london diary

September 2006


my london diary

saturday i had prints to take to a museum in walthamstow for a display on their open day and the open house weekend. fortunately i decided to check my journey on the transport for london journey planner, which gave some curious routes as the victoria line was out of action around seven sisters. what the site failed to tell me about was the 25 minutes wait for a train when i missed the connection, and the other 25 minutes wait for a bus (when two - or was it three - came together.)

for the route back, i used my brain rather than a computer and haved the time. i'd decided to call in on the greenish event around islington green. since i got to stratford just as the north london line train pulled out, i took the jubilee to london bridge, then the northern to angel. but travelling around london by public transport gets more like playing mornington crescent every day.

at islington it was raining slightly, and nothing of much interest was happening. i took a couple of snaps and caught a bus back into the centre, going to a couple of galleries. then home.
a couple of snaps

a little bit of hackney came to kingston on sunday morning to provide the kingston carnival. hard to see why kingston can't put up its own carnival, but beeraahaar sweet combination are a fine group that i've photographed at notting hill and mardi gras in hackney, and even a small group of them gave the event a little atmosphere. just a pity there weren't more groups and people from kingston in the parade to match them.

the stalls around the guildhall showed there are a diverse range of communities in the area, but the parade didn't really reflect this. shipping in a carnival procression provides a little diversion, but surely the whole point of a borough paying for a carnival is to encourage community activities within its own boundaries?
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from kingston i caught the train up to town and to spain, which was happening in regent street, closed to traffic for the day. of course not closed to shopping, which perhaps rather limits what the organisers could do. i didn't find the event too exciting, and the large crowds around anything that was going on reflected that too little was happening.

the police, mainly down a side street, were putting on a good show, one of the funniest i've seen for a long time, demonstrating how the police are supposed to restrain people, and use weapons such as pepper spray. the gulf between theory and practice is amazing.

i tried out a free sample of a revolting sherry-based drink, watched more spanish folk dancers than was good anoyone's sanity, avoided the sand on the 'beaches' and decided it was time to go home.

saturday 9 i went to oxford, which is hardly london, and the most interesting part of it - merton's library - didn't allow photography. it is apparently the first uk library which actually had the books on shelves, a novel idea in the 13th or 14th century.
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twice this month i failed to photograph the archbishop of canterbury. on sunday i was on my way to southwark, but got delayed by a points failure. so i crossed the bridge to the city, where firemen were helding their annual service and parade to remember firefighters who have lost their life on duty. many were killed in the city during the blitz and the fires started by later bombing raids, but in peacetime it remains a dangerous job.

by chance, this parade, held on the second sunday in november, happens around the same time as we are now thinking about 9/11 and those killed at the twin towers in new york. they were certainly remembered in the sermon, and also by at least one wreath laid here in london. i left the parade as it made its way around st pauls to the blitz memorial to firefighters, as i needed to go elsewhere.
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after lunch i made my way to brick lane, but couldn't get interested in what was happening there. everyone seemed either to be eating or just wandering around looking for something happening, and it wasn't. so i gave up and came home.

in mary harmsworth park, waiting for the christian aid organised march on the treasury to start i bumped - literally - into the archbishop of canterbury. he looked even more distracted than usual. a couple of minutes later i returned to take his picture. moving in his direction i took my eye off him for a second, and he vanished, leaving not even a cloud of smoke. later we were told he had another appointment and so couldn't stay.

however there were plenty of other people to photograph, perhaps a couple of thousand in all. we were there to march on the treasury, to demand that the government withhold funding from the international monetary fund, because of the unfair economic conditions they impose on countries that want loans. when the imf insists on free trade in agricultural produce for example, cheap eu subsidised tomatoes from italy can flood local markets and put the local tomato farmers out of business.

daleep mukarjee, christian aid's director was able to tell us (as most had heard on the radio earlier in the day), that development minister hilary benn, had announced that were were holding back £50 million for that reason. it would stretch belief to think that this announcement, coming on the day of the major demo, had no connection with the six-month campaign leading up to it. of course it is only a first small step in what needs to be done.

among the other speakers was former boyzoner ronan keating, (since going solo he has an impressive list of top ten singles and albums, though i've never knowingly heard any of them.) he gave a decent speech and spoke movingly about his trip to ghana for christian aid

then we were on the march, across lambeth bridge and up past the houses of parliament to whitehall, where the two thousand or so of us paused outside downing street while a small group went in to deliver an african drum and the christian aid petition to gordon brown's door.

the parade came to a halt outside the treasury offices in whitehall place, with more drumming and speeches. at least some of those inside took a little interest in what was going on, breaking off from their tea break to listen to the speeches.
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i had a few days away from london and missed a few interesting things at the weekend. the following thursday i took off from a meeting and cycled to canning town, and wandered through the east india dock estate to the walkway which leads to the bow creek nature reserve.

