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Friday, 27 April 2012

Hostage situation, Tottenham Court Road

 Tensions were running high today (27 April) as a 3 hour siege developed as Tottenham Court road. Armed police, fire crew, snipers and sniffer dogs paroled the area as office workers and staff evacuated from office blocks and shops milled about. Sparked by a grievance concerning a HGV training course the situation quickly turned serious. In an interview with the Huffington Post Abby Baafi, head of training courses at Advantage HGV stated she recognised the man who’d ‘turned up strapped with gasoline cylinders and threatened to blow up the office’; he then proceeded to throw papers and computer equipment from an upstairs window. The 50 year old man causing the disturbance gave himself up and was taken into custody at around 3pm, but the majority of Tottenham Court Road remains sealed.
Buses are directed out of the area
The media scramble scramble 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ice sculptures in Canary Wharf

 This weekend saw the annual ice sculpture festival descend on Canary wharf, where against a back drop of glass sky scrapers and frosted offices aspiring teams competed to chisel a 2m lump of ice into a frozen masterpiece.
  Last years winners Portugal (Cool Runnings eat your heart out) opted for delicate snowboarding creature while Sweden carved an impressive though abstract stacked square number.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Brunel Tunnels

The Thames tunnel, sunken brainchild of architectural father and son mega-team the Brunels, was not only the worlds first underwater tunnel, but following delays in construction and an interrupted revenue stream, its first subterranean market place and finally circus. Victorian London was a far cry from the capital we see today, as horse-drawn carriages tore up the cobbled streets either side of the thames - the swirling cesspit which flowed through the city centre and out to sea - was manned by a series of small boats. But when it came to the titans of trade and industry, these small boats and the neighbouring Tower Bridge simply couldn't cope with the sheer amount of goods which needed to be transported from one side of the river to the other. 

Enter the Brunels- Marc Isambard and Isambard Kingdom (yup  thats Isambard Kingdom...) who worked tirelessly using their newly invented tunneling shield to construct a shaft 396m in length, 23m below the river Thames' busy surface. Now construction wasn't without its problems; floods, gas leaks and inevitable delays blighted the project and saw it commuted down from a trade route, to a footpath and eventually a circus. No doubt to the relief of the tunnel's investors, it was purchased in 1865 by the East London Railway Company. The tunnel's generous headroom, resulting from the architects' original intention of accommodating horse-drawn carriages, provided a sufficient loading guage for trains as well. 

The conversion is not to take away from the project's magnitude- the construction of the Thames Tunnel showed that it was indeed possible to build underwater tunnels which was in itself a revolutionary concept. These days the tunnels can be viewed from Rotherithe and Wapping tube or as part of a walking tour offered by the Brunel museum, which incidentally I couldn't recommend more highly.  

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Birds in Sri Lanka

The lesser spotted leopard.
Blue stee-agle

A black headed Ibis spreading its wings.
The fairly commonly spotted peacock. 

On a leopard safari in Yala, Sri Lanka the incessant and unfortunate Monsoon rain ensured the leopards, though beautiful, were a little thin on a ground. There were however some spectacular birds. Turns out ornithology, long the pass time of the beardy and bespectacled is in fact quite fun.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Penny for your thoughts

I think it's time to take a cold hard look at what I let pass for a productive afternoon these days...

Monday, 28 March 2011

Protest in Trafalgar square

While a peaceful march through Hyde park may be a more legitimate form political statement but kids playing thug is central London makes a much better picture.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

NHS not for sale

Monday, 28 February 2011

Sea of Bees

 So there are a few bees based bands buzing around but these are my favorite. On Saturday night i had the privilege of going to their highly acclaimed gig in Westminster library- cakes were served. The Allotment hosted 3 sold out London show filmed by Tuckshop. This was my absolute favorite. (never mind that i thought the words were happy as a pie- i prefer it that way.)

Sea of Bees - The Woods from Tuckshop Community on Vimeo.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Send in the Clowns

This annual memorial service in Dalston in honour of the king of clowns, Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) is a colourful event. About 60 clowns in full harlequin get up including props of musical bubble machines and deceptive flowers descend upon the Holy Trinty church. Much of the usual Sunday morning congregation are also present leading to a strange mixture of the farcical and the faithful including a preaching magician who having folded the sunday papers into the shape of a cross- promptly re-assembled them.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Ever Young

Ali in Accra

Meet James Barnor- the subject of my final year dissertation on the history of Photography in West Africa. He's 82 in June and lives here in London. Barnor was a studio and press photographer for the a Ghanaian branch of the Daily Mail in the decade prior to Independence. In 1959 he left Accra for London where he continued to shoot for amongst others- Drum magazine. In November, Rivington place held an exhibition of his work (mostly from london) and ran a series of workshops, with the BBC making a documentary of his life at some point this year. Certainly at 82 this recognition comes rather late, and Barnor is acutely aware of the coverage that his French West African contemporaries such as Malik Sidbe and Seydou Keita received, but remains grateful that it puts him in a position to support his family in Ghana.
Barnor in Hounslo

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Fresh from a reasonably lengthy stint as a certified mad man- Adam Ant played an intimate gig in Soho's Madam JOJO. The audience was a strange mix Adam's friends family and die hard fans in ill fitting Napoleonic jackets. His set was equally eclectic, t-rex/sex pistols covers and a selection of his old hits all belted out in an aggressive spit that would have made the gentrified John Lydon blush under the shame of his own butter commercial. Supported by 2 drummers, 3 guitarists and what i can only describe as 2 tuneful strippers, Ant held his own well into the second part of his 3 part show- at which point he got bored and left.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A balloon ride over Bagans Pagodas

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda- or- that big Golden Rock

On the way to the Rock- an hour sharing an open top truck with 50 people up a hill

And then another hour down at dawn following the 4am prayers
Kids playing on the hill side
One of the guest houses
Another guesthouse
A happy monk smoking after 4 am prayers
Holy Man
sleeping pilgrims
One very dedicated monk
And finally the rock. It is supposedly held in place by a single strand of the Buddha's hair and covered daily in gold leaf by the pilgrims.
This woman was so keen to have her picture taken that she nearly set her broom on fire
Offerings made at the foot of the rock
 A young boy keeping war
Makeshift shelters for those who couldn't get a space in the Hostels
Many of the pilgrims have traveled hundreds of miles to pray here

The rock at sun set