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.
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
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……..
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 MP 2017
Owen Jones 2017 (Again)
Sir Keir Starmer MP and Matt Rodda MP 2017
Chukka Umunna MP 2016
Jonathan Aitken 2014
Diane Abbot MP 2014
Lord Neil Kinnock 2014
Lord David Blunkett 2014
Paris Lees 2013
Owen Jones 2013
Lord John Prescot 2010 – Reading
Eddie Izzard 2010 – Reading
Rev. Jessie Jackson 2008 – A long time ago and a bit soft
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So there were the odd Union Flag they were out numbered 20 or 30 to 1.
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.
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.
The Central Station pub near Kings Cross is an amazing little venue. I really like going to Vicious Von Vixen’s cabaret and burlesque show. The quality of the show is always very very high and the atmosphere is totally electric. I have been a few times and always say that I will leave as soon as the show is over but I always seem to be on the last train home from Paddington after the show.