Friday, 30 January 2009

A Riot of Colour in Camden Town.

A visit to Camden's markets is always interesting---especially if you enjoy large crowds.

For those of us who either live or work nearby, it is too easy to take this riot of colour for granted.

Passing by the numerous stallholders hawking their diverse wares, the various food stalls, and the hordes of tourists, it is easy to become almost dizzied by the constant assault on all of one's senses...

Looking at the photos from my recent stroll along Camden Lock the other day, these opening words from one of W.H. Auden's poems came to mind:

As I walked out one morning

Along the Bristol Street,

The crowds along the pavement

Were fields of harvest wheat....

Friday, 23 January 2009

A Statue Seen in Hampstead.

 A Statue  Seen  in  Hampstead.  Physically  imposing,  but  who  is  he  based  on?..Too  tall  to  be  Ghandhi.

The Healthiest Street In London?

I went for a stroll through Hampstead this afternoon, with a view to taking some pictures of one of London's most well-heeled and salubrious areas.

Almost every side-street has something of a story to tell, a little bit of history...

One such corner is the bucolic enclave known as The Vale of Health. It is well and truly off the beaten track, an attribute which enhances its mystery and charm...

Out of respect for the residents of the street, I shall not tell you exactly how to find your way there, but, of course it is on any map you care to open.

I was once told an apocryphal tale which sought to explain how the street acquired its name.

It is said that during the Great Plague which wiped out large portions of London's population, the bubonic-plague-causing rats were spreading very rapidly throughout London, leaving death and fear in their wake. Apparently, they were too exhausted when they reached the hilly terrain around parts of Hampstead, and were therefore unable to ascend to the the land which lay in the valley near the top of Hampstead Heath. Consequently, the inhabitants of this valley were spared the infestation of rats, and thus escaped the Plague.

The area therefore became known as the Vale of Health.

It is now a tranquil little village in the North of London. In fact, it would be easy to imagine that you are in the middle of the countryside if you had slept on the car journey here....(There is no public transport nearby---you either have to walk, or come by car).

In fact, it is only a few minutes away from a busy main road, but the entrance is fairly well-hidden.

Incidentally, the inhabitants of the street( it is actually a collection of three or four intersecting streets) do not seem to be too keen on unannounced visitors, judging from the wary looks, and twitchy curtains which always greet me whenever I have been there...I don't blame them for wanting to guard their secret domain so jealously---it is truly beautiful here. If you could hear the dawn chorus of birds chirping in the trees around here , you would imagine you were experiencing an out-of-body experience which had taken you somewhere light years away from London. Little wonder then that so many writers and poets have lived around here throughout the ages.

I stopped to say “hello” to a couple of builders who were renovating a house, and explained why I was there. One of them told me that the extension to the Jubilee Line part of the Underground Railway had had to be diverted as a result of the discovery of a large burial ground where the casualties of the Great Plague had been interred.

Well, I seem to learn something new every day.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Eccentric Camden

A Shoe Shop facade  in  Camden High  Street,  on  the  way  to  the  popular  Camden   Markets.
  There  are  many  examples  of   eccentric  shopfronts  in  this  area,  and  I  shall  be  posting  a  few  more  photos  from  there  soon.
   I  don't  really  like  going  there  at  weekends,  as  something  like  2  million  visitors  pass  through  the  world-famous  markets  every  weekend,  making  the  whole  place  a  bit  too  lively  for  my  liking!
  However,  if  you  are  a  visitor  to  London,  it  is  one  of  the  "must-see"  sights.  There  are  so  many  sounds,  sights,  aromas  to  beguile and  excite  you   there...

Friday, 16 January 2009

Stalin, Bond Street, and Israel-Palestine.

