the first soho pride held last year was a great success, and this year's event followed the same pattern. street closures, restuarant tables in the roadway, djs and loud sounds, people out to eat, drink, dance and generally have a good time.
even in mid-afternoon, the streets were beginning to get really packed, especially outside the more popular gay bars and around the club djs.
really it was one big party, and a party that catered for almost all tastes except in music, which was uniformly relentless club beats. perhaps a pity that the jazz on the streets events had beat a retreat to carnaby street (surely forty years behind us with flower power.)
after a while i began to feel my age, and escaped to the underground and
home for a quiet and leisurely alfresco dinner with a few glasses of white
august 6 was the 59th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on
hiroshima, the first act of the cold war. (it was also the day the tate
gallery decided to demonstrate it didn't understand opera, sending singers
to serenade the traffic at vauxhall cross, and linda told me to go and photograph
it, so i did. pretty boring. i also went to take a look at the river, which
was supposedly greatly damaged by a hefty load of sewage during our recent
cloudburst, the system not being able to cope with the very high flow. at
vauxhall on friday it looked and smelt pretty normal)
back in august 1945japan was already ready to surrender and the allies (or at least the usa) knew this. they wanted to show russia that they had a weapon that could be used should russia step out of line. hiroshima and nagasaki were annihilated as a gesture to stalin (uncle jo as some newspapers liked to refer to him then.)
since then we have had a continuous campaign of lies and deceptions over nuclear weapons. it continues to this day with the ridiculous pretense that we have an independent nuclear weapon, and we are being softened up for the arrival of 'mini-nukes', smaller but even more dangerous nuclear weapons.
the anniversary was commemorated at tavistock square by hampstead and london region campaign for nuclear disarmament. those present included the former labour leader michael foot and tony benn, as well as the oldest member of the labour party as well as an american visitor from US Labor agains the war.
tavistock square has a number of interesting memorials, including a fine statue of gandhi, and a cherry tree planted in memeory of the victims past and present of the atomic bombs dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki on august 6 and 9, 1945. the ceremony was a reminder that is anyone is still looking for weapons of mass destruction they are present in america; any "war on terror" should perhaps start against the country which used these weapons to devasting effect without any compunction in 1945.
the event was chaired by local MP jeremy corbyn, and speakers included
ken savage of greater london pensioners association, sophie bolt, chair
of london cnd, darren johnson, gla green party leader and tony benn. mordechai
vanunu had been invited to come from jerusalem where he is under house arrest,
but was prevented from coming by the israeli government. there were also
songs from the workers' music associatin choir.
saturday i spent wandering around london, mainly getting to things too
early. i did manage to take a few pictures of a romanian group performing
at bernie spain garden, before leaving for trafalgar square which had been
taken over for the final event of a two week 'soul in the city' mission
for young people.
the fountains in the square were full of young people, mainly girls, waving in ecstacy to rather tame gospel music in a slickly managed event. as i was photographing a woman was praying out loud into my left ear, filling it with sycophantic nonsense, but otherwise there seemed to be little real fervour.
i went back to the romanians, where at least there was urquell pilsner
on sale (its advertising says 'in the beginning there was darkness, then
in 1842 we found the light.)
sunday i went to the dogs, and the dogs were in dulwich for a 'fun dog
show'. i'm not a dog lover, but it was a surprisingly good-natured event,
with only a little snarling and barking, mainly by one of the entrants who
lost it when her dog was not shortlisted by the judge. unfortunately i was
over the other side of the ring for this. there were also some pierrots,
don't ask why, but they were at least reasonably tuneful rubbish.
the heat told on dogs and me, and i left before the end, heading yet again
for trafalgar square and some very pleasant indian dancing, dandia in the
square, with indian dance students showing us how to dance the traditional
dandia raas or stick dancing. having two left feet as well as a hefty camera
bag i didn't join in, but it was a pleasant spectacle, with some spectacularly
decorated costumes, and even the stewards were human.
ok, so hastings isn't london, but it is only a short day trip down to the coast, and many of the people down there with me to watch the carnival were from london. hastings old town carnival was a traditional english carnival, but now is more eclectic, but still with relatively little input from our more recently arrived ethnic groups. being hastings there were a few references to the events of 1066. there was a well-supported float for the hastings/sierra leone friendship group, but we also had king henry viii, noahs ark, pirates, a tropical island, fairy tales, chicago-style gangsters and more.
i'm not a great fan of majorettes, but there was certainly some virtuoso
baton twirling on display, including one lady who needed a lorry to carry
her prizes. judging from the pictures of previous years there was perhaps
a little less zany invention this year than before, but it was a good-natured
event, and the centre of the old town was crowded to watch it. rather than
battle it out through the streets i adjourned to the kings head for a couple
of pints, only to find the carnival was still making its way round as i
made mine to the station.
