Retail Frenzy: Oxford Street on a Saturday, a set on Flickr.
As part of my project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began in May — and which I still don’t have an official title for, or any funding — I have been making almost daily bike trips around London, accumulating several thousand photos that I haven’t yet been able to post, in addition to those already published on Flickr. I intend to post a set a day for the foreseeable future.
Initially I started cycling around with a camera to get fit, and to devote time to photography, a love of mine that has been overshadowed for the last six years by my dedication to exposing the US crimes at Guantánamo and elsewhere in the “war on terror,” but I soon became enthralled by my city, the one that I have lived in for 27 years, but which, it turned out, was quite unknown to me, beyond familiar areas. Cycling is a perfect way of getting to know a place, and since May I have covered extensive sections of south east London, and also ventured into north and east London, south west London, the West End and the City.
This set follows on from the previous set (or see here), and records a trip through Fitzrovia, to Oxford Street, on to Trafalgar Square, across the river to the South Bank, Waterloo and then home to Brockley, in south east London through Bermondsey, which I made on August 31, 2012, after attending a protest in Triton Square (just north of Euston Road) against Atos Healthcare, and its involvement in the government’s malignant mission to find disabled people for work, whether they are capable of work or not.
Oxford Street — elements of which are captured in this set running east from Regent Street to the Crossrail works at Tottenham Court Road — has reflected the whims and fashions of consumer society for generations, and is the busiest shopping street in Europe. Although its official website describes it as “London’s leading luxury shopping destination,” there is, these days, little of the luxury, and more a super-concentration of the brand-name chain stores that dominate high streets the length and breadth of Britain like bindweed.
Nevertheless, it remains a magnet for visitors and locals alike, and it was interesting — albeit sometimes rather challenging — to try and capture elements of it in photos. One key element whle taking photos in busy public places, I have been learning, is to have both patience and a sense of timing to avoid vehicles and, in general, too many unruly clusters of pedestrians — which is not always easy, when the street is chocked with traffic, and with shoppers anxious to unburden themselves of their hard-earned cash in exchange for some sort of fraudulent promise.
I hope you enjoy these photos, and that I’ll see you soon for the next set, featuring Trafalgar Square, crossing the Thames at Charing Cross, and Waterloo.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Zilma Nunes wrote:
nice shots Mr.Worthington..
Thanks, Zilma. That’s very good to hear!
Makes me homesick!
Come for a visit, Bill!
Jennah Solace wrote:
Now I finally figured out why I hate shopping! It’s too frenzied for me – I’d much rather walk through a forest any day! But I like the street cleaner pic!
Thanks, Jennah. Oxford Street is a crazy place, but I was happy to have the opportunity to spend a few hours photographing it. I should probably visit at night!
Jennah Solace wrote:
Yes, it is an exciting, vibrant place… even while being frenzi-fied! I would love to see some photos of Highgate forest — that was one of my first experiences of London and I loved it!
Highgate Wood? I don’t think I’ve ever visited it, but I do hope to get up to Highgate soon. I’ve been thinking about Highgate Cemetery, which I haven’t visited for many years.
Christopher John Webster wrote:
Brilliant Andy, lovely shots…
Thanks, Chris. Hope to see you soon!
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