at work burning rubbish and erecting fences. much waste ground has already been fenced off and partially cleared.

i enjoyed a last walk alongside the waterworks river, although the path was so overgrown i gave up a few hundred yards before reaching the northern end. the shoulder-high vegetation growing over the path was difficult to walk through as there were brambles hidden among it.

among the weeds growing alongside the path was a patch of and several spreads of japanese knotweed. both are now common weeds in london, and the knotweed in particular seems virtually impossible to eradicate. there are herbicides that will shrivel it (as well as any other vegetation in site) but it will return the following spring.

apparently the olympic budget incudes a huge sum for its removal. but i think it almost certain that it will still be bursting its way through the concrete of the olympic stadium in 2012.

all around the site the fence is going up, tall and blue. currently major part of the greenway through the site is closed, despite the committment made to keep it open so far as possible. as expected this seems to me as far as convenient.

apparently a few exceptions have been made to the general public exclusion. a few allotment holders will be allowed limited access to gather crops from manor gardens, although it isn't quite clear how and when, until the move to the marsh lane site is complete, and there are still a few clays lane residents waiting for rehousing.

it also isn't quite certain that the travellers will be able to be moved out by the july 2 deadline. but the rest of us need to pay our last respects to the area now. it will never be the same again.
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on midsummer day i took a walk up primrose hill and then around south kensington were there was a special music day taking place. unfortunately there wasn't a great deal of evidence of anything happening on the streets although it was lunchtime and there were a lot of people about, and it seemed a real missed opportunity. there were some performances inside museums etc i didn't bother to try to photograph.
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on sunday i led a walk around canning town and west silvertown for london arts cafe, an organisation devoted to "viewing, expressing and discovering all forms of urban art". there was much to look at, including public art, relics of the docks and the new developments that make this one of the largest of current regeneration areas.

you can read my notes on the area, including its history and future plans, with directions for the Canning Town etc walk (very short, with two or three trips on the dlr) on the london arts cafe site. here i'll post rather more of the pictures from both the final planning trip i made on 21 june and a few on the walk itself - when i was mainly too busy to use a camera.
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it rained on and off on the 30th, dampening down the spirits of those at the gay pride parade a little, particularly the photographers. much of the parade seemed to be the same as last year and i was beginning to wonder if i should have stayed at home until i found the 'bird club', celebrating gay women who still want to look feminine.
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i arrived at parliament square with camera still dripping from photographing pride to attend the climate change rally there, meant as a reminder to gordon brown that climate change remains the major challenge facing the world - and the new government.

if you ain't got a planet, you ain't in business is the simple message, though some of the speakers had some rather more complex graphs and charts. blair and brown were only there in effigy, but we did have a rather more convincing mermaid to warn about the dangers of rising sea levels.
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Bonkersfest

Camberwell Green, Saturday 2 June, 2007
Jo Brand, Bonkersfest  © 2007, Peter Marshall
 
© 2007, Peter Marshall
One of those bananas landed on my head

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The World Can't Wait: Anti-Poverty

London, Saturday 2 June, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Worcester sends a message to Governments for the G8 summit
© 2007, Peter Marshall
On Lambeth Bridge  
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Brian Haw: 6 Years in Parliament Square

Parliament Square, London, 2 June, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Many friends came to give Brian messages of support.

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Sikhs Remember 1984, call for Sikh state

Hyde Park, London. Sunday 3 June, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Sikhs begin the march from Hyde Park, London
 

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End the occupation - Palestine

London, 9 June, 2007
End the Occupation © 2007, Peter Marshall
The Palestinian minister greets others at the start of the march
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Orange Order celebrates 200 Years of Parades

Park Lane, London. June 9, 2007
Orange Lodges March © 2007, Peter Marshall
Protestant Loyalists remember William of Orange.
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World Naked Bike Ride, London 2007

Hyde Park, Westminster, Waterloo. June 9, 2007
WNBR © 2007, Peter Marshall
Police riders accompany the naked bike ride around London, looking rather overdressed.
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London's Royal Festival Hall Reopens

Overture, South Bank, London. 9 June, 2007
RFH © 2007, Peter MarshallThe refurbished Festival Hall still looks a splendid modern building
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StokeFest - Opening Procession

Stoke Newington Church Street, London. June 10, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
The samba band leads the procession along Stoke Newington Church Street
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Blockorama

Gillett Square, Dalston, Hackney, London. June 10, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Tropical Isles dancers in Gillett Square
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Stop The War Demo

Oval, Kennington. Saturday 16 June, 2006
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Demonstrators outside the Oval cricket ground in Kennington.
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March of the Human Rights Jukebox

Camberwell to Peckham, Saturday 16 June, 2007

© 2007, Peter Marshall
The Juke box gets to Camberwell Green, pushed by mmmmm 

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Burgess Park Cyclists

Peckham Library, Saturday 16 June, 2007
march of the human rights jukebox
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Marylebone Summer Fair

Marylebone High St, Sunday 17 June, 2007
Marylebone Summer Fair © 2007, Peter Marshall
Greek dancers
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Dano Korean Summer Festival

Trafalgar Square, Sunday 17 June, 2007
Dano Korean Summer Festival © 2007, Peter Marshall
The square wasn't particularly full, and people were watching a TV screen.
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West London GreenFest

Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith Sunday 17 June, 2007
West London GreenFest © 2007, Peter Marshall
Dancing to 3 Daft Monkeys
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Olympic Site, Stratford - Lockdown starts

Stratford, London, 21 June, 2007
Olympic site © 2007, Peter Marshall
Workmen put up the fence around the Olympic site - inside view in Marshgate Lane by the currently closed Greenway.
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Canning Town, Victoria Dock Walk & West Silvertown

London Arts Cafe Walk. Thursday 21 & Sunday 24 June, 2007
© 2007, Peter Marshall
Millennium Mills and Eastern Quay from the Victoria Dock bridge.
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Street Photography with the M8

London, 28 July, 2007

Regent St © 2007, Peter MarshallReally I was just trying out the M8 to see how it went. 24mm Voigtlander lens.
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London Pride Parade

Baker Street, 30 June, 2007
Pride Parade, London © 2007, Peter Marshall
'Bird Pride' was a new section for 2007 - Femme invisibility, so last year.
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Climate Change Rally

Parliament Square, Saturday July 30, 2007
Climate Change Rally © 2007, Peter Marshall
Heed the mermaid's warning of rising sea levels caused by global warming could get this high by 2012!
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