Celebrating Eight Years of My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

Andy Worthington’s most recent photos of London under lockdown, as part of his photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

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Check out all the photos here!

Exactly eight years ago, on May 11, 2012, I set out on my bike, from my home in Brockley, in the London Borough of Lewisham, in south east London, to begin a project of photographing the whole of London — the 120 postcodes that make up what is known as the London postal district or the London postal area (those beginning WC, EC, E, SE, SW, W, NW and W). These postcodes cover 241 square miles, although I’ve also made some forays into the outlying areas that make up Greater London’s larger total of 607 square miles.

I’ve been a cyclist since about the age of four, and I’d started taking photographs when I was teenager, but my cycling had become sporadic, and I hadn’t had a camera for several years until my wife bought me a little Canon — an Ixus 115 HS — for Christmas 2011. That had renewed my interest in photography, and tying that in with cycling seemed like a good idea because I’d been hospitalised in March 2011 after I developed a rare blood disease that manifested itself in two of my toes turning black, and after I’d had my toes saved by wonderful NHS doctors, I’d started piling on the pounds sitting at a computer all day long, continuing the relentless Guantánamo work I’d been undertaking for the previous five years, which, perhaps, had contributed to me getting ill in the first place.

As I started the project, I had no idea really what I was letting myself in for — how massive London is, for example, so that even visiting all 120 of its postcodes would take me over two years, or how completely I would become enthralled by the capital that has been my home since 1985, but that was unknown to me beyond familiar haunts (the West End, obviously, parts of the City, and areas like Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove, which I’ve always been drawn to), and places I’d lived (primarily, Brixton, Hammersmith, briefly, Forest Hill, Peckham and, for the last 20 years, Brockley).

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The Coronavirus Lockdown, Hidden Suffering, and Delusions of a Rosy Future

London under the coronavirus lockdown, March 30, 2020 (Photo by Andy Worthington from his photo-journalism project The State of London).

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Nearly a month since the coronavirus lockdown began in the UK, it seems clear that the intentions behind shutting most retail outlets and workplaces, and encouraging everyone to stay at home as much as possible — to keep the death toll to manageable levels, preventing the NHS and the burial industry from being overwhelmed — are working, although no one should be under any illusions that Boris Johnson’s government has managed the crisis well. Nearly 13,000 people have died so far in hospitals in the UK, a figure that seriously underestimates the true death toll, because it cynically ignores those dying in care homes.

However, frontline NHS staff are also dying, and this is because they are still deprived of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), which is an absolute and unmitigated disgrace, showing how far our current elected officials are from the wartime spirit of the plucky British that they are so intent on selling to the public to cover up their failings.

If they really were who they claim to be, they would have pulled out all the stops to get factories manufacturing PPE in as short a time as possible, but they’re not who they claim to be: they’re incompetent disciples of a neo-liberal project that is interested only in elected officials handing out contracts — and all profit-making ability — to private companies, and that is determined to destroy the state provision of services, something that the Tories have been gleefully doing, not least to the NHS, since they first returned to power almost ten long and dreadful years ago.

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Imagining a Post-Coronavirus World: Ending Ravenous Capitalism and Our Consumer-Driven Promiscuity

A tug leading Royal Caribbean’s insanely-misnamed ‘Harmony of the Seas’ into Southampton Harbour. Cruise ships are environmentally ruinous, helped spread the coronavirus, and needs to be high on the list of enterprises that mustn’t be bailed out after the coronavirus crisis ends, if we are to secure a better world (Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA/AP).

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It’s too early to begin creating a post-coronavirus world when we’re still in the throes of the crisis, but we can beginning thinking about it, and planning for it; otherwise, the dark forces that led us to this point — helped by many of our least helpful habits — will only return with a vengeance once the worst of the crisis is over.

When we think about the post-coronavirus world, there are, I presume, two camps: those who want everything to go back to how it was before, and those who don’t. The latter camp, for now, contains many more people than it has within living memory — those who recognize that running the world solely for the unfettered profits of the few has been a disaster.

This group includes many environmentalists — those who, in the last year and a half, helped to amplify the messages of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion to try to alert everyone else to an uncomfortable but vitally necessary truth: that we are facing an unprecedented man-made environmental crisis, which threatens humanity’s very existence.

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Celebrating 1,000 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The latest photos in my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Check out all the photos to date here!

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Today marks 1,000 days since I began posting a photo a day — on a page I set up on Facebook called ‘The State of London’ — from what is now a nearly eight-year archive of photos I’ve taken on bike rides throughout London’s 120 postcodes. The project is also on Twitter here.

