london diary

September 2004


my london diary

september seems like the end of summer, but started with some of the best weather we've had this year, so i felt like a bike ride. i'm still waiting for the bridle path from staines to west drayton to open, so it started with the normal dusty trek up past the edge of the airport. a skeletal t5 (or are they building t6 or t7 as well looms immense and threatening over the surrounding countryside, but there are no decent views past the fences and screening trees. i push on up to harefield at speed before descending to the canal, only to find that i've picked the one bit of towpath that is actually closed for repair work.

so i take some other footpaths, and don't so much get lost as overcome with uncertainty as one of these disappears in the middle of a gravel site. i give up and take to the main road, soon to discover it's a mistake. eventually i get back to the canal and cycle back along the towpath all the way to west drayton to curse again the barred bridle path and the busy traffic and bicycle hostile road engineering - now in the rush hour - past the airport.
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After the initial militiary victory in iraq, the american government were determined that their friends would profit from the situation. lucrative contracts went largely to us companies that just happened to have friends and beneficiaries in the top level in the usa. capitalism is always a winner from wars, with arms suppliers laughing all the way to the bank, but this extended the gravy train rather more widely and rather too obviously. bush's cronies sell the arms that knock the infrastructure to pieces, then get high margin contracts to rebuild.

the iraq war fat cat tour of london aimed to visit some key sites to point out the profiteering from the occupation of iraq. it started at the shell centre (westen oil companies look set to make $2.5 trillion from iraqi oil over the next 50 years), then made its way across the new hungerford bridge to the cavell statue at the north east of trafalgar square (where i left it) and continuing to some other key sites.

there was singing from the strawberry theives socialist choir (the name a reference to a william morris wallpaper design), who thoughtfully provided the words for the internationale in case any of us had momentarily forgotten them, (arise! ye starvelings from your slumbers, arise! ye criminals of want... )samba playing from rhythms of resistance, and a couple of street theatre groups.
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the tour of britain has so far lacked the public interest of the tour de france, but a last day involving a road race around a mile course through whitehall shoud have given it a boost. i only stayed for the warm-up event with club cyclists competing on the same course. the crowding and the pace made for some excitement, but for an outsider i think there needed to be some way to make individuals more recognisable in the crowd.
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up at the angel, it was the 19th annual canal festival, with singers and other performers, boat trips, decorated boats and various stalls along the towpath. it really did seem to be a very pleasant event for a sunny summer sunday with everyone enjoying themselves. up on the street people were sitting around the pub and being entertained, first by a three piece band, apparently of cockney persuasion with a little dixie thrown in, then by some morris men.
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the attraction that dragged me away was the promise of belly-dancing in walthamstow. walthamstow has of course a william morris connection (and an occasionally open museum) but there were no discernable signs of this. the first event that drew my interest was however a women's morris performing in the high street.

belly-dancing is one of those things i always wonder if there is more too it than the obvious attraction. and i was obviously attracted, though it's hard to think of any way to photograph it other than the obvious. the display involved two solo performers of very different frame. if you don't have much to wobble, the movements can be much more controlled, but to this male eye are considerable less provocative.
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i've never photographed a flower show before, and went to one in the city largely because i've never been inside the guildhall before, although it is some years since its rebuilding after the blitz was completed (fortunately the bombs and fire largely destroyed the later additions and reconstructions and left most of t the medieval parts. i went with paul baldesare, who has made flower shows his more or less as garry winogrand annexed the fort worth livestock show, but i didn't feel it was my kind of thing. Very little hands-on.
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it was a nice afternoon, so i jumped up from lunch put the brompton on the train to richmond and then pottered around kew, ending up going through north sheen to richmond park and back to richmond
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in the past few years we have seen a number of new foot bridges around london. the redevelopment of paddington basin has afforded the opportunity for a few more. visually it seems one of the more interesting of new areas in london, and its location certainly helps. as a part of the redevelopment of the area the old bridge over the great western mainline is currently suspended in mid-air while a replacment is built.
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the great river race is a recent annual addition to river activities, and it seems to have become very popular with many entries from distant parts of the country and abroad. most of those taking part in this handicap race seem to regard it as a fun event, although the distance from ham where i photographed the start to greenwich, even with the tide, makes it quite a feat.

the main interest is really in the many different types of boat taking part, from ancient designs with a skin stretched over a frame and unshaped oars to whaling boats, fishing boats and various modern designs for speed, including paddle-powered dragon boats. i don't think the pedalos were officially in the race, but i could well be wrong.
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the following day i started out at east finchley donkey derby. i can't remember having seen one before, but have no desire to see another.

