my london diary

nov 2003

the stop the war coalition organised a stop bush march in london against the visit here by george bush on 20 nov.

i was with the 300,000 or so who started the march from malet street, but unfortunately was only able to cover the start of the march.
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i started the month with a rather more varied day on 1 nov. in trafalgar square, campaigners against the use of land mines had built a tall pile of shoes. it's hard to think of our country as civilised when we look at our record on arms sales and use.

then, along in waterloo place was a chance to see some of the cars and owners who were to take part in the london to brighton veteran car rally the following day. it's hard not to find these relics of a more innocent age fascinating, despite what we now realise about the environmental disasters that the car has caused, and the increasing challenge a car-centred lifestyle is making to the future of civilisation.

strolling across london back towards waterloo, there were some dramatic views of the skyline, such as this shot of the london eye and horse guards parade.

i wandered on to vauxhall with some dramatic river views, and to st agnes place, for many years a centre for alternative cultures, and the oldest squatted street in London, now threatened by eviction by lambeth council.
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sunday i stayed near home in staines, biking along some of our local footpaths, although the noise from the M25 and M4 as well as plane after plane from heathrow make it less pleasant.

the smell of petrol and exhausts is sometimes almost overwhelming. the area is one of the most polluted in the uk, and the only good news to come from this is that european restrictions on further pollution may prevent the building of a third runway at london heathrow. it's surely time the debate moved on to getting rid of the other two rather than the crazy ideas about expansion.
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i finally went to konica in feltham to take my hexar rangefinder in for repair - the shutter went on me when i was in paris in august. coming home i stopped off in the centre of feltham, mainly to watch the xmas decorations going up. last time i photographed in feltham i just managed to interrupt on of the local kids who was attempting to steal some of my gear. its the kind of place it pays to keep everything locked.
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later in the week i took my brompton on the train and then for a ride up the lea valley from tottenham hale to broxbourne and back, on a very roundabout route.

the lea valley used to be one of the major industrial areas of london, and traces of this still remain, which adds to its fascination for me. the autumn colours are also quite spectacular. i used to lock away the colour film and only shoot in black and white at this time of year, but i'm getting a bit less purist as i grow older.

the lea is part of my work on the edge lands - areas at the edge of the city, often derelict and full of interest. i began to photograph in around 20 years ago.
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i'm never sure i want to photograph the lord mayor's show either. it's a reminder of the power of money and the privilege it gives. the city almost certainly has more control over the future of this country than the government, and it is control that is in the hands of a few people. some of them get to be lord mayor, though others prefer to stay in the background. however, its a big london event, and one that many ordinary people come up to enjoy.

another thing i dislike about it is that there is so much military involvement in it, although there are also more appealing groups, including a clog-wearing squad of dutch musical cyclists.

the proceedings end with a firework show over the thames, which i watched on my way back to waterloo.
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sorry, but this is knowle green, a bit of staines moor, taken with my pocket camera while i was waiting for the chemist to come up with the goods.
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more on the lea, from some way outside london, but connected. the new river which was made around 400 years ago still brings water to the city, and starts at the lea between ware and hertford.
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london by night - some pictures taken in the afternoon as it was beginning to get dark, then later on as i was waiting to go to a couple of openings.

digital is great for working at night, the quality at high iso settings is unbeleivable, and then you can improve it using anti-noise software.

none of these used a tripod, though i did hold the camera agains walls etc for the real night shots here.

one of the most disappointing redevelopments of recent years is paternoster square, next to st pauls.

the luftwaffe lit the fires that cleared the area, and in the 50s it was filled with bleak windswept concrete. later prince charlie and others bleated about this poor quality setting for wren's masterpiece.

so finally we get a replacement. bland, lacking in ideas, lacking even the committment of the work it replaced. we need to start another campaign to redevelop paternoster sq.
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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 site are © Peter Marshall 2002;
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Horse Guards Parade and London Eye    
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Next to the M25, near Staines     more pictures

Feltham     more pictures

Lea Valley     more pictures

Lord Mayor's Show, London     more pictures

Staines     more pictures

Lea Valley: Ware     more pictures

London Wall, London     more pictures

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