I began posting a photo a day on May 11, 2017, which was the fifth anniversary of when the project began, on May 11, 2012, so today, Day 1000, also marks 2,826 days since this long journey to record London in all its diversity — of weather, wealth disparity and architecture — began.

I haven’t been out on my bike every single day, of course. I’ve been away from the capital for at least a month every year, on various holidays, or work-related trips, and very occasionally, through illness or particularly dreadful weather, I haven’t left the house, but, with these exceptions, I have, on every other day, been out on my bike, in London, come rain or shine, camera in hand (or in pocket, to be accurate). Most days, it would be fair to say, I haven’t travelled beyond my immediate neighbourhood, in south east London, radiating out from my home on a hill in Brockley around the surrounding areas, with a particularly well-travelled route taking me through Deptford to Greenwich and back again.

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Radio: I Discuss Boris Johnson’s Alarming Election Victory – and Guantánamo – with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

Boris Johnson promising to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and Donald Trump and Guantánamo.

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On Thursday, I was delighted to be interviewed by Chris Cook, in Victoria, Canada, about the parlous state of British politics, and the ongoing and outrageous injustice of Guantánamo, on his weekly show, Gorilla Radio, which is “dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.”

The show is here (and here as an MP3), and I’m also pleased to be able to embed it below. My interview is in the first half of the one-hour show:

Here’s how Chris introduced the show on his website, accurately capturing the madness of the UK right now:

Last week, Britain followed America’s lead in electing an ultra-conservative, faux populist based on the single premise of, if not making Britain Great again, at least carrying through with the years-old promise to take the country out of the European Union. The great mystery to those looking from outside the country is why?

Why, following the divisive and ill-defined scheme dreamt up by the David Cameron Tories of yore, did the people of that green and pleasant land, rather than punishing the authors, and bungling executors of the disastrous Brexit debacle, decide instead to reward them with massive electoral success? And for Britons, the greater question now is, what’s going to happen next?

I’m honoured that Chris has had me on his show numerous times over the last ten years — almost always to discuss Guantánamo, but occasionally to discuss other topics — and it was a pleasure on Thursday to be able to provide some analysis of the disaster area that is Britain today, following last week’s General Election.

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Boris Johnson’s Election Victory: A Truly Depressing Day for Britain, But Now He ‘Owns’ the Toxic Brexit Nightmare

Boris Johnson in a bike helmet during his eight useless years as London’s Mayor. Now, absurdly, promoted to Prime Minister of the UK, he is intent on turning the British economy into a car crash via his enthusiasm for a no deal Brexit.

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The only positive message that can be taken from the otherwise almost insanely depressing outcome of Thursday’s General Election — in which the Tories, under Boris Johnson, a lying and thoroughly untrustworthy philandering narcissist, secured an outright majority — is that Johnson now ‘owns’ Brexit, the toxic destroyer of the UK, and both he — and the fawning mainstream media that was so shockingly biased in his favour throughout the election campaign — will be unable to blame Britain’s slow, agonising and inevitable collapse on anyone other than themselves.

Elsewhere, there is no other good news to report about this election. The Tories won largely because traditional Labour strongholds in the north of England and in Wales swung their way, often for the first time in their history (although the results didn’t come out of nowhere). An additional factor that should be noted is the number of EU-supporting Tory voters who stayed faithful to the party brand, even though, under Johnson, the party has become unrecognisable, and is clearly fixated with inflicting a hugely damaging no deal Brexit on the country.  

And those swings occurred fundamentally not because of how credible or not Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s policies were, but because Johnson took one simple stupid message — ‘Get Brexit Done’ — and hammered it home relentlessly and successfully. While I and others groaned at its constant repetition, it did exactly what it was intended to do: to confirm to those who voted Leave in the EU referendum that all the faffing about was over, and that a strong leader would now deliver what they voted for. Further analysis will also show, I’m sure, that many who voted ‘Remain’ in 2016, also voted for Johnson and his sledgehammer message, because they too thought that it was long overdue that the “will of the people” needed to be respected.

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After Nine Years of Austerity, and to Save the NHS, Please, Please, Please Vote the Tories Out!

The photo of four-year old Jack Williment-Barr, with suspected pneumonia, sleeping on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary, which has focused attention on Tory cuts to the NHS. The photo was featured in a Yorkshire Evening Post article, and was then included in a front-page article in the Daily Mirror.

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I haven’t, to date, waded into the fray regarding tomorrow’s General Election in the UK, in large part because I am so profoundly dismayed that we still have such an antiquated voting system — first past the post — that massively favours the Tories, and, to a lesser extent, Labour, at the expense of all the other parties, and in part because, in the echo chamber world created by the tech companies’ cynical and divisive algorithms, I’m bound to be preaching to the converted.

