laburnum street party
Tour de France, Woolwich
Hampton Court Flower Show
International Day of Solidarity - John Bowden
No More Deportations to the Congo
Viva Brazil - Streatham Carnival Parade
Greek Cypriots call for Turkish Troops Out
Swan Upping, The Final Year?
International Brigade Commemoration
Procession: Our Lady of Mount Carmel
the annual laburnum street party is now in its fouth year, although i first went to it last year. the event came into being as a part of the local campaign to re-open haggerston pool, which backs on to laburnum street, and was closed without notice in February 2000, when it was decided to be unsafe after years of neglected maintenance by hackney council.
there aren't enough public pools in hackney, and being next to the canal increases the risks if children don't learn to swim. i've been pleased to be able to do a little for the campaign to get the pool open again.
of course it isn't just kids who need and would use the pool. swimming provides healthy exercise for all ages, much more so than other recreational facilities. in an area like this, the pool is an important community facility.
the baths are a listed building - as a swimming bath. the plans, based on a council feasibility study and a people's consultation by the haggerston pool community trust, include doctors and dentists surgeries, a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, gym, creche, gym, dance studios, community kitchen and cafe as well as youth facilities - and of course a 25 meter pool.
a scheme like this, although it would give the pool a viable future, is expensive, and hackney hasn't yet managed to find the £21 million needed. there are other big investments going into south hackney - including the £30 million coming mainly from the dfes (with only around £2 million from the academy's sponsors) to build the bridge academy on the opposite side of laburnum street.
unfortunately, haggerston isn't too likely to benefit from the london 2012 olympics, but is just one of many community-based sports initiatives that is likely to be left out in the cold as the olmypics vacuum up resources and distort priorities for a couple of weeks of prestige sport. however i can hope that hackney will prove me wrong.
the street party, despite the odd shower, was another joyous event, fun for all of those there, however they were taking part in what was happening. it was an event that reflected the rich diversity of the area and i'm only sorry i had to miss parts of it, including the dragon dancers and many of the performances.
what would really be great would be to be able to photograph the grand
reopening party in a few years time. let's hope.
i taught for 26 years, at first full-time but later on a part-time basis
at spelthorne college, in ashford, middlesex. now this is to become a part
of brooklands college, and on saturday i went to an event to mark its passing.
it was a college that did a great deal for its students over the years,
in a way that is now unusual. These pictures are just my quick snaps from
the event and unlikely to be of interest unless you were at spelthorne.
after a time trial around london on saturday, which i missed because i was at college, the tour de france started for real at greenwich on sunday morning, after the cyclists had warmed up a little with a ride from central london.
i decided i'd like to see the real race, and chose woolwich, just a few miles from the start as offering some decent viewpoints and also the background of the thames for at least some of my pictures.
i arrived an hour or so before the riders, and found there were already
people by the roadside sitting and waiting, building up to a fair crowd
by the time the race reached us around 8 minutes after the start. from the
time i first saw the riders in the distance to when the last rider passed
was 28 seconds, so i didn't get a great deal of time to take pictures, although
i soon ran out of space in the 21 raw shot buffer and had then to wiat a
second or so between shots.
back in hyde park, another cycling event, the peoples' village was taking
place, with varous events on a loop of track around the serpentine and the
southern edge of the park. there were also a number of stalls and a giant
screen showing the tour. i ate my sandwiches on the grass watching it, though
just as they sat down the peleton decided it was time for a 'natural break'.
from hyde park i made my way down oxford st to meet paul, and we took the
train to hampton court to take some pictures of people leaving the hampton
court flower show, carrying plants of various colours and sizes.
saturday 14 i photographed a small carnival procession in streatham high
road, making its way down the pavement on the edge of the busy street, part
of the streatham festival.
newham carnival was a much larger affair, with quite a few local schools taking part along with other community groups. the carnival had a largely west indian feel, although there were some indian dancers. of course those taking part reflected the multiracial nature of newham, with over 60% of residents from ethnic groups other than white english, but i would like to see more diversity reflected. we even have an english carnival tradition - and no reason why this, along with irish and other ethnic traditions shouldn't be more evident in events such as this
hackney spice was an event outside the town hall in hackney, next to the
hackney empire. perhaps i was there too early, but it appeared to be getting
off to a rather slow start, and i soon lost interest and caught a bus
as i arrived at coin street, there were a few drops of rain, and apart from eating and drinking (high-priced cheap beer) not a lot was happening. i walked around and then took a walk along the embankment, sheltering under a tree as the rain came on a little harder.
then came the thunderstorm, with perhaps the most tremendous downpour i've ever seen, pouring down through the leaves as if i was in the open. even my umbrella didn't really keep me dry, although it offered some protection. as the rain came, the view disappeared, first the distant view along the river, then the bridge, then i could no longer see the river itself, and trees only perhaps 25 metres away merged into whiteness.
