my london diary index


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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Matlock & High Tor

Matlock, Derbys. Sun 30 Dec 2018

High Tor from the footpath above St John's Rd
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Our train was not leaving until the afternoon, so I walked into the centre of Matlock with Linda who was on her way to church then walked up the footpath from Snitterton Rd which took me up high above the town.

The path came down to St John's Road next to the closed St John the Baptist's Chapel, built on a rock outcrop and seeming a part of the rocks. I walked down the road and the, a short distance along the main road to Matlock took the footbridge across the River Derwent and walked up to High Tor, going as far as the second viewpoint, before turning back to walk down and then take the path up to the war memorial at the top of High Tor.

The path from there led me back to Hall Leys Park where I sat and waited for Linda, and we went for a short walk together before going to Greggs (again) to buy a snack for lunch which we ate in the park. We returned to The Crown, where I sat with a pint and Linda went for a walk until it was time to go to the station.
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Matlock & Lumsdale

Matlock, Derbys. Sat 29 Dec 2018

This small stream once powered an important industrial site
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While others in the family went to a pantomime in Chesterfield I spent a few hours walking up Lumsdale, and then back down into Matlock, before meeting up with some of them and going back into Matlock for a Thai meal.

We were staying at the Red Lion in Matlock Green, a comfortable and friendly place, and after waiting with others for them to be picked up, I walked a short distance out on the road towards Alfreton before taking a footpath to Lumsdale.

The area here, cared for by the Arkwright Society, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and "is one of the best water-powered industrial archaeological sites in Great Britain: it is unusual to see so extensive a use of water power in such a relatively small area." It's also incredibly scenic with the small Bentley Brook plunging something like 500 ft down a series of falls in a narrow rocky valley. There were mills here since at least the 17th century, probably associated with nearby lead mines, but the existing remains largely date from the major development which began in the 1780s, when the early industrial revolution was launched depending on water power.

It perhaps wasn't surprising to find myself in the middle of a camera club outing, with the area cluttered by people with tripods and neutral density filters doing their best to kill the effect of the water with 10 minute exposures, and rather getting in the way. Doubtless I appear, if rather blurred, on many of their pictures, though I was of course moving considerably faster than them. I took far too many pictures of these very photogenic falls as you can see.

Winter was a good time to visit the site, as the many trees would restrict vision in summer months, though some of the paths were a little slippery with mud, and extremely steep. I no longer have any head for heights, and often found myself clutching on to trees and bushes for support as I began to shake.

The history of the site is complex, and there are at least six mills in ruins in the part of the valley managed by the Arkwright Society as well as several others, parts still in use, lower down which I also photographed. There are some very informative information boards for visitors, but the text on them is too small to show on the web. I won't attempt to tell the story here.

It took me slightly longer to get down the valley back to Matlock Green than I intended and the chip shop had just closed. I continued on my walk up to St Giles' Church in Old Matlock overlooking the modern town from Pic Tor, then going down Stony Way and into Hall Leys Park and on the the curiously named Crown Square, a few yards from which was a Greggs. After eating a snack sitting the park it was time to investigate the Crown Inn, where I relaxed before going on another walk around the town just after sunset. Later in the evening I took a few more pictures in the dark after our evening meal in a Thai restaurant before walking back to Matlock Green and the Red Lion.
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Matlock - Oker Hill

Oker Hill, nr Matlock, Derbys. Fri 28 Dec 2018

It wasn't a good day to climb Oker Hill as the path was slippery mud
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We'd gone to Matlock to visit my younger son and his family, and when we arrived in early afternoon went more or less directly from the station to walk up Oker Hill, a few miles away.

Oker gets its name from a Roman lookout post which they named the hill of Occurus, and has a view, now partly obscured by trees, in all directions. The Romans were probably the first to mine lead here, but now it is just farmland, with one of the two hilltops dominated by a single sycamore tree, made famous by Wordsworth in 1791, who stayed the night nearby and wrote a sonnet on it.

Originally there were two trees planted by brothers Will and Tom Shore. They quarreled and Tom left the area to seek his fortune abroad, but died in poverty. His tree too withered, while Will, who stayed at home, prospered, as did his tree.