However, I don’t want tomorrow’s polling to take place without throwing a few thoughts your way, so here’s my gambit: if you live in a constituency where the race is tight, please vote wisely to get the Tories out. This means that, whoever is the closest challenger to the Tories should get your vote, whether that is Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

If our opposition politicians were truly grown-up, they would have stood aside for each other in closely-contested constituencies where a divided vote will do nothing except return the Tories to power, and they would have spelled out to voters how the main drive of this election needs to be to make sure that the Tories, led by the execrable Boris Johnson, are removed from power. However, a pact hasn’t materialised, because politicians tend to be idiotically tribal, and because far too many of them have been so conditioned by the inadequate first past the post system that they’d rather come third and allow a Tory to win than demonstrate the kind of responsibility that we, as a country, so desperately need at this perilous time.

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Celebrating 900 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted on the Facebook page for Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

Check out all the photos to date here!

Please feel free to support ‘The State of London’ with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Yesterday marked 900 days since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook — with accompanying essays — taken from the daily photographic journeys by bike around London’s 120 postcodes that I started five years before — on May 11, 2012, an ongoing photo-journalistic project that I call ‘The State of London.’ For anyone obsessed with stats, I think this means that I’ve been out in all weathers photographing the capital for 2,726 days; or seven years, five months and 16 days. 

Before I create the inadvertent illusion that I’m the Bear Grylls of urban cycling, I should point out that, nine days out of ten, I haven’t strayed far beyond the radius of postcodes emanating from my home, in Brockley, London SE4; that is to say, Deptford (SE8), Greenwich (SE10), Lewisham (SE13), New Cross (SE14), Peckham and Nunhead (SE15), Rotherhithe and South Bermondsey (SE16), and the whole of the sprawling SE1 postcode.

However, I have been to each of the 120 postcodes that make up the ‘London postal area’ at least once (a milestone I reached in September 2014), and I have also got to know, extremely well, almost the whole of south east London, most of east London (which I generally access via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, the Regent’s Canal and the Limehouse Cut), much of south west London, the whole of the City and the West End, and the central components of the N, NW and W postcodes, and I feel that I now “know” the city — and, intellectually, “own” it — in a way that was unimaginable to me seven years ago, and that its streets and its shape and much of its history is now embedded in me like an organic GPS system.

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Murderous Intent and Breathtakingly Cynical Opportunism: The Contours of the Brexit-Fuelled New English Civil War

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

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The last few days have been a particularly dispiriting time to be living in Britain, as anger over the failure of the UK to leave the EU — anger deliberately provoked by our disgraceful Prime Minister Boris Johnson — has begun manifesting itself in threats of, and incitements to violence by prominent Brexiteers.

Boris Johnson, elected by just 92,153 Tory Party members, and with no majority in Parliament, is largely leading this thrust towards violent, and even murderous intent. Last week, Johnson, who is aggressively pushing for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, was compelled to recall Parliament, after the Supreme Court ruled that his decision to prorogue (suspend) it was unlawful, but when he appeared before MPs, he not only failed to apologise, but suggested that the court’s ruling was wrong.

Since then, he has begun suggesting that the justices should be approved by Parliament, which is alarming in and of itself, but the biggest immediate problem with his rhetoric is that it adds fuel to Brexiteers’ notion of judges as “the enemy”, and as “traitors”, which began when, after the referendum, the High Court supported a lawsuit brought by the businesswoman Gina Miller, establishing that Parliament had the right to be consulted before Article 50 (triggering the UK’s departure from the EU) was invoked by the then-Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Brexit, Boris the Narcissist Clown and “Career Psychopath” Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, in an image produced for the Daily Telegraph.

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It’s now two weeks since 92,153 members of the Conservative Party voted for Boris Johnson to be the new Party leader — and Britain’s new Prime Minister. 

Johnson, in case you’ve just landed on earth from outer space, is an Etonian who pretends to play the buffoon (although behind it lurks a vile temper), and who, for eight dreadful years, was London’s Mayor, when he showed little or no interest in the actual requirements of the job, indulged in countless expensive vanity projects, and pandered shamefully to foreign investors with money. 

Johnson’s elevation to the leadership of the UK was greeted by his former editor at the Daily Telegraph, Max Hastings, with the most extraordinary put-down of his unsuitability to be PM in an article for the Guardian entitled, ‘I was Boris Johnson’s boss: he is utterly unfit to be prime minister.’

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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