That Yoko Ono - she certainly does things in style. As tens of thousands of demonstrators made their way through central London today in a show of solidarity with Ukraine, at Piccadilly Circus they passed a big billboard put up by Yoko Ono.
And the message bore an echo of John Lennon's peace anthem. You know, the one that goes:
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
It was a big demo - tens of thousands, and not a Socialist Worker seller (or poster) in sight.
Quite a lot of those marching were Ukrainian or from Eastern Europe, but the larger part were well-wishers and people appalled by the brutal slaughter of civilians.
The demo ended at Tragalgar Square - and of course the weather helped keep the mood buoyant
As always, the homemade posters were a large part of the protest:
And big thanks to the Metropolitan Police for doing up their cars in Ukraine's colours specially for the protest - ha, ha, ha, ha!
So this is not what you would expect - a bust of Jesus adorning a Secular Hall. That really is freethinking for you!
Leicester Secular Hall was built in 1881. It was commissioned by the Leicester Secular Society after a leading secularist, G.J. Holyoake, was refused the use of a public room to deliver a lecture.
And rather wonderfully, it is still a secular hall run by the Leicester Secular Society.
There are five small busts on the outside of the building - as well as Jesus, we have Socrates and Voltaire, and two very British radicals, Tom Paine - author of The Rights of Man - and the rationalist and cooperator Robert Owen. Here they all are:
Next time I'm in Leicester, I'll try to take a peek inside!
I came across this guy on the Kings Road in Chelsea yesterday. He is, I guess, a pavior - he lays paving stones. I was impressed by his magnificent wooden mallet and asked if I could take a photo. This was his pose ...
This comes as a reminder that alongside all the high tech stuff and the heavy machinery, there's still a vital place for craft and hand technology. And for tools which feel as if they from another era - and in this case, perhaps are from another era!.
That mallet has seen a lot of pavements - and although it looks huge and unwieldy, its value is that it can make minute adjustments to the lay of a paving stone without denting or cracking or otherwise damaging the stone slab.
The pride - is it pastiche or real? - with which this worker posed with his mallet is also clear.
It took me back to the cover of an early issue of History Workshop Journal - illustrating a seminal article by Raphael Samuel: 'Workshop of the World: steam power and hand technology in mid-Victorian Britain'. The drawing is taken from the Illustrated London News in 1851.
This battalion of paviors at work in The Strand had something even more substantial than the Kings Road mallet to place their stones - but there is a clear link between the techonlogy in use 170 years ago and still evident on the streets of central London.
I've just picked up a copy of the seldom seen hardback edition of Richard Neville's counterculture classic Play Power. Neville was one of the founders of Oz, first in Australia and then in the UK. And in the same year as Play Power appeared - 1970 - the schoolkids' issue of Oz got Neville and his two-co-editors in a heap of trouble. They were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, went briefly to jail and all got a regulation short-back-and-sides haircut.
As with most harebrained attempts at censorship, it only increased interest in Neville and in Oz, and gave an enormous boost to sales of Play Power.
The big treat of the hardback is Martin Sharp's strikingly psychedelic cover design. He also designed some of the more memorable of the covers of the Australian Oz - not to mention the ultra cool cover of Cream's 'Disraeli Gears' album.
The Paladin paperback edition of Play Power sold many more copies - and its cover, depicting a becapped Richard Neville in school uniform, was clever, but nothing like as striking as the Sharp original.
And the book? Well, according to Private Eye it's the 'human story of a young Australian who comes to London and finds happiness by bringing out the worst magazine in the history of the world.' Ha ha ha!
The hardback copy I managed to pick up is ex-library (Basingstoke, since you ask) and a bit battered but it does the job.
What it doesn't have is the 'Headopoly' folded poster which came with the hardback edition and which so annoyed the authorities in Australia and the US. You can sort of see why!
At Bath over the weekend, we chanced across a lively demonstration in support of Ukraine and against Putin's war. It assembled in the shadow of Bath Abbey. What a marvellous location for a protest!
The video was filmed from just over the wall in the Roman Baths. How's that for a site with a touch of aggressive imperialism to it.
There were perhaps 500 people present - including a few CND veterans. Some had a connection to Ukraine; most were simply alarmed and appalled by the vicious violence Russia has unleashed on a neighbouring country and the wider threat to peace that comes with it.
The slogans on the home-made placards weren't always sophisticated - but you got the message!
An uplifting moment - towards the end of the rally, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome", the anthem so closely associated with the civil rights movement in the United States, and then adopted by civil rights campaigners in Northern Ireland and by the peace movement.
It was a nice touch.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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