"Tis said that to the brow of yon fair hill
Two brother clomb; and turning face from face
Nor one look more exchanging, grief to still
Or feed, each planted on that lofty place
A chosen tree. Then eager to fulfil
Their courses, like two new-born rivers, they
In opposite directions urged their way
Down from the far-seen mount. No blast might kill
Or blight that fond memorial. The trees grew
And now entwine, their arms' but ne'er again
Embraced those brothers upon earth's wide plain,
Nor aught of mutual joy or sorrow knew
Until their spirits mingled in the sea
That to itself takes all - Eternity"

Today we had gone up so that our two grandchildren could find a secret cache left their by other young Matlock residents, with an invitation both to add something to it and to take something out, as well as writing in a visitor's book. We did, and stood around drinking hot chocolate and admiring the views, though the light was beginning to fade.

We took a slightly different route down the hill, hoping unsuccessfully to avoid the worst of the mud, that led past 'Grace's Well'. A stone wall around a small spring this was apparently built just after 1900 for Grace, a member of the Greatorex family, who still farm the area and some of whose grandchildren still live around. Mains water only arrived here in the 1920s or 1930s.
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Brentford to Hammersmith

Brentford to Hammersmith, London. Thu 27 Dec 2018

'Rule Britannia' on a boat moored below Thames Lock at Brentford
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As usual we went to walk off some of our Christmas and Boxing Day excess, along a route suggested by me to take in Chiswick House as well as parts of the Thames Walk.

As our rail services were affected by engineering works we took the train to Twickenham and then caught the bus to Brentford to start the walk. I knew Brentford as a boy, mainly viewed from the top of a bus, when it was possible to go through the town and not see how much it depended on the river, though the bus did go over the Grand Union Canal, and we started our walk at a bus stop close to there.

Although the Brentford Locks remain, along with the canal bed, the area around them has changed completely with recently built flats replacing the old canal sheds. We walked on the bridge over the locks and then a new bridge over the River Brent to return to the main road, going down the steps beside the canal to the towpath and continuing along that to join the Thames Path and continue to Thames Lock.

We went down the steps to the side of the canal to take photographs before continuing up the road to the High Street. The path here was diverted and we had to walk along to Pump Alley, going down this and then Pump Meadow to rejoin the Thames Path, making our way along this (with a minor diversion due to a little flooding) to Kew Bridge.

We continued along the riverside path through Strand on the Green, where we stopped to eat our sandwiches before continuing along the riverside path until it ends on Thames Road. We went up Grove Park Terrace to Fauconberg Rd, turning right into that and continuing into Staveley Rd before turning left in to Park Road and reaching Chiswick House Gardens.

I'd gone this way to look at the Classic Bridge, but we were diverted by a giant inflated moon, and missed the bridge on our route to the obelisk, turning from there to go past the north of the house to the cafe for tea, coffee and cake, before returning to look at the front of the house and then walk on, across Burlington Lane to Powell's Walk to St Nicholas' Church and Chiswick Mall. We then followed the riverside walk to Hammersmith Bridge before walking up to the bus station to catch the bus back to Twickenham and the train home.

I'd walked all of this several times before, though never quite in this single route of around 5 or 6 miles, and it made for a very pleasant day, at a leisurely pace ending as darkness began to fall around 4pm, and working up an appetite for dinner after we arrived home.
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Boxing Day Walk

Staines to Old Windsor. Wed 26 Dec 2018
We had time for a small detour to the Magna Carta Memorial
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We walked from Staines to Old Windsor for lunch on Boxing Day, as we have done for some years.

From Staines we took the towpath, stopping for a brief rest at Runnemede where Linda had a cup of coffee and I drank lemonade. We were early for our Boxing Day lunch, for the first time at the Bells of Ouzely, and walked up to the Magna Carta Memorial on the way. After the meal we went on along the towpath to go to my sisters for tea.
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London Bike Life

Oxford St, London. Sat 22 Dec 2018

A masked rider does a wheelie as he cycles past a yellow 'bananas' bus on Oxford St
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It's hard to find any information about the bike ride on the Saturday before Christmas, though I think it probably starts south of the river, perhaps at Tower Bridge, Druid St or Leake St, around lunchtime. It seems to be a UK Bike Life Wheelie Ride.

Unlike other, more organised rides, it isn't a charity ride, just several hundred cyclists (there may well have been more after I left Oxford St), nearly all young men, who get together to have fun swarming around the city, showing off with wheelies, stopping traffic, riding on pavements as well as roads, ignoring traffic lights, forcing drivers to stop and generally behaving badly on bikes.

I'd not expected them, though I knew a ride was taking place I had no details of their route or likely timings. But I didn't have time to think about technical details and many of the pictures I took were blurred - I should have used much faster shutter speeds with the camera set to a much higher ISO, and it would have been nice to find a position with a better background, though the bright yellow 'bananas' bus did seem quite appropriate.

