The Lila Interview

It is a year since i photographed Lila for her 7th Birthday. She is nearly 8. What is her world like:


Lila tell me is the world really upside down?

Yes. Antartica is at the bottom. It should be at the top.


Is this you doing your impersonation of a clown?

No. I’m definitely doing a dance. Its the dance of lalaland. I don’t live there. I live in Altior Court. Sometimes I wish we had a swimming pool or a hot tub because on a hot day we all want to cool down. The balcony’s are really thin and when I was 4 and could walk I wanted them to be so much longer so I could run across them.


What is it like not being in the picture?

Kind of like ermmm let me be in the picture. I don’t want to be in the picture all the time. I want to be in pictures that suit me. I don’t want to be in pictures of boring brown trees. I like designer stuff. I’d like the bark scraped off and marked with stars and stuff.


A witch came by and put a spell on you. What do you hope she wished for?

I wouldn’t mind like a spell so at the end of the day I could turn into a frog but be human again in the day time.


The witch looks like she is having a cackle. You look like you want to get her. Do you think she gave you the wish you wished for?

No. She gave me this kind of thing like where I have to be ordered by her. She would like me to do things things she doesn’t want to do herself like cooking and stuff.


You look nearly as wicked as the witch in this photo. Do you prefer to be good or bad?

I like to be both. Good is like really nice to people but if you are mean to me then you are like really nothing to me. People come over to the house and they are like snitches.


This is how you looked a year ago. You was going up the road for your 7th birthday party. Do you remember this?

I kind of remember it. I had a dance party. I also remember that i can’t think of anything else.


Tell me about the last year. Did you have to be strong?

I had to be strong because when i was a baby i used  to eat a lot of stuff but now I am fussy.

Interview by

resurrected servant


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Stop the Blight


Save The Villas – Save The Trees

Nudged back into consciousness by local campaigns to Save the Green, and Save Hornsey Town Hall, I started taking an interest in campaigns to save the neighbourhood. The Green was never my stand out thing but I had some sympathy for the town hall. I’d gone to a gig there. Taken a photo or two that pleased me. I had a connection. I began to learn that the town hall had been taken over by creatives; bringing dance, song and cheer to the community as well as providing a home for entrepreneurs. I KIND OF THOUGHT THIS MAY BE IMPORTANT. Developers moving in on community assets, listed landmarks seemed less important.

I never thought the issue would come home to roost next door to me or even in my street as it has with Save Highgate Library – another site that has brought me pleasure, resides in my history, but the Shepherds Hill Villas are up for grabs. I remember when we first started to petition for them. I felt quite shocked about the depth of feeling people had on the issue. Its not that they knew where the Villas where situated or why they are important within this particular conservation area, nor that anyone held any particular affection for them. It was more that they held a regard for the past, saw values in it, and indeed they  had been blighted in their own lives. Young children spoke about the horrible house. Their mother told me; locals had campaigned against it but lost and that the children where now afraid of the building – that it was ugly. I’ve talked before about an 80 year old woman who wanted copies of the petition herself so she could collect signatures for us. She didn’t owe us anything. The Villas were streets away. She was true to her word.

Last week I made contact with Stop The HDV -a Wood Green Campaign Group fighting for the houses that they will lose to yet another collection of developers. People wanting to remain in their community with their own people of long standing. On my way home from work I’d pick up my free copy of the Standard and read about Save Hackney Wick, come in, sit down to watch the news and note the efforts of another campaign group to Save the Sutton Dwellings. Today on facebook. I find Save Tin Pan Alley. Not that I ever felt any sympathy for the Soho nostalgics but really; is nothing sacred.

It seems to me that a Developers Blight is running right across London. One way or another it seems to be a curse of the filthy lucre. Developers and sellers profit. Councils invest and make money to preserve services. Its the way the world turns. Yet…. people are making a stand, people are making statements about what is important to them, we campaign using our own resources are own energies. The little people versus the corporations. And sad to report, save for those who occasionally win, it looks like we are losing, it looks like we lose and change happens and change is rarely,  development wise, an improvement on what went before.  And yet through our despair of loss we fight on.

Someone once said to me, the law favours property over people. I say, change the laws. Give the people more chance of living in the world they prefer to live in.

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Strickland Needs To Demonstrate

Protester by workerIn a letter to the Guardian Cllr Alan Strickland says; Haringey Council is doing what residents tell us what they want. Well, he may say that might-en he. But, can he demonstrate Haringey Council is doing what the people say they want.

