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London becomes a fortress

Terrorism is a fact of life, well a fact of my life anywhere. When I was 7 the IRA blew up the toy-shop I used to buy Action Men in, which was next to one of the pubs that they attacked in Guildford Surrey. When I was a teenager, I remember going to see the broken windows at Harrods following the bomb that the IRA placed there in 1981 or maybe 1982.

In the 1990’s I saw French soldiers hassling a man of North African appearance after a series of terrorist outrageous in Paris. At the same time I remember the complete disappearance of public waste bins after the IRA, again, had taken to leaving fire-bombs in the railway station bins. London’s streets really suffered after these outrages, the streets were filthy.

I have been at the edge of latest bought of terrorism, when I was at Edgware Road tube station 2 hrs before the 7/7 explosions and then had a really difficult time trying to reach my darling sister who worked in the City at the time.

So, it should really come as no surprise to see anti-terrorism measures around London. But, but, but, despite seeing anti-terrorism measures on nearly every London Bridge over the Thames, I was terribly shocked and stunned to see anti-terrorism, anti-suicide and anti-wild driving barriers around Leicester Square.

Concrete Blocks Leicester Sq

The blocks are somehow beautiful, somehow terrifying, somehow stunning. It makes me really sad to see them.

For me, Leicester Square is a centre of fun. When I was 18 I went to see my first X-Rated film there, Risky Business – Tom Cruise (It’s really not that racy), I have been clubbing in the Square, met friends in the Square and bought theatre tickets in it to. There are also pretty nice public loos there too. Leicester Square is also the spiritual home to The Burly Photographer. I have shot Burlesque Idol umpteen times at the Hippodrome Casino. I have probably taken something like 20,000 images there. To have the Square barrackaded like a fort seems almost obscene.

It is obscene, but it is logical

Concrete Blocks Leicester Sq

But – lets look at this another way round.

Leicester Square is a centre of entertainment, it is fun messy, smelly (sometimes) and the place where fun begins. We should want to defend the ability to have fun, if we cannot have fun, have a laugh, get pissed and make fools of ourselves, then terrorism has completely won.

So we have to defend it – the fortress is unfortunate – but it has to be done – Es Liebe Madness……..

Girl in a Headscarf

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine said that she was interested in becoming a model and asked whether I would take some shots of her so that she could practice.

We played around with poses and decided to do a daylight shoot without the aid of flash.

One of the ideas we played with was the use of a headscarf, I think that I had recently been given a book of photos by Steve McCurry and was inspired by his headscarf photos. His photo of an Afghani woman uses a red headscarf, which we didn’t have.

But, Fede – who was modelling that day, managed to pull something quite special off that day.

Woman in a Headscarf
Woman in a Headscarf
Woman in a Headscarf
Woman in a Headscarf

Guitar on the Street

Last week, or maybe a couple of weeks ago I went to see the Don McCullin exhibition at the Tate Britain – Again. If you haven’t been you really should go.

Anyway, I was feeling inspired by McCullin’s people and street photographs. I was wandering in the streets behind the Tate looking for a Boris Bike to take me to the Extinction Rebellion demo and I heard a guitar playing.

I thought I would investigate and I met Francois, who was happy to let me take his picture while he played. I hope that I have done him and his playing justice.

Francois With Guitar behind the Tate
Francois With Guitar behind the Tate

Politicians I’ve Shot

Hopefully that got your attention. I was thinking about the photographs I have taken and realise that I have taken pictures of some of those that had led us in the early part of the Century and a few other ‘famous’ politicians in the last couple of years.

So here’s a few of the pics I have taken of those that have led us, influenced us or sought to lead us.

David Lammy 2018

Angela Rayner MP 2018

Angela Rayner in Woodley

Angela Rayner MP 2017

No To DUP Coalition Protest

Owen Jones 2017 (Again)

No To DUP Coalition Protest

Sir Keir Starmer MP and Matt Rodda MP 2017

Keir Starmer MP and Matt Rodda MP

Chukka Umunna MP 2016

Chuka Umunna

Jonathan Aitken 2014

Jonathan Aitken

Diane Abbot MP 2014

Mark Duggan Vigil Tottenham

Lord Neil Kinnock 2014

Neil Kinnock in Reading

Lord David Blunkett 2014

David Blunkett in Reading

Paris Lees 2013

#dailyhatemail

Owen Jones 2013

#dailyhatemail

Lord John Prescot 2010 – Reading

Eddie Izzard 2010 – Reading

Rev. Jessie Jackson 2008 – A long time ago and a bit soft

Rev Jessie Jackson in Reading 2009

Fab Burlesque In Harlow

OK I know its not a very catchy title, but I shot a show in Harlow recently, the Cuetease charity show and it was amazing

Not only were the performances astounding, but it was the first place that I had seen the audience dancing with the performers when the music came on. Harlow audiences rock.

If you are Essex based, keep an eye out for Cuetease show next year. its brilliant. The performers are amazing but the audience is something worth seeing too.

So what did you miss? You missed this

Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow


Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow
Cue Tease Burlesque Harlow

Occupy- Do you remember

Do you remember when we thought that occupation could change the world?

In 2011 the City was occupied, Billy Bragg played an impromptu gig in front of St Pauls and we thought that there was a chance that the world might change. The Arab Spring had just happened and there was hope in the air.

Ok the Arab Spring turned very sour, and Occupy has changed the City not one jot, but it is sometimes nice to simply remind ourselves that there are people who were willing to make a stand and willing to hope for a different future.