They did show considerable skill as they weaved their way through traffic and pedestrians on Oxford St, several missing me by inches as sped past. But it did seem extremely dangerous - and something that gives cycling a bad reputation. more pictures

Debenhams Pay Your Cleaners

Oxford St, London. Sat 22 Dec 2018

Cleaners who belong to CAIWU call for a real Living Wage
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Cleaners at the Oxford Street branch of Debenhams hold a noisy rally outside the store where they are on strike today.

The Independent Workers Union - CAIWU had been campaigning for the London Living Wage since May, but employers Interserve have refused any talks with the union which they refuse to recognise.

Outsourcing of cleaners always results in them being poorly treated and badly paid - its the only way the contracting company can get the job down for the lowest tender and make a nice profit for its owners or shareholders. If it treated the cleaners with dignity and paid a proper wage its costs would be the same as a reputable company employing its own workers. By using companies like Interserve, Debenhams are saying they don't care how badly the workers who clean their store are treated.

Protests like this are intended to shame reputable companies like Debenhams so they put pressure on cleaning contractors like Interserve to give the cleaners decent wages and conditions. The London Living Wage isn't a fortune, but is the minimum to live decently in London, and around 30% more than they are currently paid. CAIWU is one of several small grassroots trade unions which has been very successful in getting better pay and condition for low paid workers.

Many members of the public took leaflets and expressed support for the cleaners who are currently only paid the minimum wage, far too little to live on in London, and some took photographs to post to their friends; a few stopped to talk or dance to the music played by the picket.
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Nine Elms Wander

Nine Elms, London. Fri 21 Dec 2018

Police and I were both expecting a protest, but nobody arrived
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Both a press release and a Facebook Event had said there would be a protest at the US Embassy against Trump's announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, but I only met one person, who like me was looking for the protest.

I'd arrived at exactly the time given for the start of the protest to find two police cars but no protesters, and decided to walk around the area a little while I was waiting and take some pictures. Half an hour later another photographer and one person who had come to take part in the protest did arrive. After almost an hour I gave up and walked back to Vauxhall station to see if there were any protesters waiting there to march to the embassy. There weren't and I caught a train home.

Pulling out the US troops could be disastrous for the Kurdish forces who have been so successful against ISIS, defeating them in the area. They have only relatively light arms and their success has depended on US air support as well as other assistance from the US. If the US withdraw, Rojava,the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria will be left with little effective defence against Turkish forces who have already occupied part of their territory and have announced their intention to wipe out the rest of the Kurds.

As well as being a disaster for the Kurds, this would also be a disaster for Syria and the prospect of any peace settlement in the area, which seems only possible under some kind of federal system incorporating semi-autonomous regions such as Rojava. Turkey's interests are partly to eliminate the Kurds who have long been subjected to repression and cultural exclusion in Turkey, but also to take over the rich oil reserves in Rojava, as Turkey has no significant oil reserves within its current boundaries.
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Humanity Face Extinction

Great Portland St, London. Fri 21 Dec 2018

A street display but there was no-one to talk with when I walked past
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Another campaign calling on the BBC to tell the truth, with a display a short walk away from the BBC centre.

Noah's Ark Earth Rescue is the "eco-warriors' worldwide publicity campaign to save the South Pacific island nations from vanishing beneath the rising sea levels and offering genuine solutions to save humanity from being driven to extinction by global warming as a result of the burning of fossil fuels."

There was nobody around to talk with - perhaps they were at the BBC with Extinction Rebellion - and I didn't have time to stop, so there are just a few pictures of the display here.
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Extinction Rebellion at the BBC

Broadcasting House, London. Fri 21 Dec 2018 BBC Security stop a XR protester who tries to climb over a barrier
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Climate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion protest at the BBC calling it to stop ignoring the climate emergency & mass extinctions taking place and promoting destructive high-carbon living through programmes such as Top Gear and those on fashion, travel, makeovers etc.

The protest, organised by the Climate Media Coalition (CMC) and its director Donnachadh McCarthy brought mannequins wrapped in white cloth to the BBC representing the bodies of a Greek village killed by fire. There was a speech by a young protester, Scarlett, and a new song performed by another. After speeches by Claire, McCarthy and others the protesters marched around to the other side of the BBC site where they attempted to climb over the barriers but were repelled by security. Some protesters then sat down in front, blocking the entrance, and later their place was taken by three people from the Dharma Action Network meditating, one with ears blocked, one blindfolded and one gagged with posters about the BBC based on the three wise monkeys who "hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil".

Most of the protesters then began to march back towards the front of the site, but some made a rush for BBC Wogan House, where one superglued his hand to the door and another hers to the steps outside while police and security stopped others from entering.

The protest continued at both sides of the BBC Plaza, and I kept on taking pictures. Unfortunately I was at the wrong side when Donnachadh was arrested for trying to go over the barriers. The protest was still continuing when I left to cover another event.
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Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists

Houses of Parliament, London. Wed 19 Dec 2018
A small group of protesters harass Anna Soubry MP outside Parliament
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MP Anna Soubry was recognised on the pavement outside Parliament by a small group of the extreme Brexiteers who were protesting there and they chased and harassed here as she walked along the pavement, asking why she was calling for a second referendum.

She answered one who she called by name as she hurried to escape and then called police for assistance after another man shouted at her 'You fucking traitor!' complaining that this was an offence, stopping close to an officer who was on the other side of the security barrier. He and other police then came and quickly escorted her away from the group. There were no immediate arrests, but the incident later became subject to an inquiry by the speaker of the house, who extended his sympathy to Ms Soubry.

She later complained that she had been compared to the Nazis, which may be true, but I had not registered this particular exchange. But I was busy moving backwards in a fairly confined space while trying to keep her in shot while she was walking briskly away, with one of the protesters who was filming on his phone in my way.
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Extremist Brexiteers at parliament

Houses of Parliament, London. Wed 19 Dec 2018

Right-wing protesters try to stop cars coming out of Parliament
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A small group of extreme right Brexiteers wearing high-viz vests with Union flags and the message 'Justice for Our Boys' protested outside parliament calling for an immediate Brexit and attempted to stop vehicles leaving parliament but were moved away by police.

One of the protesters carried a rolled up large banner showing them to be Arsenal supporters, and they had spent some hours earlier yelling insults at the regular SODEM pro-EU protesters. Some of those taking part were people who recorded on the video when the socialist bookshop, Bookmarks, was attacked earlier this year, and some faces were familiar from protests by the EDL and other extreme right groups.

From the gates of Parliament they went to the visitors entrance where the complained loudly when they were refused entry. I photographed them there talking to a flamboyantly dressed American who was being recorded by his two-person crew, as well as many of the protesters on their phones, then followed a small group who recognised and went to harass Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who they called a traitor for suggesting there might be a second referendum - pictures in another post.
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Extreme Brexiteers clash with SODEM

Houses of Parliament, London. Wed 19 Dec 2018

A right-wing Brexiteer accuses Steve Bray of getting drunk and asks who is funding him
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A small group of extreme right-wing pro-Brexit protesters came to shout and argue with the daily SODEM (Stand of Defiance European Movement) protesters and to shout personal insults at Steven Bray who founded SODEM in September 2017.

They accused Bray of being a drunk and asked "Who funds Drunk Steve", a question that was rather redundant as two large banners were covered with logos of organisations supporting SODEM's daily pickets.

Police tried hard to keep the clashes peaceful, and warned the right-wing protesters about their language. The Brexiteers then accused the police of taking sides. Eventually they moved away to protest outside parliament.
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MP welcomes Delhi to London driver

Houses of Parliament, London. Wed 19 Dec 2018

Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, shakes the hand of The Turban Traveller
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Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, came to welcome The Turban Traveller, a Sikh with a film crew from Creative Concept Films in Delhi who arrived in London today after driving overland from Delhi.

Together with his crew they had visited 33 countries and around 50 cities in 150 days, covering 33,000km - over 20,000 miles, posting videos from the journey on the way. A film will be released of the journey shortly. In 2019 The Turban Traveller aims to drive the whole length of North and South America.
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Cuts kill disabled people say protesters

Houses of Parliament, London. Wed 19 Dec 2018

'Tory Cuts Kill' say DPAC and another banner has the names of a hundred who have died
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Disability groups DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network) together with WOW campaign protested in support of the parliamentary debate due later in the day on the cumulative impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people.

They say the government cuts and changes in benefits, along with inappropriate benefit sanctions, have had a disproportionate effect on disabled people, resulting in great hardship, denying people their rights and many deaths

Among those who visited the protest were Labour MPs Virendra Sharma(Ealing Southall) and Laura Pidcock (North West Durham) and Lib-Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno.
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Berlin Syndikat protest at London landlords

Global Real Estate Investors Ltd, London. Tue 18 Dec 2018
A cycle-hauled sound system came to the protest to provide amplification and music
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Berlin community centre and pub Syndikat protested with London Renters Union outside the London offices of their landlord, Global Real Estate Investors Limited.