lady somerset road in kentish town was having a street party, along with residents from a couple of adjoining roads. it all looked rather a nice event, with kids having fun, setting up stalls to sell stuff for charity or for themselves, childrens games, music, and, most importantly, a fairly tasty-looking cheap lunch at the tables along the middle of the street. the idea was for people to get to know each other, and it seems a very good idea. perhaps every street should be closed to traffic for a party for at least a few days each year.
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the brick lane festival seemed less exciting, although again the main event was eating at the many curry houses in the street. the only really interest for me was in the capoeira performance by ginga de quilombo
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thames day is one of ken's events that hasn't quite gelled yet, although there were a few events and performances along the riverside it was perhaps too strung out and lacking a real focus. of course i did go home before the main events, as well as taking a break in the afternoon to walk around bermondsey with members of london arts cafe. the main focus of the walk were the former locations of many artist's studios in the days prior to redevelopment when the area was full of largely empty warehouses providing cheap studio space which allowed young british artists to work on a large scale.
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horseman's sunday is now an annual event, though this was the first time i've attended. i never knew the hyde park pony club had so many members. fortunately the rite was anglican, so everyone left the singing to the choir, avoiding scaring the horses.
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around the corner, a small group was remembering one of the heroes of the second world war, swedish diplomat raoul wallenberg, who saved perhaps a hundred thousand jews from the nazi holocaust in budapest, himself dying in a russian jail. there are monuments to him around the world including this one near marble arch.
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in dalston, i found that the hackney mare de gras procession had been put off because of a murder in mare st

meanwhile, down in shoreditch a festival and car-free day was getting underway, with the london school of samba dancing through the streets and other events including the secretsundaze sound system.
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leytonstone was also enjoying a car-free day, and one of the highlights there was the rinky dink cycle-powered sound system, bringing back memories of april's march to aldermaston, where this accompanied us on the last few miles.
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monday i had to come up to london for a meeting, and took the opportunity to photograph a few buildings. also i've straightened out most of the nikon lens distortion on one of these. i don't think too highly of nikon wide-angles, not a patch on the zuiko or leitz lenses in this respect, nor up with sigma or voigtlander/cosina either.

saturday was surbiton, an oddly isolated suburb of kingston, which has a festival with a grand parade and a little old-fashioned community spirit that i admire. pity about the rain though. the surrey starlets were impressive, despite coming from chessington.
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brighton isn't quite london, though it is london by the sea. we were there on sunday to make sure the labour government knew we were serious about trade justice. we wanted to get across the message that 'fair trade' isn't fair when richer countries have all the advantages that wealth and position gives in any bargaining position. the world needs trade justice.
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Ballot on the Beach: Brighton Sunday 26 September 2004
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On my bike

Staines - Harefield - Staines, 1 September

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004Reflections on the Colne/Grand Union canal
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The Iraq War Fat Cat Tour

London, 4 September

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
A fat cat handing out dollar bills next to the Shell Centre, London, 4 September, 2004.
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Cycle racing in Whitehall

Sunday 5 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
The first lap of the club race and one cyclist has already broken from the pack on Embankment.

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Angel Canal Festival

Islington, London, Sunday 5 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Morris Dancers entertain outside a pub in Islington
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Walthamstow Festival 2004

Walthamstow, London, Sunday 5 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
A women's morris dancing in High Street , Walthamstow
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City of London Flower Show

Guildhall, London, Monday 6 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Inside the main hall at the Guildhall, London
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September 8

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004Cottages in the centre of Kew.      more pictures


Paddington Basin Redeveloped

Paddington, London, Sept 9, 2004 Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
One of several new bridges at Paddington basin
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The Great River Race

Ham and Richmond, London, Sept 11, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Dragons on the attack at Ham
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Lady Somerset Road Street Party

Kentish Town, Sunday 12 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
more pictures and some of the donkey derby.


Brick Lane Festival

Spitalfields, Sunday 12 Sept, 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004Capoeira from Ginga de Quilombo
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Thames Day and Bermondsey

London Arts Cafe, Sat 18 Aug, 2004

On our walk we heard the good news that the public enquiry had reported the previous day, refusing the eviction of the boats from the Downings Roads moorings.     more pictures


Horseman's Sunday

Church of St John's, Hyde Park Crescent, London, W2 Sun 19 September

Assembling for the ride to church a short distance from Hyde Park Crescent
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Shoreditch Car Free Festival

Shoreditch, London, Sun 19 September

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Leytonstone Car-Free Festival

Leytonstone, London, Sunday 19 September

A call for an end to Chinese persecution of the Falun Gong.
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Surbiton Festival Market & Grand Parade

Surbiton, Saturday 25 September, 2004

Surrey Starlets from Chessington, the first European Cheerleaders to win a major Nationals Championship in America.
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