Below are some pictures from that year of Occupation in the City, with 2 sites, one infront of St Pauls, another on Finsbury Square and also of the smaller Occupy Nottingham.

Tahrir Square London


Occupation Times
Heated Discussion observed
Monopoly

Finsbury Square

Capitalism Isn't Working
Tax Havens are Immoral

Nottingham

Occupy Nottingham
Occupy Nottingham

Extinction Rebellion

Tahrir Square London

In 2011 I stood outside St Paul’s Cathedral where the Occupy Movement had set up camp in the forecourt. It was a time of hope, seminars and vibrant discussion. The Arab Spring was happening and revolution was in the air.

Yesterday, I had a slight sense of dejavu when I took my camera to Marble Arch to shoot the Extinction Rebellion occupation of the roundabout and the top end of Oxford St in London.

Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch

The occupation was ordered, happy, a little sweaty after having been in the sun for a sunny Easter Weekend. It was full of happy young people arguing about whether they should end their occupation and come back next week or continue the occupation.

Each workshop was accompanied by posters and tents, then there were the free hugs and t-shirts. You can see the full set of pictures – by clicking the picture below.

Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch

Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch

Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch

Of course there were Drag Queens

Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion Occupation Marble Arch

Its been a turbulent year

Apparently, there is a Chinese proverb that says – may you live in turbulent times. Or maybe it doesn’t but the last 12 months has been a solid demonstration-fest as the country splits and disagrees about everything. I realised today that I have covered umpteen demos, marches and protests.

Its only March and I have already been to 2 major demos – who knows how many more there will be this year.

I guess the demo year really started with the Anti-Trump demo

Trump Demo July 18
Trump Demo July 18
Trump Demo July 18

Then on the next day there was the Pro-Trump Demo

Pro-Trump Demo

Pro-Trump Demo
Pro-Trump Demo

And to add to the mix there was the Anti-Pro-Trump Demo

Union Anti Racism Demo July 18
Union Anti Racism Demo July 18

Then to add into the mix on the same day there was the Anti-Fa Anti-Trump Demo

Anti-Fa Demo July 18
Anti-Fa Demo July 18
Anti-Fa Demo July 18

And then when you thought that this had all been too exciting there was the People’s March anti-Brexit Demo

People's Vote March London Nov 18
People's Vote March London Nov 18
People's Vote March London Nov 18

It all went quiet over Christmas and then the demonstration anger kicked off again in March with the People’s March Mk2

People's March - 23/3/19
People's March - 23/3/19
People's March - 23/3/19

And finally – and only so far. Was the Pro-Brexit demo on the 29th March.

Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations

29th March – Not Quite Brexit Day

Today, the 29th March was supposed to be Brexit Day. Except, because of 3 failed Meaningful Votes, or perhaps votes with no meaning, in Parliament Brexit has been deferred – and/or cancelled.

Last week I shot the People’s Vote March so this week I decided to go to the Brexit supporting demo in Parliament Square. The People’s Vote march was reportedly 1 million people, the Brexit demo, several thousand.

The demos were materially different, the Remain, full of families and young children. The Brexit demo, full of angry (generally) men. I was frightened, I have to say, there was a definite sense that the media and photographers were not particularly welcome.

The demos filling the square and the bottom of Whitehall were in fact 2 demos. First a Tommy Robinson Brexit Demo and a Vote Leave demo. Plus there was a rather bizarre French Demo in favour of Brexit. The Vote Leave Demo had a number of speakers I had heard of including the arch priest of Brexit – Nigel Farage.

Here’s a selection of pics from the demo – you will want to se the full set which you can see here https://flic.kr/s/aHsmCqFogC

Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations


Brexit Day - Demonstrations

Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations
Brexit Day - Demonstrations

No Sign of Flags

I have just come back from shooting the People’s Vote Demo in London on Saturday. Normally, I would blog about the wacky, snarky, sarcastic and funny placards that I saw. There probably will be a post about that however I wanted to highlight something that I noticed and have noticed at various Remainer demos.

Where are the Union Jacks?

When you go to a Remainer demo it is clear that they are for Europe by the number of EU flags that they carry.

People's March - 23/3/19
Remain Demonstrators in Hyde Park
People's March - 23/3/19
Remain Protestor in Park Lane
People's March - 23/3/19
Remain demonstrator in Park Lane

So there were the odd Union Flag they were out numbered 20 or 30 to 1.

People's March - 23/3/19
A lone patriot on the People\s March Demo

Why is this? When I look at myself, I realise that I really don’t like Brexit, but I am very proud of being British, English and I really love my flag. Many years ago I used to go to an American/International School and would wear a Union Flag badge on my jacket.

But if I compare this with the right-wing demo that I covered last year, you see a sea of Union Flags or St George’s Flags.

Pro-Trump Demo
EDL demo 2018
Pro-Trump Demo
EDL Supporters 2018

I absolutely disagree with the sentiments of the posters, however there is a definite pride in the Union Flag or St George’s Flag. Why is this?

Why do the Remainers feel uncomfortable with showing the Union Flag?

Why are the centre and left uncomfortable with carrying the flag?

I know I am proud of being a Brit and have no fear of standing under the flag. Yes Britain, isn’t. the most worthy nation in the world, however in the Remainers not being willing to stand under the flag, they do rather make the point of the Brexiteers about being more interested in Europe than their own nation.