This company is owned by the secretive Pears brothers, three of the richest men in the UK, who through various "letterbox" companies own around 6200 properties in Berlin, including Syndikat who were appealing against notice to quit after being open for 33 years in Berlin-Neukölln.

As well as their property company the Pears brothers also own the Pears Foundation, "an independent, British family foundation, rooted in Jewish values, that takes £15-20 million of private money every year and invests it in good causes. The protest follows those in Berlin, including at the Pears office there and the British Embassy, also thought to be owned by Pears.
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London Stands With The Stansted15

Home Office, London. Tue 18 Dec 2018

People read the names of asylum seekers who have died at the vigil outside the Home Office
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People join London Catholic Worker in a vigil of liturgy, prayers and music outside the Home Office in solidarity with the #Stansted15 found guilty of a terror-related offence for peacefully preventing a secret chartered deportation flight last March and with all refugees.

It was one of many events around the country against a verdict Amnesty International called "a crushing blow for human rights" and a charge that most feel completely inappropriate for the entirely peaceful action. The main banner read 'God's Love Knows No Borders.

London Catholic Worker hold a monthly vigil for refugees outside the Home Office, and the liturgy for this event was the one they use every month. One part of it involves reading out the names of refugees who have died, and this is added too each month. People take the list and read out a few names before handing it on. The entries are short - the names and a very short description of how they died.

I took the list and read about a dozen names, giving up when my emotions made my voice begin to fail. I think all those I read were asylum seekers who had maked it to the UK but had then committed suicide in desperation over their treatment by the Home Office, who in several cases were about to forcibly deport them by the kind of charter flights the Stansted 15 stopped, back to the countries they had fled in fear of their lives.
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Grenfell silent walk - 18 months on

Kensington, London. Fri 14th December 2018

People carry large and small Grenfell hearts on the protest
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People including many who lost family and friends at Grenfell take part in a silent walk marking 18 months since the disaster.

The walk began at Kensington Town Hall because they hold Kensington and Chelsea Council responsible for the tragedy and for failing to deal effectively with is aftermath, with many survivors still not properly rehoused. They want justice and those responsible brought to trial, for the community concerns to be met and changes made to ensure safety for all.

Many feel that the investigation into Grenfell is being taken at a deliberately slow pace, both by the police and by the official inquiry, with both being used as excuses for a lack of desperately needed action to prevent more disasters taking place and to bring those responsible to justice. Some feel that far more active protests by the community than the ,monthly silent march would have helped to bring justice and stopped things being covered up and forgotten in the long grass.

It certainly seems surprising to me that the campaign has not been more forceful. Obviously those for those most closely affected by the terrible fire, trauma makes a more purposeful serious of actions difficult or impossible, but the wider community seem also to have been affected. It was unfortunate that some people set up a rival organisation to United for Grenfell which has gained much of the publicity but has failed to make any real gains and has perhaps served to de-radicalise despite its left-wing connections.

I left the march as it turned off Notting Hill Gate to catch the tube.
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Hand Back Venezuela's stolen money

Euroclear, City of London. Fri 14 Dec 2018

Protesters talk with a sceptical passer-by
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Campaigners protest outside Euroclear, a J P Morgan Subsidiary in the City of London calling for the company to return over $1billion belonging to the Venezuelan government.

The money was sent to buy medicines and food for Venezuela. Euroclear accepted the money despite US sanctions which were in place, but now claims these sanctions prevent it from returning it, meaning that many Venezuelans, particularly children, will die because of lack of medicines.

The US is pushing for humanitarian intervention in Venezuela, but will not release this money for humanitarian purposes as its real aim is to replace the regime.
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SODEM vigil against Brexit

Old Palace Yard, London. Wed 12 Dec 2018

SODEM continue their protest - every day when Parliament is in session

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Since Steven Bray founded SODEM in September 2017, he and his supporters have kept up a vigil opposite parliament on every day they are sitting.

Long derided as a lost cause, it now seems quite possible if not more than likely that Brexit will not happen - as Bray confidently tells anyone who asks - as Parliament seems unlikely to back the deal negotiated by Theresa May and the only majority appears to be one against leaving without a deal now that we have more idea exactly what the consequences of that will be.

The real problem is that neither of the two main parties wants to be blamed as responsible for not carrying out the referendum mandate even though it is becoming increasingly clear that the vote was made for false promises rather than actual sensible possibilities. Boris, Rees-Mogg, Farage and the rest got people to vote for unicorns, with the active assistance of much of the media, and a little illegality here and there.

As some Brexit fudge seems increasingly likely, there have also been regular protests by a small group shouting "Brexit Now!" and generally taunting the SODEM protesters. They appear to be football supporters with extreme right wing views, but they lack the stamina of SODEM and had gone long before I arrived on Thursday evening to take these pictures.
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70 years of Human Rights

US Embassy, London. Mon 10 Dec 2018

Some of the protesters in front of the US Embassy
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The final 'Shut Guantanamo!' monthly protest of 2018 at the US Embassy by the London Guantanamo Campaign took place on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The UDHR, which is the foundation of the modern human rights movement, declared "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

Clearly the USA is in breach of these and other articles of the UDHR, and has been since it set up the illegal prison camp on Cuban soil and used illegal rendition to bring prisoners there and in the various secret military torture facilities it has had in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Guantanamo still has 40 detainees who have been tortured and held in indefinite detention without trial for almost 17 years. The protest called for justice and release for them and other and victims of human rights abuses everywhere.
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Marchers oppose Tommy Robinson

London. Sun 9 Dec 2018

A little red smoke livens up the march
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A 'united' counter demonstration by anti-fascists marches in opposition to Tommy Robinson's fascist march. The march which included both remain and leave supporting anti-fascists gathered at the BBC to to to a rally at Downing St. Police had issued conditions on both events designed to keep them well apart from the fascist pro-Brexit march.

Originally two different groups of organisations had been planning to hold separate protests against Robinson, but Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism appealed to the other groups including several Brazilian groups and various anti-fascists who had successfully blocked a previous Robinson march to join them in a united protest.

Unfortunately agreements that were made about how the march should proceed were apparently ignored by the UAF and SUTR, leaving the anti-fascists angry about what appeared to be a complete takeover of the event. Some anti-fascists clashed with Robinson supporters who had come to Trafalgar Square to try to disrupt the march and a large group of anti-fascist marchers ignored the rally taking place with speakers they felt dominated by the Socialist Workers Party and allied organisations.

This bloc decided to leave Whitehall in a group to disperse at Charing Cross station. At first police formed a cordon to stop them leaving, but after a brief stand-off, the police organised to escort them there, and I left with them.
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London flooded with Santas

Covent Garden, London. Sat 8th December 2018

Santas pose for the camera in St Martin's Lane
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Large crowds of people dressed in Santa costumes, together with the odd elf and reindeer were converging on Trafalgar Square spreading glad tidings as darkness fell, some following hand-pulled sound systems and dancing on the streets, though many groups were diverted into pubs and food shops on the way.

Many carried bottles or cans and all were in merry mood. Santacon had started at 11am at several different locations and is an annual charity event, this year supporting Christmas for Kids.
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British Museum Stolen Goods Tour

British Museum, London. Sat 8th December 2018

Rodney Kelly speaks beside the Gweagal shield stolen from his ancestor by Captain Cook at Botany Bay

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A tour organised by BP or not BP? led by Indigenous Australian campaigner Rodney Kelly and other campaigners called for the return of stolen vital cultural objects in the British Museum collection.

Rodney Kelly is a 6th generation direct descendant of Cooman, whose Gweagal shield was taken when Captain Cook's men arriving in Australia fired on him. He began (and ended) his talk by playing his didgeridoo, and then talked about how the British Museum had dismissed his earlier attempts to return the shield and other items, and had refused to take seriously the oral tradition of his people as it could not be confirmed by written records. In their efforts to retain possession of the shield and other items, many of which are kept in the museum basement and never exhibited they were prepared to go to desperate lengths, including getting their own experts to cast doubt on the stories which the museum had previously featured about these objects.

The shield sits in a dimly lit cupboard and is looked at by very few of the museum's visitors, while Kelly says that 'back home' it would be at the centre of a living culture, inspiring his people to keep and develop their heritage.

A large crowd gathered to hear him speak and he was warmly applauded. Before he began his formal talk he had been introduced by BP or not BP campaigners, several of whom came dressed as 'burglars' in striped black and white tops and carrying a sack for swag. Another came in a suit wearing a BP logo and explained why BP gave the museum a relatively small amount in sponsorship which gave them huge rewards in making them seem a responsible company despite their reprehensible activities in countries around the world, despoiling resources, polluting the environment and severely aggravating global warming by encouraging fossil fuel use.

From the Gweagal shield with its musket hole the crowd followed a guide from BP or Not BP to the entrance to the current BP-sponsored Assyrian show, where an Iraqi woman talked about BP's role in her country and the looting which followed the invasion of Iraq and the looting of cultural artifacts, some of which were on display in the show.