to my surprise, the gates on the bridge over the dlr, which should lead to the riverside walkway to canning town station were unlocked, and i was able to go over the bridge. only to find the path still blocked. i was just about able to take a few pictures, but not quite from the location i've long wanted to reach to photograph pura foods.

i'd come to photograph the demolition of pura foods, soon to be replaced by a mixture of housing and retail development - and including a new bridge to canning town station. this is in addition to another new bridge planned to take the riverside path from canning town across the lea close to the lower lea crossing down to trinity buoy wharf arts centre, which was once promised for completion by this december.

locals won't be sorry to see pura go, one of the few remaining obnoxious industries in this belt to the east of the city, although a succestful campaign by telco against the small had previously led to them cleaning up their act. pura foods was disappearing fast before my very eyes as i rode along the riverside path and then over the lower lea crossing.
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friday i tried some underwater photography in the city, taking pictures of the annual st matthews day march by pupils of christ's hospital school from a service in st andrew's holborn. i kept with them all the way to mansion house, where they turned down walbrook before returning for their lunch with the lord mayor, but conditions were really atrocious for them and for me. i kept the camera under my waterproof coat as much as possible, and kept wiping the rain of the lens filter with a microfibre cloth, but eventually the lens misted up inside and stopped focusing. so there are some interesting effects, but not much in the way of pictures.
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i lunched on my own, then set off to visit a few photo galleries. the first two were closed, despite being advertised as open, which wasn't a good start. but the third was open, as was the npg, though the work there was disappointment.

in trafalgar square, outrage and others were demonstrating outside uganda house against the persecution of gays in uganda. at first i thought the protestors were likely to be outnumbered by the two police, but eventually around 50 turned up, some having travelled a couple of hundred miles to be there. i missed one picture of a ugandan inside the building who had come up to the glass doors and was behind their rather fancy bird-shaped handles; as i raised my camera he scurried quickly away. others were watching through the curtained windows of the upper stories.
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there were two sets of mass lone demos - following the idea of mark thomas - arranged for 6.00pm and 6.30pm in parliament square, with some demonstrators having also applied for permission to protest in whitehall outside downing street later in the evening. as well as the usual staunch supporters of brian haw (and of course the man himself) there were a wide variety of causes, across a whole spectrum from insanely nutty to deadly serious.

at least two commented on the actual nature of placards and signs, and those present demonstrated a wide range of care and skill. the shortest demo on record was probably acheived by the two protestors who had brought a finely painted bendy bus, but, doubtless due to being held up in traffic, it arrived late and they finished their demonstration almost before it had started.

the police stood around the edge of the square, not bothering to check up on what was going on. after all, one or two unauthorised demonstratons weren't going to make a lot of difference among all those who had permission. even cheeky comments from some of the more regularly harassed protestors failed to arouse their interest.
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the good thing about bromley is that it has a very fast train service from victoria. so it only took me a few minutes to get there to see its car-free street festival, hidden away in a side street a couple of minutes walk from the busy (and pedestrianised) shopping streets and the large and crowded car parks. bromley is very stony ground for sowing environmental seed, and the lack of interest shown by the inhabitants in what was going on was unsurprising, if disappointing both to me and to the organisers. i hope a few more strayed in later in the day.

i wanted to be back in stockwell for the festival parade. there wasn't a lot of interest on the festival field - some portuguese sardines and beer (nasty fizz), a sort of inflatable tent, the usual face-painting and drumming etc for kids, bike workshops and a fair trade stall, but the parade itself was a small and lively affair, with lots of people demanding i take their picture .i enjoyed it. but when i saw my bus coming along the road i decided it was time for home.
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when i got up sunday it poured with rain. what with that and the replacement bus service instead of trains, i almost stayed home, but i was glad i didn't. by the time i arrived at turnham green, the sun was shining and four st michaels were laying into a single angel with their plastic swords.

this was the patronal festival of the anglican church of st michael and all angels, a part of the bedford park, the first garden suburb, begun in 1875. it was complete with a not very fierce looking dragon and a colourfully dressed set of clerics and choristers.
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from there i rushed off on the district line to photograph gorillas running through the centre of london. this was raising money for the dian fossey gorilla fund which helps to save the world's last remaining gorillas from poachers, civil war, human disease and deforestation.

running 7km in a gorilla suit isn't my idea of fun, and by the finish the contestants - even those who had taken off their masks for the run - were swimming in sweat inside their costumes as they tucked into the free bananas and fruit smoothies.
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things were a little more sedate at the guildhall for the annual pearly kings and queens (or costermongers) harvest festival. as well as the pearlies and what looked like a pretty full set of inner london mayors, along with a few donkey carts and a produce lorry, there were people in various victorian dress, chelsea pensioners, and others of a vaguely traditional london character. the fairground organ looked good, although its music soon palls.

