It has been a thin week photographically. There wasn't much interesting happening in town last weekend and I have barely left the flat since then. Glancing at my diary of all things London, I have just noticed that the London Marathon is being run this weekend ...
Like, wow. Fantastic.
Yes, I know it is a great day out and a celebration of all things healthy but, photographically, it has become a tiresome cliche. You know exactly what sights you are going to see before you even leave your front door. I suppose I could attend and take pictures of men running in old- fashioned diving suits or on stilts and then, in the Summer, I could go to the Notting Hill Carnival and photograph a policeman dancing with a jovial, fat Jamaican woman ...
But I wont.
Apart from the numbers attending, the Marathon looks tediously similar to the protest marches that criss-cross this city; right down to the novelty costumes. The only real difference is that, during the Marathon, the people at the front are usually moving faster than the people at the back. The protest marches habitually clatter to a clumsy halt every time someone in the vanguard stops to tie up their shoelaces; leading to all sorts of comedy consequences as people continue to come piling in from the rear.
Did I say there was nothing happening in town last week? Strictly speaking, that is not entirely true. There were no less than three marches scheduled last Saturday; an anti-racism demo, a protest against the abolition of the Scots Regiments and a couple of thousand irate commuters protesting about something or other. Commuting probably. I wonder how they got into town?
I had a chat with Ian about maybe attending one or more of these demos on Saturday morning and we eventually agreed that we couldn't be bothered. They are just such dull events these days. Looking at some pictures I took a couple of marches ago, it was all I could do to resist the temptation to Photoshop some blood, machetes and terrified children into the images just to perk them up a bit.
Besides, as well as being dull and predictable, it is not as if all these marches ever change anything is it? As I like to say, If marches made any difference, Tony Blair would ban them and cite national security reasons for doing so.
Well, somebody in the British Anti War Protest group on Flickr pulled me up on this a few days ago. Obviously marches do make a difference, Tony Blair IS trying to ban them for national security reasons.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with:
which received Royal Assent on Monday. Juicy and pertinent highlights include ...
- It is an offence to organise or take part in a demonstration without authorisation in or around Parliament Square, even if you are on your own.
- The Designated Area is one kilometre around Parliament: it includes Downing St and Trafalgar Square. Airports, government buildings etc. could also be Designated.
- Authorisation must be got from the Commissioner of Police at least six days beforehand. He can impose conditions (and change them at will) on a demonstration, dictating place, start and end times, number of people, number and size of banners, and noise levels.
- Loudspeakers are forbidden under pain of a £5000 fine.
- A 'disruption to the life of the community' or 'a security risk' can be an reason to impose conditions.
- People are prohibited from 'pursuing a course of conduct which involves harassment of two or more persons', in order to persuade them 'not to do something that they are entitled or required to do'. Giving out leaflets could be considered harassment.
Apparently, this new legislation represents a particularly ham-fisted attempt to kick Brian Haw out of Parliament Square. He has been sitting there, in his eyesore of a shanty town come anti war installation, for almost three years now and Blair wants rid. Personally, I think Brian improves the quality of the neighbourhood significantly.
What makes this new legislation particularly flavoursome is the thought of all those times in recent years that Tony and George have uttered lines like "When I pass protestors every day at Downing Street . . . I may not like what they call me, but I thank God they can. That's called freedom."
So Tony, if you're secretly reading this blog, when you don't pass protestors every day outside Downing Street because you've criminalised them what's that called? What F word would you use to describe that kind of behaviour?
Maybe I should attend some more marches and demonstrations while I can. It'll be something to tell the grandchildren about.
Ian, what are you up to Saturday?