Friday, 20 April 2012


I've had to be in London a few times this year, dashing down from Edinburgh and back again for the shortest of stays - so rushed I didn't even take my camera! However, this last trip has been longer - still very busy (with little time for photos) I had my camera with me and was struck by what I observed as I waited to cross a road.

I had stopped on a traffic island in the centre of the Mall (that huge avenue - presented so well on the TV during the coverage of the Royal wedding). Waiting for a break in traffic to continue on my way I suddenly saw a person walking along on the far side of the road with two ferrets! An unusal sight to see in any city - I quickly got my camera out and took a photo. Very well behaved little critters, the way they appeared so happily to bound along beside the man, they made me smile. But as I watched this same stretch of road the man walked out of my gaze as a huge limo pulled up (turning heads as it did, people no doubt wondering what wealthy person, perhaps which celebrity was inside). I would not normally have photographed such a thing but as the car slowed to stop - a man on a bicycle passed by (but no one seemed to notice this man).

A man on a bike with what appeared to be his worldy goods all tied up in carrier bags. Brightly red, white and blue carrier bags but in London's streets - he seemed to pass by as if invisible. After he passed I took this photo and here have cropped out the other people - those so near to him who didn't appear to even give a first glance, let alone a second. No one seemed to care and yet the arrival of the grand limo had turned heads. People seemed to see wealth and power yet poverty had passed by unseen. I recalled Norman Tebbit's comments that the unemployed should "get on their bikes and go and find work" - as I watched him cycle away, he blended into the London traffic until I could see him no more but as I stood looking - along came another limo, this time, one that was bright pink... (to turn as many heads as possible?).

It was a bright sunny day but I recalled Ralph McTell's song which had been written oh so many years ago now and yet, I shivered - in 'the streets of London' it seemed that there was as much as ever which was still so badly in need of change. Yet, how can a situation ever change if so many choose instead not to see, to be blind to the problems of others? From a limo to a home in carrier bags (the expression "there but for the grace of God go I" - people relate to what effects them but society needs to relate to what effects us all. In our world, there are many 'invisible people' in need of help.


Have you seen the old man,
in the closed down market
Kicking up the papers
with his worn out shoes
In his eyes you'll see no pride
and held loosley by his side
Yesterday's paper
Telling yesterday's news 

So how can you tell me
You're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through
the streets of London
And I'll show you something
Which will make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair
And her clothes in rags
She's no time for talking
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home
In two carrier bags

In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven
Same old man
Sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
O'er the brim of his tea cup
Each cup lasts an hour
And then he wanders home alone

Have you seen the old man
Outside the Seaman's Mission
Memory fading
With the medal ribbons
That he wears
In our wintry city
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care

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