From the top of our hill through to Wood Green there are groups that say Haringey cannot demonstrate they know what the people want. The Save Highgate Library campaign has attracted more than 1500 signatories. A local resident, has told us of his concerns for the future of Shepherds Hill Community Gardens. We have been leading on saving Victorian villas from demolition as a means to helping make conservation matter in Crouch End (more than 500 signatures). Down the hill, Crouch End became a fervent bed of protest when groups campaigned to save both the green (1700 signatures) and Hornsey Town Hall (2,500 signed) from the developers. Only last week Transition Crouch End were asking for a presence outside of the Civic Centre to challenge the council on its commitment to reducing the borough’s carbon footprint. And to top it all I understand there is a judicial review against Haringey’s plans to develop Wood Green.

The Civic Centre is also under threat. I am not aware of any campaign  seeking to protect the council seat. The local people therefore demonstrating by both their activity and inactivity that issues around literature, learning, leisure, conservation, the arts, employment, business and the environment; are of importance to the community and that there may not be a democratic agreement with the council has to how these issues will be resolved.

We have demonstrated what the people want. Cllr Strickland needs to demonstrate a lot more.

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Mind War

people power

Struck me today on visiting this exhibition at the Imperial War Museum that there is a war going on right now. Tired of taking our bodies the blood thirsty are out to capture our minds. Their weapons are lists of lies. Current top lie. Remainers have given up and are happy to go along for the ride. I don’t believe it.

A Carrion Crow pecks away at road kill. What’s that word. Headlines starting with the same letter. I forget it. Examples. Strong and Stable. Coalition of Chaos. Paltry Paddy’s Prop Up Puritanical Party. Alliteration. That’s it. Put out a simple message, put it into people’s heads. Far too may people will go with the lie.

Tony Benn said something sometime about democracy being elected by the media. The spin masters. Those who seek to terrorise with words. Semantics. Our sentences give meaning and the people follow.

Or do they? What went wrong for the May Queen? Why not a coronation?  Another message. Another line. Someone else commanding the social wave of media, giving a choice. Weigh up the options. Choose for yourself. Why go with the Daily Fail, the sickening current Bun.

But whilst there’s another message, another line, other singers singing other songs, choices cause confusion and no one seems sure of the why we take an option. For me there is one thing i feel strongly from the day, having started an exhibition with conscientious objectors….. there is no ground for another war with Europe.

Recent events have reacquainted my old soul with smiles, with laughter, ideals of love and peace. I am appreciative. I bask in this light. I know I should not rest much longer. I may not be stable but today I feel so much stronger.




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Art, Action, the Missing Link

What a fabulous day Saturday was.

Morning time. The Photographers Gallery. We were off to gaze at the work of Roger Mayne.
We started on the top deck. Floor five. Worked our way down. Nominees for a prize stack the floors full of pictures.

Sophie Calle really spoke to me. She’s doing what I want to do, words and pictures, but she’s doing it a damn sight better and with connections. She’s funny too.

Floor 4. Still the nominees. Portraiture abounds. And lots of moving images. That particular room is not to my liking. Its not the work. I could look at the work. I could appreciate it but the room, the way its set up, makes me uncomfortable.

Floor 3. Touchstone. One solitary image and a bench. Its a series. Sit, look, let the image evoke what it will  within you. Write your thoughts down on a piece of paper and present them for inclusion on an IPAD. Instead I take a picture of the picture using composition so it appears as it appears here. You can still sit and think about it thanks to the wonders of technology and the availability of this blog. Preserved in technosphere:
I’d really like your opinion on it. It puts me in mind of monasteries, monks, giving up the material plane. But what do you think? Give it time. let it soak in.

The photo is actually from a new book called Haven which focuses on a woman’s refuge in Wolverhampton. Its funded by Multistory – an arts project from my home town of West Bromwich. I connected to the picture, i connected to the explanation. Connect.

One more floor and we are at the Roger Mayne exhibition. Images form the 50’s and the 60’s. A photographer taking on the establishment given their then existing snobbery about photography. The shots tell the story of the working class as it was then. The truth about the housing conditions we lived in, the bomb sites, the slums, the integrity of the working world, family, community. There is a lot that has changed in my 60 years. I’m glad to report we are better at graffiti than they were. But i also know for a fact now that graffiti is not new, is not a malaise of the day we live in, that it is rooted in reality. I particularly like a picture of a game being played. I like the movement. But strangely i likeit because one of the players is wearing brothel creepers.

One more floor we are taking tea.

One more floor we discover a print sales room and fall in love with the humour of Martin Parr and his singular focus on the eccentricies of the british.