We then moved to gather beside a stone figure from Easter Island where a speaker from the Pacific Island arts group the Interisland Collective talked about the treatment by museums of Maori and Pacific Islands cultural items and read a statement from the Rapa Nui Pioneers on Easter Island calling for the return of their stolen Moai Head.

The final location for speeches was in front of the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles, where BP or not NBP's Danny Chivers revealed his partly Greek ancestry and talked about his visit to the Parthenon and the museum there which has been built to exhibit its missing sculptures.

The tour ended with a group photograph of those who had taken part in front of the Assyrian exhibition.

While it is great for us to be able to see these various objects looted from their cultures in one place, the technology exists to make replicas indistinguishable to the originals and display these while returning the originals where they belong.

Other campaigners called for the return of objects from the Pacific Islands and Iraq. Many of these objects have been used in 'greenwashing' BP sponsored museum shows, including looted items from Iraq in the current Assyria exhibition.
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Dharma meditation for climate

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 8 Dec 2018

Dharma Action Network meditate but call on people to act over climate
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Protesters from the Dharma Action Network meditated in Trafalgar Square and handed out flyers calling for people and governments to take effective actions to combat climate change.

Their meditation was intended as a springboard to action and they suggested people move their money out of banks which invest in fossil fuels, get informed by reading the IPCC report on global warming and join them and other groups including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or take action with Extinction Rebellion.
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Protest Slavery in Libya

London, UK. Sat 8 Dec 2018

The protesters march from Europe House past Parliament to the Foreign& Commonwealth Office

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Protesters meet at Europe House to protest against the lack of action over African migrants and refugees being sold or held against their will in Libya by terrorists and jihadists funded by the EU and others.

After a few speeches there, they marched to protest outside the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, saying the UK had failed to do anything to help because the victims were African, then stopped briefly at Downing St on their way to the Libyan Embassy.
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Winkfield Walk

Winkfield, Berks. Fri 7 Dec 2018

Stables near Winkfield
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Pictures from a fairly short family walk starting and finishing at a pub in Winkfield where we had a very nice plate of fish and chips, followed by a rather expensive pudding.

It was raining when we left home, but the weather was kind to us and it stopped ay the time we started the walk, and the sun was shining before we reached the end of the roughly 3 mile circular walk.

Winkfield is somewhere near Ascot, and it shows with various horsey things around and you stand a good chance of being run down by a very expensive car if you walk along the roads. Our route was mainly along footpaths, usually with a fence on one side and barbed wire on the other, and little danger of straying from the route.

The walk was on in a book, and I have to say it wasn't very exciting. Probably the best bit photographically was going through a large '(im)mobile home' site, though stopping around three quarters of the way around at The Winning Post, which describes itself as ' A luxurious inn' for a drink of Upham Brewery's 'Punter' was a bonus. We didn't eat there, though probably the 'Punter battered haddock with hand cut chips, tartare sauce and peas' would have been as good as the 'special' we got down the road at exactly half the price, where we had agreed to meet the others for lunch at The White Hart.
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SHAC Alternative Housing Awards 2018

Bishopsgate, London. Wed 5 Dec 2018
Nick from Unite Housing Worker's Branch after the awards were made
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SHAC Social Housing Action Campaign) hold their annual Alternative Housing Awards outside the National Housing Awards which were taking place at etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate, part of the Broadgate development.

SHAC is a joint initiative between housing associations and co-operative residents, housing activists and members of the Unite Housing Workers Branch demand that housing associations end commercialisation, improve services, provide safe and secure homes, build truly affordable housing and offer decent pay and conditions for their staff.

The Alternative Housing Awards cups for Housing Associations as landlords were awarded to Sanctuary Housing for Most Rotten Repairs, London & Quadrant for Soaring Service Charges, Peabody Trust for Senseless Social Cleansing and Dodgy Development, with a special mention for The Old Tidemill Garden in Deptford, Notting Hill Genesis for Rocketing Rents, Optivo for Secrecy, Unaccountability & Spin, Tower Hamlets Community Housing for Blundering Board and Management, with Clarion Housing Group as Overall Lousy Landlord.

Looking at them as employers, Catalyst were winners for Poverty Pay, St Mungo's for Punitive Performance Management, Peabody Trust gained a second award for its Relentless Restructures with Catalyst being awarded as Overall Bullying Bosses.

