Today I was in Maida Vale shooting for my ongoing Edgware Road Project. This remembrance plaque on the wall of St Georges School is a stark reminder of that fateful day in 1995 when head teacher Philip Lawrence lost his life at the hands of 15 year old Learco Chindamo.
I remember the incident and trial but was surprised to learn when researching the incident today that Chindamo is to be released from prison on parole for a second time. In 2010 he was released but was soon in back in court for for intimidation and robbery. Although acquitted on this charge as he was given a life term for the Philip Lawrence murder he can be returned to prison at anytime for the rest of his life. Personally I am astounded that he should be paroled again so soon. It is clear he has no remorse.
Once upon a time in the far off town of Yearles-on-Sea lived a man we will call McGoo. We will call him that for obvious reasons, he was extremely shortsighted. His shortsightedness meant he found holding down a job difficult, he struggled to write clearly and the frustrations this gave him made his tone come across as somewhat aggressive. But McGoo was a thoughtful chap he looked out for others worse off than himself and everyone agreed at least his heart was in the right place.
Yearles-on-Sea was a sleepy place, not a lot went on there save for when there was the odd skirmish with ‘the enemy’ in the posh hamlet of Dosflott which lay to the East across the estuary. Then one day many years ago McGoo somehow stumbled into a position he relished, he became a member of the local parliament. The residents of Dosflott couldn’t contain themselves. The residents of Yearles-on-Sea were too busy and complacent to care, after all they said ‘his heart is in the right place’.
Now the local parliament of Yearles-on-Sea didn’t function well over the years. There were rumours of all sorts going on and gradually the community began to sit up and take notice. Through all the turmoil McGoo had grown to command a little respect, he was seen as one of the good guys, albeit hampered somewhat by his shortsightedness.
Then at last came the big day, a chance for the local parliament to listen to the residents of Yearles-on-Sea and act according to their wishes (after all it was they who the parliament represented). Localism was big on the agenda in that far off land, as was honesty and transparency. Although politics in general was a cesspit surely at a local level some integrity could be found. Change for the better was in the wind.
But the good people of Yearles-on-Sea had not banked on how dangerous McGoo’s shortsightedness would be. When the nastier politicians waved the promise of even more power under McGoo’s nose he simply couldn’t see what was happening.
In his early years in the parliament McGoo had struggled, he was harassed and bullied. One day an old acquaintance from school was appointed to the local Parliament. An honest local chap who only had good intentions and was determined to challenge the nastier politicians. His name was Peter. Peter began to look out for McGoo, he helped him avoid stumbling into trouble in parliament’s long meetings, he advised him. In effect he became his eyes. McGoo appreciated this and was always looking for ways to repay Peter’s kindness.
But when the big day came McGoo had to look out for himself, Peter could not help him, that would have been unfair. McGoo could not see the evil around him, his poorly eyes were just filled with visions of power. He stabbed Peter in the back.
Poor McGoo no longer has Peter to look out for him and he has been elevated to a position much higher than before. His shortsightedness will now be a bigger impediment than ever. And now he has much further to fall. He will struggle over forthcoming months no doubt and then when the time for choosing a new parliament comes round the good folk of Yearles-on-Sea will remember his act and surely cast him out. He may even have to move across the estuary to Dosflott!
The moral of this story is that McGoo would have done well when he was a lad to listen to his Mum when she endlessly told him “Stop doing that McGoo it will make you go blind”.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Prior to my interest in photography I enjoyed writing short stories and plays. I had modest success, stories broadcast on radio and even won a prestigious playwriting competition and saw a professional product of one of my plays at the Queen Mother Theatre. Writing was a kind of therapy for me at the time. I’ve had a need for some therapy this week so have let my literary creative juices flow once again.
I’ve blogged previously about ‘Arlesey Remembers You’ a community project in my home town. During 2014, the centenary anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 the community will lay a poppy cross at the grave of each of the 87 servicemen commemorated on the village war memorial. A massive task as the 87 are scattered across two continents, as far afield as Iraq.
The first eleven crosses were laid at graves in the village cemetery at St Peter’s Church, Arlesey following a civic service on Sunday 27th April.