although we don't seem to have much in the way of english carnivals left in london, we now have the carnaval del pueblo billed as the largest latin-american festival in europe (though i suspect others share this claim.)
i photographed the procession getting ready to start around the elephant,
then as it started down walworth road towards the festival in burgess park.
like most of the rest of the country, london had a bit of rain, with the occasional torrential shower. but saturday turned out fine for the carnival parade in shoreditch, starting from the park and going round through hoxton market. apart from the shire horses from wandsworth brewery it was very much a community-based event, and had obviously generated a lot of interest and effort.
part of the shoreditch festival, its the first parade there for many years,
and seemed to me to be a great success. some of the kids really loved being
photographed, and i was pleased i was using digital and didn't have to worry
about using up film.
i left the parade as it left hoxton market, and ran for a bus to points
south, going to bernie spain gardens where there was a south african festival.
the music was great, but the wine was disappointing, really a waste of the
chance to show what south africa has to offer, and too expensive for the
very little glasses that were on offer. i had to go before some of the more
interesting sounding groups made the stage, but there were some nice dancers,
and the audience was starting to join in.
back in staines we had shakespeare's least politically correct play, the
taming of the shrew, playing in the open air at the lammas. it was a spirited
performance, though the amplification put it rather too much at the same
dynamic level. in the interval and after the play had finished a couple
of dancers came round a waved torches. it was interesting for around 15
seconds but extremely tedious for the whole performance. better to close
your eyes, because at least they did it to some decent music. then at last
came the fireworks. a pity i forgot to take my tripod.
sunday was disappointing. two demonstrations i'd been told about either didn't happen at all or were so late i'd given up and gone away by the time i did. there are quite a few things like this, people publicise events, then change their mind, or sometimes they simply get the day wrong in the annoucements. i wandered into speakers corner, to find the usual guys there, mainly religious nutters, but at least a couple with a sense of humour. my vote goes to the olive oil party; we are superior to the americans because we don't need viagra, we have olive oil, though i wasn't quite clear what you need to do with it.
then i went to trafalgar square, to see 'fast forward',but it seemed to be run by bbc radio london, and was bad news, too much agitated media-hype like silly kids tv programmes on saturday mornings. fast forward really was a washout, and failed to live up to the billing. shoreditch parade the previous day had shown what people and communities can do and the real excitement and involvement it can generate; this was more about a few people on the make, exploiting the arts establishment's guilt about race. there were some rather clever gymnasts performing in five hoops - 'olympic rings' - hung from a frame in front of the national gallery, but there are only so many things you can do with a hoop.
forward to da future was more interesting, with lots of kids in a dance
performance, the result of a dance summer school. but the woman dancer going
on about meeting a man who didn't turn up and texting on mobile phones was
ultimate trivia; wasting her dance talent with inadequate material. i made
for some real music at the second day of the south africa festival on the
i like to make good use of my travelcards, so rainham, the last station out of fenchurch st in zone 6 is a good destination. i pointed the brompton first to purfleet, to take a look at the state of play on the high-speed rail link, and also a new development in the old chalkpits, then on towards the dartford bridge.
the bridge act obliges the operators to transport cycles and pedestrians across free of charge, and i cycled up the path towards it to claim this right, before changing my mind and deciding i didn't want to go to the other side. instead i took the new road through the west thurrock marshes industrial area and on to st clements church, now a nature sanctuary, in the middle of a detergent factory.
it's a quiet and pleasant place to eat sandwiches, though the smell of
the perfuming agent is pervasive. there i planned a route largely along
side roads, cycle paths and footpaths to upminster, taking in chafford hundred,
south ockenden and belhus park and woods. it made a pleasant ride, though
i had to make a few detours, and the b isn't too stable on slimy mud, so
some paths made for interesting riding, with the added pleasures of bramble
thorns and nettles.
i'm still not sure what the river cultures festival was about, apart from a terrible pun (funquay beach party), other than publicity for some of the organisers. it took me to west india quay, next to canary wharf. while there i took a look at the museum in docklands. it would be a good place to spend a few hours on an indifferent day. if you are a londoner or visiting london and want to know something of how and why the city was formed and is like it is, don't miss it.
i was keen to get out and photograph the beach, its punch and judy show,
the camel, moving beach huts, incredible spouting men and more. too tame
to be really surreal.
i don't know whose wallet it was in the hand i caught as it reached into my pocket in cambridge gardens, but it wasn't mine. it wasn't the time or place to argue much, so i let the youth wriggle away.
the 40th notting hill carnival was living up to its reputation, in this
and also in the friendliness of most of the particpants. this was children's
day, so i took my son, and will embarass him with a couple of pictures of
him dancing. but mostly it was what we have come to expect, and a little
dull weather and the odd shower didn't mar the celebrations.
some of my work gets put into nice organised websites.
this isn't meant to be like that, but you can see some of the rest at
and you can read what I think about photography at