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……..

Lost Landscapes

When I was about 11, the same year that Elivs shuffled off his mortal coil, I went to stay with my Grandparents who lived in the deepest darkest Aberdeenshire. It was summer and warm, but my grandparents wanted me, and my sister, to be healthy so took us to the seaside.

They chose to try out the Tarlair Swimming Pool a fantastic Art Deco outdoor swimming pool which was filled by the incoming tide. My memory was that it was bloody, bloody cold – OK I should have tried to remember it as a beautiful Art Deco experience in a beautiful Scottish cove. But, truth be told it was just cold, cold, cold.

Today the site is derelict and utterly beautiful.

Tarlair Swimming Pool Tarlair Swimming Pool

Tarlair Swimming Pool Tarlair Swimming Pool

Tralair Swimming Pool

Anthony Gormley – Caged

As you know I am a bit of an Anthony Gormley fan. Today however, I am a sad Anthony Gormley fan. I found the Gormley that is housed in the Tate Modern on the South Bank.

After having seen the Gormley’s at Margate and Folkestone its like seeing a Tiger in a zoo. It was caged, bound and emasculated, a mere reminder of what the other Gormley are like.

If you haven’t seen the others, in the ‘wild’ so to speak, then you won’t be impressed and will probably not understand what all the fuss is about.

AG1

Community Garden in the City

When I was a politician I was responsible for open spaces, allotments and community gardens in Reading where I live.

The gardens and allotments were always very serious things and redolent of hard work and graft. No fun at all seemed to be allowed. Contrast this with the  Nomadic Community Garden near Brick Lane. It is a wild place full of cucumbers and opera houses, the smell of spliffs glowing in the sunshine and mad artworks.

With its composting toilets it has some of the same smells as the Calais Jungle camp, which I shot last year, but none of the desperation.

So if you are in Brick Lane break out of its plastic pretend East End, ignore the siren calls of hipster Shoreditch and relax in the bliss that is the Nomadic Community Garden.

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If you have got this far with the set. This last picture is my favourite, not because it is the best shot but the juxtapositioning of the sign and the railway infrastructure behind says something about the place.

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How Green Is My Valley

I have just come back from my favourite place, Llangiwg Church,  which lies above Pontardawe in South Wales. It has views in one direction North to the Brecon Beacons and Pen Y Fan and to the South to Swansea.

It is peaceful and calming, with the sounds of nature in the background. I find it a place where I can recharge and reconnect with myself. In a time of chaos, change and uncertainty I can stroll in the church yard and be at peace. I cannot explain to you why, perhaps it is because my family make up a large percentage of the graves, perhaps it is because it is somewhere I have been going since I was a baby. I don’t really know.

I can only recommend it to you as place of peace and a place of restoration.

This is a picture I took last year.

Llangwig Church

This is a view I took of the view towards Pen Y Fan

Pen-Y- Fan in the distance

This is a view of the farm where my Aunt lived when I was a child. Its about 2 miles from the church.

Gellilwca Fawe Farm B/W

This is a pic of my father outside the church

Alex

Another shot from last year

Llangwig Church

A shot from 2014

St Ciwg's Day Llangiwg Llangiwg Church

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Finally a family pic of my father at his family farm just below the church in the 1950s

Alex_and_Dan

Once More From the Wilderness

Another photo from my trip to Dungeness. The first day that I was there, the wind was blowing a hooley and you couldn’t see out to sea, or at least you couldn’t see any ships.

I went the next day, secretly to get a cheeky train ride in, and the wind had dropped to the extent that you didn’t feel as if you were about to take off.

The change in the weather led to this shot.

Sailing by

Winter Wilderness

I have just come back from a photography trip to Dungeness in Kent. It is a wild cold place in the winter. Despite it being officially a desert, it rained, blew and looked like it was part of Newfoundland or Iceland.

It is startlingly beautiful. I am working on the pictures but here is my favourite so far.

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