a colourful note was added by donna maria's maypole dancers. donna maria was apparently a london may queen having served her time in one of the south-east london realms. she revived maypole dancing with her group of girls dressed in flower costumes who give demonstrations at many events each year.
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the golfing event of the weekend was not of course the ryder cup (where europe were thrashing the usa) but the shoreditch urban open golf tournament. 18 holes covering most of shoreditch between the city road and great eastern street make it the only par 72 urban course in the world.

there are certain local rules that the shoreditch golf club imposes, with the biggest change from the normal game being in the balls, which are considerably softer and lighter, to avoid damage to property and persons. probably the greatest risk to both players and spectators were in the generously available free drinks thanks to the sponsors jameson.

it was a nice afternoon, with a lot of people having fun, mainly watching the golfers. some of the players looked very professional, a few even played as if they were, though i was please to see others obviously holding a club for the first time in their life. the caddies included some considerably more glamourous than you'd see at st andrews.

the course seemed well-planned, with a pub or bar more or less at every green (and a few in-between.) i'm surprised there weren't more golfers taking advantage of the opportunity, as this must be the best course in the country (or at least in the city.)
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the annual surbiton festival seems still to be very much a local community based affair, and takes over one of the main shopping streets, still mainly lined by small shops. this year it's centre was the station car park, with room for a brass band, morris dancing and other activities.

the day started with driving rain, but fortunately it stopped in time for the festival to start, opened by the mayor of kingston. i followed here for a while as she visited the stalls along the street, taking a real interest in what was going on.

the 10 am start meant that at first the streets were rather empty, but things began to fill up later. the parade was a little thinner than in previous years, and we were disappointed not to see more.

after the parade i went back to watch the morris dancers perform a second set, but as it came on to rain, i decided it was time to take a train elsewhere.
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Saturday 2 Sept, 2006
© 2006, Peter Marshall

An unusual cyclist

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Kingston Carnival

Kingston, Surrey. Sept 3, 2006
© 2006, Peter Marshall
Carnival stars from Hackney dominated the Kingston parade

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Regent Street Festival

Regent St, London 3 September 2006
© 2006, Peter Marshall
The festival had a Spanish theme
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Remembering Firefighters

Cheapside, London 10 Sept, 2006

© 2006, Peter Marshall
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Christian Aid Drums in the Trade Justice Message

March to the Treasury, Whitehall, London, 14 Sept, 2006
Christian Aid Trade Justice March © 2006, Peter Marshall
Marchers pass the Houses of Parliament on route to the Treasury
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Bow Creek

Canning Town, London 21 September, 2006
Bow Creek. © 2006, Peter Marshall
DLR train passes over Bow Creek.
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St Matthew's Day Procession - Christ's Hospital School

London, 22 September, 2006
St Matthew's Day - Christs Hospital School © 2006, Peter Marshall
The rain was beginning to chuck it down, but just a steady downpour at the start.
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Outrage Protests at Uganda House

Trafalgar Square, London 22 September, 2006 

Outrage at Uganda House © 2006, Peter Marshall
Peter Tatchell with other demonstrators outside Uganda House.
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Mass Lone Demo

Parliament Square, Westminster Friday 22 September
Mass Lone Demo © 2006, Peter MarshallThe Mass Lone Demo showed solidarity with Brian Haw in his continuing protest opposite the Houses of Parliament
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No Car in Bromley?

East Street, Bromley, London. Sat 23 September, 2006
No Car, Bromley © 2006, Peter Marshall
There was really very little to photograph in Bromley

Stockwell Festival 2006

Slade Gardens, Stockwell, London Sat 23 September, 2006

Stockwell Festival © 2006, Peter Marshall
The festival parade makes its way around Stockwell
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Patronal Festival St Michael and All Angels

Acton Green, London. Sunday 24 September.
Sunday 24 September: Patronal Festival Sunday
The procession heads back to the church

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Great Gorilla Run 2006

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, City of London Sept 24, 2006

Great Gorilla Run © 2006, Peter Marshall
Two Gorillas near St Pauls
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Costermongers (Pearly Kings) Harvest Festival

Guildhall, London. 24 September, 2006
Costermongers Harvest Festival © 2006, Peter Marshall

Donna Maria and Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road, Doreen Golding with Donna Maria's Maypole dancers.
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Shoreditch Urban Open Golf Tournament

Shoreditch, London. September 24, 2006
Costermongers (Pearly Kings & Queens) Harvest Festival © 2006, Peter Marshall Golf on the streets of Shoreditch
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Surbiton Festival 2006

Surbiton, Kingston 30 September, 2006
Surbiton Festival © Peter Marshall, 2006
Balloons and morris dancers in Surbiton station car park.
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