I went down to Bond Street the other day with a view to taking a photo of an artefact which I had noticed fleetingly some time ago. My camera's batteries decided to go on strike just as I made to shoot---it gobbles up batteries the way a lizard consumes flies...What struck me was an odd feature of the (double) statue—can you see what is wrong here?..Well, the anomaly struck me straight away; of course, there should have been three elderly gentlemen portrayed on the bench. This was, after all, one of the most famous photos of the last century now transformed into a three-dimensional statue.
However, the photo shows three men---Churchill, Eisenhower, and...Stalin.
They met , as war-time allies, in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, as the Second World War was reaching its conclusion. Broadly speaking, they met to decide how to deal with the Axis Powers once they had defeated them..
My question is: why has Stalin been left out of a reproduction of such a world-famous
picture? Is it an attempt at airbrushing the “bad man” out of a now-unpalatable facet of history? If that is the case, Stalin would have been proud, at least with this method of making a political opponent “disappear”!
The apparent message seems to be that Britain and America were alone in the fight against Fascism...I see it as an opportunity wasted to educate younger generations as to what really happened in those dark days, even if this picture was taken after the famous group photo.
Political airbrushing of a similar kind is now occuring on our televison screens. We are confronted daily with images of defenceless Palestinians watching helplessly as their neighbourhoods are bombed to smithereens, their lives shattered beyond repair...
In the meantime, our leaders unflinchingly parrot the shameless justifications provided by their American masters. They, in turn follow the script which has been force-fed them by their Zionist masters---we learned only last week that the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister is able to drag the President of the United States out from the middle of a speech in order to dictate to him how to cast his vote in a United Nations vote on a possible caesefire to the present conflict in Gaza. The tail wags the dog...
At least, we have a handful of newspapers over here who are able to tell us the facts as they are. Without reading such excellent publications as “The Independent”, one would be ignorant of the reality behind the air-brushed version of it. The Israeli propaganda machine's representative in London has been allowed to repeat the half- truth that Israel “withdrew” from Gaza several years ago...I have yet to hear an interviewer challenge this assertion by pointing out that the Israelis still control all the access to Gaza's air and sea routes, electricity and water supply. Their borders are controlled by the Israelis, Egypt seems unable or unwilling to open its border.
In fact, elements of the Right have been up in arms because a functionary in the Vatican
used a most-appropriate term to describe the situation in Gaza...The term “concentration camp” has riled more than a few Zionist sympathisers.
What is it about human beings? How is it that those who have long suffered under oppression can prove themselves so accomplished in inflicting such brutality on others?
We are still being cajoled into thinking of Israel as the defenceless “little guy”, while the Palestinians are exhorted to relax because “it is not they who are being targeted”. The F16s which are knocking out their homes, schools, municipal buildings, etc., are “only aimed at the Hamas terrorists”.
Almost every interview with an Israeli representaive includes the term “terrorist”. No-one thinks fit to remind them that their state was founded as a result of “terrorism”....To do so is to run the risk of being labelled “Anti-Semitic” .
As I write, the rockets still rain down on Israeli towns, The tanks are still patrolling the centre of Gaza, and thousands are dying. Just as unrelentingly, the photoshopping of modern reality continues...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all. Let us work towards a peaceful and harmonious 2009.
The past few weeks have been hectic and very demanding, that is why I have been “away from the keyboard” for a while; my new ambition (I shall not call it a resolution) is to become a prolific blogger this year. Having bought myself a new digital camera, I have also decided to take a lot of photographs of London.
I popped out to try and obtain a few snapshots, but today has been comprehensively grey and downcast, so I felt it would have been a waste of time.
However, I popped the old SD card into my new camera, and selected a picture which might cheer you up a bit more.
The photo of the gigantic table and chair were taken on Hampstead Heath about five or six years ago. Apparently, they are the work of an eccentric Italian artist whose name escapes me...You can imagine the size of the objects by comparing them to the full-sized trees in the background.
The installation was not left out there for long—as I recall, it was removed after a couple of weeks..Not very long, but such artefacts do tend to add to the gaeity of nations!!!

Random photos and Observations of London, as seen by a Londoner.