Disunited Kingdom

The angst about Brexit continues. The struggle to make sense what the hell is going on is becoming a little too much to bear. I was in Parliament Square in September taking pics on the day that the MPs took control of the agenda, just before they forced several defeats on the new PM.

As usual there was a selection of amusing and scatty posters with just a minimum of argy bargy between for and against.

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……..

Brick Lane Posters

A trip to Brick Lane can sometimes be a trip into Hipster Hell, as you wander through the stalls and tourists. The one thing that makes the day a real pleasure is the selection of gonzo posters from artists like Subdude London and others. Brick Lane//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Brick Lane//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Brick Lane</scripBrick Lane//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jst> //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js  

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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I was walking through Liverpool St Railway station and I remembered that there is a statue that commemorates the arrival of the Kindertransport.

The statue is of a little boy and a girl. Today as I passed I noticed that someone had put a red rose in the hand of the little girl. She is a memory of another time when children (and their parents) were in danger and someone had the gumption to overcome bureaucratic stupidities to at least give the children a chance of life.
I wonder what benefits the refugee children in Calais and lost on the Mainland of Europe could bring us today?

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Go here to read a bit more about the Kindertransport