there wasn't a great deal to photograph, and i was more concerned about keeping my cameras dry - fortunately the raincoat built into my lowe-pro camera bag was reasonably effective. as the storm eased slilghtly and visibility returned, still holding up my umbrella, i i took a few pictures, but it was still raining too hard to move much.
then the storm was over, and there were belly dancers on the stage. i don't
think i appreciate the finer points of this art (and appreciate quantity
rather more than quality - after all you can only shake what you have),
but i took a few pictures, but rather more of the folk dancers that followed,
their dances clearly linked to village life and agriculture.
but i'd really come to photograph something connected with a rather different turkish activity, the continued occupation of part of cyprus by the turkish army. i grew up hearing about the war in cyprus, older brothers of friends were there fighting as a part of their compulsory national military service, and don mccullin took some of his first and most striking images of war.
war and partition left both greek and turkish cypriots with justifiable grievances - there were atrocities on both sides, and time seems to have done little to heal. while i sympathise with the greeks who still mourn their lost sons, often disappeared without trace, i also find it hard to understand why the eu went ahead with recognition of cyprus after the greek cypriots voted down the un attempts to reunite the country. greek and turkish cypriots live together with few problems in london - and it is surely time they did so in cyprus too.
the national federation of cypriots march and rally called for turkish troops and settlers who have come since the turkish occupation in 1974 to leave cyprus.
i'd expected the march to start late, and was surprised to see it had already begun as i came across hungerford bridge. it was a larger event than the similar rally i'd photographed a couple of years previously and attracted more photographers.
the organisers for some reason didn't want photographers to cover the rally,
moving us out of the area in front of the platform. it seems odd to say
the least to organise a public event and then not provide proper facilities
for press coverage.
this year was different in several ways. we swan upping because the monarch has a claim to all swans. if you were king in the old days you could make laws to grab stuff like that if you wanted it, because might was right. to dress it up in language that makes it somehow sound decent an legal this kind of snatch was called the royal prerogative.
the government has decided its about time to get rid of some of these outmoded royal powers, and one on their list is owning all the swans. since the dyers and vintners only got their share from the king/queen, then they will lose their swans too, and the queen will no longer need a swan marker or a swan warden.
so if this goes through parliament, there will be no more swan upping. unless some solution can be found which allows it to continue. its a colourful spectacle and the kind of thing that attracts many tourists to england, even if only a miniscule proportion of them ever get to see it live, so there must be a good argument for it to keep on. its also valuable in keeping an eye on environmental issues, with records of swans and the health checks etc that are a part of the event.
one of the traditions already disappeared this year, when the queen's watermen taking part were prohibited alcoholic refreshment during the day. not so long ago, the lunches enjoyed by the uppers were often long and extremely alcoholic, but although navigation might have been slightly impaired, they managed both to have a good time and to do the job. as in other branches of life, things have changed, and convivial working lunches are for most a thing of the past.
an exception was made to the rule at romney lock in windsor, where the men were allowed to drink the usual royal toast, though i imagine some downed their bell's with slightly less favourable thoughts toward the monarch than in previous years.
I would have liked to follow them up river on some of the remaining 4 days
of the upping, but unfortunately i had to go to yorkshire.
i came back in time for the annual commemoration of the international brigade who fought in the spanish civil war, held around the memorial in jubilee gardens close to waterloo station.
among the special guests this year were still a few of those who fought
in spain, this year including the last catalonian fighter. his address made
up in passion for anything it lacked in terms of vocabulary. another guest
was singer billy bragg, who gave us a couple of songs, including a spirited
unaccompanied version of the internationale, which certainly united the
audience, if not the whole human race.
the annual procession in honour of our lady of mount carmel at st peter's italian church in clerkenwell is one of my favourite london events. it's changed relatively little in the years i've known it - though the organisation has improved to some extent - and is thus perhaps less italian.
people - mainly of italian origin - come from all over england to take part, some carrying the statues from the church around the streets, others walking in groups representing their area or various catholic organisations. the floats illustrate biblical scenes with living models.
also in the procession are the young first communicants and other children, and at the end - after the release of doves - the clergy join in, followed by a crowd of the parishoners.
as well as a religious festival, it is also a village fair, with warner st and the bottom end of eyre st lined with stalls, mostly selling food and drink (and the italian wine at a pound a full plastic tumbler was surprisingly drinkable.)
of course there is also ice cream and religious material on sale, along with a lively coconut shy and various other stalls, along with a street crowded with people enjoyoing themselves.
it's fun to be there and fun to take pictures.
although it wasn't in london, this year i managed to get all the way to birmingham for rhubarb rhubar, the uk's international festival of the image.
i greatly enjoyed seeing the work by the 30 or so photographers that i
reviewed there, and much of it was superb. i'll write more about the event
and also feature many of the photographers i met on >re:PHOTO,
so won't write any more here.
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
and you can read what I think about photography at