We walk some. We walk to meet a march. We walk to march for the NHS. Whose NHS? Our NHS. Photogallery here

The day is all but done. All we need know is to party with Subir.

The missing link is tomorrow. Tomorrow is the AGM of the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum. We are due to go. We don’t.

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Reframing History

I used to be a keen photographer. Those were the days. I spent hours recording the exploits of the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network. I built up a treasure trove of images. Most of which were on old film, pre-dawn of the digital camera. Circumstances resulted in tragedy and now all those negs are gone.

But every now and then a pic pops up on social media and i love to see it. Some images mean more to me than others. I found a secret stash today and chose to recapture this image;


The work is by Dennis Queen, one of the most out activists in our movement, a friend and like my old negatives a treasure. I can’t remember why she did it or why she sent it to me but she did. It was sometime during the early days of facebook when techie dinosaurs still ruled the bandwidths. We immediately set up a facebook group called We All Shot Pudsey Bear which we continue to administer and to grow to this day.

We are often met with curiosity. Why? Surely Pudsey is a good thing? Sadly the little yellow bastard as another friend calls him as a history. Some parts of which are quite funny. Some are more dastardly.

1) Most seriously, consistent with many a telethon Children In Need has portrayed disabled people in a negative light.
2) Charity is seen to patronise. You can still witness this on the One Show where Matt Baker who some see as a bit of a dick head (or so i’m told) grovels and grinds out bravery tales wherein our new crippled heroes do epic things like ride a bike.
3) It remains our perception that Pudsey came to fame during a time of civil rights upheaval. We wanted rights and all Pudsey offered was charity. You could hear the activist cry of Rights not Charity everywhere in those dark distant days.
4) Charity also has a convoluted story. Leonard Cheshire, Scope, and other such stalwarts of segregation had an interest in keeping disabled people apart from society. Locked away in care homes and never seen again. Significantly Paul Hunt was seen to spur on the civil rights struggle from a Cheshire Home where he created a Consumer Group called the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS).
5) Children In Need and the charities it supports have been accused of being only in it for the money. CEO’s, Administrators and celebrities like, the witty or was it the witless Terry Wogan, were seen to being doing very nicely out of it thank you. The beeb have been asked about what happens to the money – why Children In Need seems to keep one hell of a lot of the year on year on record breaking pot to themselves.
6) The problem with the respect afforded to charities is they get asked to pronounce on how our lives should be. We talk of self advocacy. We talk about being the experts in our own lives. We demand nothing about us without us.
7) Two current examples of the mess this results in. First the unholy scramble of charities to get involved in government schemes focussed on work at the costs of benefits to disabled people. We get sanctioned. They get paid. We starve, they get bread. We die, they live. Pretty inequitable don’t you think.
8) We work towards independent living, Independent lifestyles. Increasingly there is more talk of a return to institutions. Whilst the private sector will take a fair bite of this cherry it is a fair be that charities will re-open halls, dormitories and old flesh wounds.

So, i’m starting reframing my history and the history of others with someone else’s image. It means a lot to me and its been a pleasure to share it.


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Seasonal Adjustments

Have I ever had a bad christmas? Didn’t think so. Refuse to start now. So, from that vantage point i find it hard to hear and accommodate the views of the naysayers and their old, familiar, lines.


I Like Xmas

I like Xmas
Tell the Grouches
Sucking on their Humbugs
That I like Xmas
When they say its too long
Starts too early and just goes on and on
Tell them That I like Xmas
If they think it means nothing
And is just an excuse for material consumption
Tell them I like Xmas
If they say its lost its spirit
Lost it with God dying
Tell them that I believe in
Peace and love
And this atheist boy likes Xmas
And if they say take care
Of the sadness and the madness
Tell them I know that but
I still like Xmas
Tell them I like the coming of the tree
The turning on of sparkly lights
The unwrapping of a card
And the excitement of a gift
Tell them I like Xmas dinner
Xmas books
And being with my love
Tell them I like Xmas



New Years Eve

New Years Eve
Always and forever
As sad as me
I would flee
Pre count down
To be alone
With pen
With paper
Caught between
Promise and reflection
In reflection
Hopeless and forlorn
Wishing i’d never been born
Just another indignity
I never asked for
But in promise
Words came fleet
And slipped
Never to be caught
Forces beyond my strength
Denying everything
That was then
This is now
Free of embarrassment
Given life
And breath and hope
Whilst I choose
To stay at home
I am not alone
Together we shall party.


And now a photo of the last of the mince pies



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