Posts Tagged ‘London’

The Independent on Sunday Review tearsheet

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The Independent on Sunday ran a shortened version (just 1000 words out of 6000) of my story The Englishman and the Eel last week. Missed it as I’m away. Here’s the spread…

 

Meditation Flash Mob…

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

I’ve mentioned before about people finding private space for themselves in busy cities so here was a nice little thing – a meditation flash mob – perhaps a couple of hundred people or so came to sit by the stone lion in the great Court of the British Museum on Friday evening… shame I was photographing rather than being a part of it as it looked rather interesting…

 

UK - London - A man performs qi gong exercises as part of a meditation flash mob in the Great Court of the British Museum

 

UK - London - People taking part in a meditation flash mob in the Great Court of the British Museum

 

UK - London - A woman taking part in a meditation flash mob in the Great Court of the British Museum

Dickensian Delhi

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

 

I visited the Dickens exhibition at the Museum of London yesterday – a really powerful evocation of the writer and his times.

What always struck me about Dickens was his ability to convey the despair and misery that the city around him housed: no stranger to debt, his past was marked by the fear of slipping back into poverty. I think that the exhibition gave me a very apt adjective to describe the dark underside of a city that I have worked in so much, namely Delhi. Perhaps all societies lurching through such painful Capitalist development are like this – but certainly Delhi is Dickensian in its mercilessness and its cruelty. The lack of a safety net and not-so-subtle machinations of caste mean that the people who produce the city’s wealth by selling their labour are completely at the mercy of the vagaries of the Market and the violence of the street. In a similar fashion to Dickens’ time they must struggle against a whole moral code that tells them they are nothing if they have no status. I’ve mentioned here before a slim volume of reportage and writing from those at the bottom of the dark underbelly of this metropolis called Trickster City and the more that I looked at the exhibition yesterday, the more I thought of Delhi.

Dickens’ “slime and ooze of the Thames” is the realm of the boy who picks bits of detritus out of the poisoned Yamuna River on a pathetic raft of polystyrene and rags. Budi Lal, pouring through other people’s filth and rubbish and ignored by all except the snarling dogs and his debtors is Boffin, the Rag Picker from Our Mutual Friend. The men burning plastic bags could be from the slum in Bleak House; Tom-All-Alone’s.

All of them would recognise Victorian London.

 

 

India - New Delhi - A young scavenger on a raft, beneath the road bridge across the Yamuna River by the Kudsia Ghat, New Delhi. Scavengers trawl the filth of the river to find objects to sell. The river is so polluted that it can no longer support life, however a community still live and work on it's banks.

 

India - New Delhi - Buddhi Lal, 30 works before dawn collecting refuse to recycle and resell. Known as 'rag-picking' he can make perhaps Rs150-200 a day and is often chased and attacked by stray dogs because of the smell of his work

 

India - Delhi - Destitute men gather around a fire made from refuse and plastic bags to try and keep warm. It is estimated that around 100000 people are homeless in the city

 

 

The Englishman and the eel text

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

As promised, I’ve published the piece about eels and London’s peculiar love of them in the Writing section of my website.

The direct link is here.

 

UK - London - Eels in a barrel in the yard at Cooke's Eel and Pie shop in Hoxton

 

 

The Englishman and the eel

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Although I already featured a tearsheet of a recent assignment on London’s pie and mash shops (see here), I thought I’d take the opportunity to show some of the images that didn’t make the magazine edit. Although I’m certainly no interiors photographer, I’ve always been intrigued by the survival of period details in these shops – a palimpsest of past London lives. Crucially, none of the images that Effilee featured showed the interior of the Manze shop in Walthamstow market. I thought this had the best architectural details although, dating from the 1930’s, it wasn’t the oldest.

I saw the piece (and my accompanying text – a link that I will post soon) almost as a bit of visual archeology. Like the long closed Jewish Soup Kitchen that I photographed at the start of my career (see here) these places are disappearing year after year. As I’ve said before, the corporate, identikit British high street is a poorer place for the passing of traditional cafes and all manner of independent shops.

Whatever you’re preconceptions of this food – and I guarantee that they are likely wrong – I urge you to try it even if it’s just an excuse to rediscover something of the past that for now, is still with us.

 

UK - London - A customer eats a plate of eels, pie and mash in Cookes' Eel, Pie and mash shop in Hoxton

 

UK - London - A plate of stewed eels and mash at Manze's Pie and Mash shop in Tower Bridge Road

 

UK - London - An antique flower pot (with a typically 1930's aspidistra...), a broom and an umbrella by a door at Manze's Pie and mash shop in Walthamstow market. The interior is Grade 2 listed

 

UK - London - UK - London - Original tile details at Manze's Eel, Pie and Mash shop in Walthamstow

 

UK - London - The interior of Manze's Pie and Mash shop in Walthamstow market showing the rare pressed tin tile ceiling

 

UK - London - A pre-decimal cash register at Manze's Eel, Pie and Mash shop in Walthamstow

 

UK - London - Original tiles and a boxing poster from the 1970's in Cookes' Eel, Pie and Mash shop in London Fields

 

UK - London - UK - London - The interior of Cookes' Eel, Pie and Mash shop in London Fields

 

UK - London - A man eats a plate of eels, pie and mash at Manze's Eel, Pie and Mash on Tower Bridge Road, the oldest in London dating from 1902

British Summer Time

Monday, August 1st, 2011

UK - London - Bathing Belles in period costume at Tooting Bec Lido

 

 

 

 

No Pasaran

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

This Saturday, July 2nd 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and events will be held at memorials all across the UK. This annual commemoration honours the 2,500 men and women from the British Isles who served in the International Brigades as soldiers or medics, of whom 526 were killed in Spain. They were among 35,000 volunteers from around the world who rallied to the Spanish Republic as it tried to put down the fascist-backed military revolt.

