Pedestrian traffic

I dipped back into Goffman’s ‘Relations in Public‘ this week, as a tasty little treat between Candy Crush lives. He writes in the preface; ‘Throughout the papers in this volume unsubstantiated assertions are made regarding the occurrence of certain social practices in certain times and among peoples of various kinds.’ Hilarious. The man is a legend.

I love his reflections on how we ‘co-mingle’ in public places. Mostly in an orderly fashion with our ‘use space’ commonly respected and reciprocated. He kicks off with some reflections around how we manage to walk around, often in crowds, without colliding into one another. And how what seems like a random activity – hundreds of people walking along Oxford Street, for example – is ordered and social. We constantly ‘scan’, ‘body check’, exchange ‘critical signs’ to signal a manoeuvre and engage in ‘near-simultaneous parallel adjustments’. We ‘step and slide’ through tacit agreement with others present making an often seamless display of togetherness. We could wrong foot people, or not play by these rules. We could engage in collisions and disruption but tend not to. Why?

The Goffmeister says the gain to be achieved doing this isn’t much, so trust is sustained.

The reason I’ve been revisiting this fantabulous book is because orderliness, manoeuvres and lack of collision are always visible in the photos I snap when I’m out.  Love him.

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Reflections, symmetry and happenings

Came out of Charing Cross tube this morning to drenched streets and dazzling sunshine. Whoa. Must have completely missed a downpour. So pleased I was early enough for a cheeky little detour in Trafalgar Square before my meeting started. Nearly four hours later, the streets were dry and the sun had disappeared. But there were still interesting happenings. And the splendour of Paddington station to catch the train home. From platform 9.

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Wharfe and Westfield

Went to Imperial Wharfe today for the first* steering group meeting of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Disability Study Group. The BSA have a meeting room right next to the London Overland Rail (another first for me). I got there a bit early and wandered around to take some photos. But there were no people. The Wharfe was deserted. It was odd and eerie. Just an enormously renovated space of emptiness. And “no” signs (skating, running, cycling, paddling, ball games, people).

Luckily the bus stop home is next to Westfield. I could have a people wallow on my way back.

Wonderous. As usual.


*Still astonished there hasn’t been a group up to now.

A Camden masterclass

Spent the weekend at a street photography Guardian Masterclass run by Antonio Olmos. Well what can I say, other than a complete pleasure. Great teacher, classmates, setting and food. I learned a lot (see below).



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Top things I learned;

  • Always shoot raw (I knew this but I now understand why).
  • Don’t delete photos on the camera; you don’t know till you start to edit, whether they are any good.
  • Don’t zoom, get close (use a 50mm fixed lens).
  • Travel light and NO lens cap.
  • Take first, worry about the consequences after (i.e. don’t get overly hung up on ethics or you’ll miss a good pic).
  • People generally are happy to be asked to pose for street photography.
  • There is no problem with taking candid shots of people in the street without their permission.
  • ‘Work a scene’… don’t just snap and walk off in search of ‘another good pic’, hang around and keep taking photos.
  • Anticipate events and get into position.
  • Expect only one or two good photos on average (brilliant photographers take crap pics too).

Crispy duck, buses and Tulisa

LB’s 18th birthday. As usual, he only wanted to open one present. The thing he’d asked for (little mechanic/bus guys). Then off to London for crispy duck in Chinatown. The trip involved a bus journey, a walk from Baker Street to Chinatown and a constant backdrop of London buses (and statements.)

“Mum. I wish I was a Londoner Mum..” “Mum. I wish I was a Londoner Mum..” “Mum. I wish I was a Londoner Mum..”…. “Mum. I wish I was a Londoner Mum..”
Then out of the blue, crossing Oxford Street, “MUM. WHERE’S ROSIE MUM?

Wow! How cool is that??? (First time he’s asked since she started university over a year ago). I said we’d skype her when we got home.

The food was good and then it was back to Marble Arch to wait for the bus home. Big Bus Tour buses stopped at the same stop which was great. An added layer of deliciousness for the birthday boy.

After we’d been home a while, I found LB sitting in the kitchen on his own. He was waiting to skype Rosie. Sob.

Later, after a big fun filled skype session with everyone pitching in, we all (apart from Rosie) sat squashed on the settee, with crisps and pop, watching X Factor. LB loves Tulisa. She’s a Londoner.

“Mum, I wish Tulisa was my sister Mum.”
“I wish Tulisa was my sister.”

Making puttanesca sauce

“OK LB. I’m going to make some puttanesca sauce. You like that, don’t you? Very posh n’ Nigella.”
“Who looks after buses Mum?”
“Mechanics Mum?”
“And London buses Mum?”
“Yep, mechanics look after London buses.”
“Why Mum?”
“Because they have to stay roadworthy. Keep the passengers safe.”
“Yes Mum.”
“Now I need to find some olives…”
“Who looks after lorries Mum?”
“Mechanics Mum?”
“Mum? Who looks after coaches Mum?”
“Mechanics… Crap the olives have gone mouldy…”
“Who looks after settattas Mum?”
“Settattas Mum. Who looks after settattas?”
“I can’t understand you LB. Say it clearly.”
“I don’t understand. Say it clearly. Mouldy.bloody.olives.”
“Septic tanks???”
“Yes Mum. Who looks after settictanks?”
“Yes LB?”
“I wish I was a Londoner Mum.”

A day out, autism and the good life

Some pics from a London day out at a conference, Autism, Ethics and the Good Life, organised by the British Academy.

The audience, made up of autistic and non autistic people, academics, parents, siblings, clinicians and other professionals, contributed as  much as the brilliant range of speakers, to make what was, with a tasty lunch thrown in, an inspiring, challenging and thoughtful gig. Oh, and did I mention? Eva Kittay was there.

London, Chris Moyles and Christmas

I know this post will be hated by those (many) of you who hate Chris Moyles but anyway.. here’s what happened.

Richy and I spent two days in Central London combining Christmas shopping with a very good hotel deal. In the pub, after a fab meal at Busaba Eathai, I randomly commented that it would be funny if Chris Moyles came in for a drink.

“Why?” asked Richy.
“Cos I’d say hello,” I said.
“Why?” asked Richy.
“Well, he seems that sort of guy. You know, chatty, cheerful, man of the people?”
“You’re mad,” said Richy. “He’d just tell you to fuck off and leave him alone.”
“No way!” I said, “Not Moylesy.”
“Course he would,” said Richy. “Why would he want to be bothered by you?”
“Well if he comes in, we’ll see.”

The following afternoon, we were battling along Regent Street, in the sleet, with a billion or so other last minute shoppers, when Richy, who was ahead of me, made a bizarre, jabby gesture to the left.

“What?’ I said, catching up with him.
“Chris Moyles,” he said.
“Whaddayamean Chris Moyles????”
“Chris Moyles just walked past.”
“NO WAY! Quick, let’s find him. I can ask him if he’d have told me to fuck off in the pub.”

I turned back and looked down Regent Street. A sea of people.  About a million people looked like Chris Moyles from the back. Man of the people and all that.

“Nah, we ain’t gonna find him,” I said, disappointed.  “Next time you see him, let me know a bit sooner.”
“Ok,” said Richy.

The lost day on the London bus

The final birthday trip, before LB restricted the jaunt to ‘just  you and me, Mum’, was a trip to the Tower of London.  We set off, early Saturday morning, caught the coach to Marble Arch and jumped on the bus to the Tower of London.  The bus was an old Routemaster with a conductor geezer standing at the back steps.  Perfect. Continue reading