There were two highlights during the service. First of all the Letchworth City Chorus - a community choir from neighbouring Letchworth. They filled nearly a third of the church but their singing filled the whole village.
The other highlight was the guest speaker Wing Commander Peter Marshall. The theme of the service was remembrance, the wing commander was to lay the first of the poppy crosses after the service. He chose to speak about the servicemen in WW1, the Bedfordshire Regiment in particular and within that regiment the 5th battalion - the reservists. He told the stories of two of Arlesey’s servicemen who had served in that regiment and are remembered on the memorial. Private Frank Fowler and Private Frederick Bygrave. He told their stories from enlisting up until they both perished in battle in Gallipoli, Turkey. It was a really moving account with many quotes from the official records, excerpts from letters and anecdotes. The link was so strong with our community it was impossible not to be moved by it.
After the service the wing commander, who really looked the part even down to his stereotypical waxed moustache, laid the first poppy cross. He was escorted to the grave by a lad, Kyran, representing Arlesey’s Youth Football Club.
Kyran, like all of the many children involved became immersed in the seriousness and solemness of he occasion. So much so he couldn’t help himself but give an unprompted salute of his own.
Children laid crosses at the graves here there are no relatives available to do so. The crosses were donated by the British Legion and have been painted and personalised by year 4 children from our junior school Gothic Mede Academy. Here a young girl from that year, Allisa, lays a cross on the grave of Private Alfred Street. Allisa also made a cross for Private Charles Hartwell who s buried in Leper Belgium. Charles is Allisa’s Great Great Great Grandfather. A relative will lay the cross there later his year.
After all eleven cross were laid a bugler played the Last Post which was followed by a minutes silence.
The memorial closed with a Reveille bugle call.
It was humbling to witness a community, not without its own challenges today, coming together for this remembrance. Well done to all those involved, especially the children and youths of the village.
Photography takes me to a myriad of places and situations that I would be completely unaware of were it not for my job as a photographer. From time to time I do voluntary assignments for charities through a media skills matching scheme. it was through that scheme that I met Mary Wood, the founder of FoundationsUK . Mary runs this charity passionately focussed across the breadth of eating related disorders especially affecting the young and with a focus on prevention. I have now worked with FoundationsUK for over three years covering topics from vigor-board sessions for deprived kids on West London estates to Help Through Horses for the severely autistic and a whole raft of projects in between.
Yesterday I was required to photograph a training session at Hillngdon Hospital designed through role play to enable doctors and midwives to deal effectively and empathetically with obese pregnancy. Not a topic I am familiar with you’ll understand so prior to the assignment I did some research. I won’t preach about it here as that is not my point but suffice to say it opened my eyes to the health risks to Mother and baby and the enormous cost burden on the NHS.
The sessions commenced with actors carrying out typical scenarios. Above a mother and pregnant daughter attend a visit with a midwife specialising in obesity problems. The actors respond to the communication skills of the midwife. The those being trained observe and interject with improvement proposals. The actors react so well to any given situation it was difficult to believe they were not a real Mother and pregnant daughter. I pretty much became immersed in the whole session - it was a fantastic learning process.
I was producing images for use in literature and websites etc. But I was asked to get some group shots of the staff and trainees so here is a pic of the organiser and pioneer at Hillingdon along with some of the star pupils on the day.
This specialist training session is over and above standard training. It is provided by Mary’s charity at the charities cost. In the three hours I spent there I could see just how effective the training experience was at many levels.
Charities like FoundationsUK don’t have the funding capacity of some of the bigger more well known charities. In my experience Foundations provides an invaluable service to so many disadvantaged people across West London. If there do happen to be any well fixed philanthropists casting an eye over this blog please do check Mary and FoundationsUK out - she could desperately do with a little cash injection to keep this fantastic work going.
A year ago today 1129 people died in the Rana Plaza Building collapse. A year on nothing has changed. Workers are still exploited so you can pay a bit less for your clothes, so retailers can make some extra profit. Virtually no compensation has been paid. Mohammad Sohel Rana has not been brought to justice.
Twenty days after the disaster I arrived in Savar to document the aftermath. This short film summarises the story.