In the London ceremony on the South Bank, I believe that two surviving veterans plan to attend. They are David Lomon, who was captured with other members of the British Battalion during fighting in Aragón in the spring of 1938 and spent six months in the notorious prison camp of San Pedro de Cardeñas, near Burgos, and Thomas Watters, who served in the Madrid-based Scottish Ambulance Unit. I hope I can be there.

In 1996 I wrote and photographed a piece for the Independent Magazine about the veterans of that war.

Here are three images that I found from my archive.

No Pasaran

 

UK - London - Alf, Spanish Civil War veteran

UK - London - Michael Economides, Spanish Civil War veteran

UK - London - Max Collins, Spanish Civil War veteran

World Refugee Day

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

UK - London - A refugee child from Uganda in the offices of the Refugee Arrivals Project at Heathrow Airport

What is the colour of the Wind?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

UK - London - A tree swaying in the wind

India’s ‘private’ parks

Friday, December 11th, 2009

It’s with some relief that I read today in the Times of India that proposals to institute identity cards and entry fees to Bangalore parks have been scrapped.

The extraordinary idea, the brainchild of Horticulture Minister, Umesh Katti was to restrict entry to two of the ‘Garden City’s’ finest public spaces, Lalbagh and Cubbon Park to those that could afford, as he put it, the ‘paltry sum’ of Rs.200/-“. Further, identity cards would only be issued to those that had been ‘vetted’ over security concerns.

Lalbagh (Red Garden) is around two hundred and fifty years old. Cubbon Park, a British creation, is a century old. Both are a counterweight to the modernist, business friendly theme park that are the suburbs of modern Bangalore. Like most Indian parks they are populated by walkers, joggers, lovers, hawkers and the poor, sometimes untidily sleeping where they can. Oh, and Bangalore has a Laughter Club (a very Indian get-together where people laugh in groups to improve their health). Subversives all. Dangerous, anti-social elements that need checking and vetting and searching.

The case is interesting as it touches something that I have been photographing in Delhi for a while – Indian public space. Because cities are so crowded, public spaces become part of the personal, private sphere – a microcosm of Indian society. India has a profound love of gardens and greenery. I have written previously that all the major religions of this country have in some part a great reverence of nature – whether the gardens of the Mughals or the significance of the Bodhi tree for Buddhists or the garlanded offerings of Hindus. To privatise such public spaces for spurious ‘security concerns’ seems to me to be a very profound political statement. As Bhargavi Rao and Leo Saldanha of the local ‘Environment Support Group’ said. “It is an effort to showcase Bangalore as an elite, investment-friendly city where public spaces are out of bounds for local residents, especially the poor.”

Arundhati Roy has recently commented that,

“… the era of the Free Market has led to the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in India – the secession of the middle and upper classes to a country of their own… where they merge with the rest of the world’s elite”.

The poor and those that don’t quite fit into a corporate strategy are an untidy blemish and need to be excluded.

In fact it is entirely analogous to what is happening in much of the Western (well, read the US and the UK) world. Britain is the most spied-on country in the world in terms of CCTV and legislation passed over the last twelve years has meant that fundamental freedoms that we took for granted – like being able to photograph in public where we pleased – are no longer guaranteed. Extensions to pre-charge detention means that suspects in the UK can expect to be detained for periods exceeding those of other comparable democracies. As Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian yesterday, since 1997, the UK government has created more than 3000 new offences. 1,472 at the last count were imprisonable. You can be jailed for not having a licence for a church concert, smoking in a public place, selling a grey squirrel, trans-shipping unlicensed fish, or disobeying a health and safety inspector. All underpinned by a profit motive for private companies who have interests in surveillance, security operatives and prisons. If we make citizens afraid of each other they will be more pliable: I know photographers in the UK that have admitted to self-censoring in public. Taking pictures of children, of property, of the police are now likely to lead to confrontation with authority. A company has already found a way to ‘monetise’ this by paying ordinary people to watch CCTV footage and report anything ‘suspicious’.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in the UK no longer requires authorities to have reasonable suspicion to search people for such subversive activities as photographing on the streets. We are all suspects that have to be monitored. All the time. For our own good. Usually by private security. For profit.

Soon there will be nothing public left of all our public spaces.

India - New Delhi - a bench in the early morning mist in Nehru Park

India - New Delhi - a bench in the early morning mist in Nehru Park

India - New Delhi - A yoga class in Lodi Gardens in front of the Bara Gumbad Tomb

India - New Delhi - A yoga class in Lodi Gardens in front of the Bara Gumbad Tomb

India - New Delhi - A couple in the grounds of the Purana Qila, New Delhi, India. Such parks are often the only place where young lovers can meet away from their parents and families

India - New Delhi - A couple in the grounds of the Purana Qila, New Delhi, India. Such parks are often the only place where young lovers can meet away from their parents and families

India - New Delhi - Men play cards on a traffic island in New Delhi, India whilst one of their friends sleep. The traffic islands in the centre of the city often have manicured lawns and are well cared for. Many people sleep here at night but in the daytime they are used as small parks by workers

India - New Delhi - Men play cards on a traffic island in New Delhi, India whilst one of their friends sleep. The traffic islands in the centre of the city often have manicured lawns and are well cared for. Many people sleep here at night but in the daytime they are used as small parks by workers

UK - Cirencester - A private Security Guard examines the licence plate of a vehicle outside a Gated Community,

UK - Cirencester - A private Security Guard examines the licence plate of a vehicle outside a Gated Community,

UK - London - A Private Security Operative patrols South London council estate

UK - London - A Private Security Operative patrols South London council estate