As none of the Housing association bosses had turned up to receive their awards, after the citations for one of the awards had been read by Nick from Unite Housing Workers Branch the small trophy was instead handed to a resident or trade unionist involved with the winning housing association, who each made a speech of acceptance, adding more damning details of their actions.

The protest took place on the steps leading up to 155 Bishopsgate. Security there objected to banners being taped to the wall, worried that the gaffer tape might cause some damage, but told the campaigners the protest could go ahead on the private steps if these were removed - which after some argument they were.

a giving cups to housing associations for poor repairs, service charges, social cleansing & dodgy development, rents, lack of accountability & spin, blundering management, poverty pay, punitive performance management, relentless restructures and overall bullying. Nick from Unite Housing read lengthy indictments for each award before inviting tenants and trade unionists involved with each to speak.
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BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019

Broadcasting House, London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
There were around a hundred pro-Palestine protesters listening to speeches outside the BBC
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Protesters called on the BBC to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, to avoid being complicit in Israel's ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others say the contest 'artwashes' Israel's human rights record, including the killing of at least 205 Palestinians by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip since protests began at the end of March, and the passing of the Jewish nation state law which formalises an apartheid system in Israeli law. Also supporting the #BoycottEurovision2019 protest were the Stop The War Coalition, Palestinian Forum UK and Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA).

The protest was opposed by a small group of Zionists who were shouting hate slogans against Hamas and some of whom made unfriendly gestures towards me as I photographed them. I stayed back a little more than usual in case they spat at me.
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Together for Climate Justice

London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
The Statue of Taking Liberties at the head of the Climate march to Downing St
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Several thousand marched through London from a Campaign against Climate Change led rally outside the Polish Embassy where grave doubts were expressed about next week's UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, which are being sponsored by leading firms in Poland's fossil fuel industry.

Speakers, including Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, Anna Gretton from Extinction Rebellion, UCU Vice President Nita Sanghera, Neil Keveren of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Allen from Zero Carbon Britain, Beatriz Ratton of Brazilian Women Against Fascism, Asad Rehman of War on Want, and Richard Roberts, fracking direct action campaigner whose recent prison sentence for lorry surfing at Preston New Road was overturned and was released from jail with a conditional discharge expressed solidarity with protesters in Poland and stressed the urgent need to cut CO2 and methane emissions.

At the end of the rally we were all taught to say a couple of slogans in Polish, including 'Razem dla klimatu' (Together for the Climate) which appeared on a number of placards, and the rather less pronounceable Polish for 'Time to limit to 1.5', as well as for 'Climate, jobs, justice!'.

The march then set off, going through the centre of London to Downing at where there was a further rally with speeches from Labour MP Barry Gardiner,
Liz Hutchins of Friends of the Earth, a woman from Frack Free United and a final speech by Claire James of Campaign against Climate Change who introduced a speaker on behalf of the Global South, where people are already dying because of climate change.
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Stop Universal Credit day of action

Camden Town, London. Sat 1 Dec 2018
Some stood with banners while others handed out leaflets to the many passing by
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Protesters in Camden Town handed out leaflets in one of many nationwide protests in a day of action called by Unite Community to stop Universal Credit.

They want an end to the long wait before claimants receive money, for applications to be at job centres as well as online, better help when the system fails people, direct payments to landlords to avoid rent arrears and evictions and an end to benefit sanctions for all claimants.

For those in the many areas that have been moved on to Universal Credit in the previous week, the move will hit them particularly hard, with the normal six week waiting time meaning they and their families will have no money over Christmas. UC has created incredible hardship, pushing many into extreme poverty and destitution, making them reliant on food banks and street food distributions, greatly increasing the number of homeless and rough sleepers. Thanks to Tory policies, more than 120,000-plus homeless children in Britain will spend Christmas in hostels and B&Bs, many without the means or facilities to provide a Christmas meal.

Some have said that UC is a part of a "state euthanasia" system for the poor, with academic estimates that it and other benefit cuts and sanctions since the 2010 elections having caused 110,000 early deaths, including many suicides. A cross party committee has called for its rollout to be halted until improvements are made, but the government has dismissed virtually all criticism of the system, making only insignificant changes.

While the government's policies have led to a huge growth in the number of foodbanks and the demand on them, the only Conservative response has been to encourage MPs to make festive visits to them with donations for publicity photographs, something that has sickened

The main banner here points out that it hands more financial power to male claimants making it a misogynist's dream, forcing women in violent relationships into greater dependency on their violent male partners.
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London Images

December 2018

Oxford Circus with Christmas decorations
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The usual selection of images taken as I moved around London on my way to and from events.


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