London’s Living Room?


After our 3 month Portland to Portland cycle ride across 13 US states and Great Britain, the research document was completed this week. I went with ride captain Peter Murray to photograph him handing the letter into City Hall. I wanted a photograph of Peter outside City Hall, with Tower Bridge in the background to locate the image. I was using flash on camera as fill with no additional kit such as a tripod, so I was no hazard to other users of the space. The photograph was to be used to illustrate the story, circulated to trade press and was done on a pro bono basis. I think I had taken about 6 photos and was approached by the security guard who told me I needed permission. I told him what I was doing and that this was about presenting a document on cycling to the mayor and why I wanted to take the photograph. ‘Since you’re a professional photographer, you need permission to take photographs.’ I hadn’t heard this response used before at More London. And then that old standard, ‘this is private property’. I didn’t bother getting the permission, as I had the shot.

I was bemused and perplexed by this harassment of citizens accessing our seat of local government. 


This was in stark contrast to two of the capitols I visited on our ride across the States. In Columbus, Ohio I stood on the steps where Lincoln spoke in 1859 in the Ohio Statehouse. No-one reproached me, nor eyed me suspiciously through CCTV. In Pierre, capitol of South Dakota, I wandered through the marvellous Capitol building, built in the early 1900’s, without any unpleasant encounter with security. I could take photographs and marvel at the accessibility to the halls of democracy. The door to the Governor’s office, read ‘please walk in’. Pierre’s population is only about 15,000 and I realise that London is home to more than 8 million, but the building described as having ‘London’s living room’ on the uppermost floor, feels more like London’s nursery as we are shepherded away from photographing any aspect of this building.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: