England's Oxford now on my mind ...

Above all, Oxford is England's most famous centre of higher learning. Its academic institutions go back centuries. Many learned men and women have Oxford deeply in their blood
after studying here and then being granted their university degrees and doctorates in the field
of their matriculation.
My two-day stay at Oxford was three fold. My first reason for coming to Oxford for the first time, was to visit and stay with my Canadian grand nephew -- from the Badlands region of Alberta -- who has entered Oxford to earn a degree in theology. Last time I saw him we were in Vancouver, British Columbia, for a family reunion some 10 years ago or so ... We recognised each other instantly at Oxford even though both of us have aged by at least a decade!! I was overjoyed to share some time together and he just loves being here despite the very rough expense for his folkz to underwrite his stay and university studies in England ... Secondly, I wanted to record the scenes of homelessness in perhaps one of the most quintessential and historic England cities that is Oxford. And, thirdly to find any Big Issue vendors I happened upon ... and to photograph them with their approval for my continuing photographic essay:
"The Faces of Homelessness."
So all day today, I was all around the Oxford surroundings from Headington to St. Giles to
Summertown and to the city centre itself with my cameras at the ready. It wasn't long before I found the homeless and then followed quickly by finding several Big Issue vendors, who shared their thoughts with me once they knew I, too, was a Big Issue vendor from London's Covent Garden ...
So while the world tourists took snapshots of Oxford's world famous colleges and institutions,
I was alot more happier photographing the offbeat and the homeless and the vendors ...
The twentysomething woman with tatooes all over her face was the first among the offbeat
I saw at downtown Oxford. She wasn't exactly a turn on for me, since she was innately grotesque with or without her disgusting tatooes that appeared like botched needle work on her chubby and sickly white face ... Then I spied upon the first homeless man I found at a church bench on St. Clements Street in the heart of the city. He wasn't in a friendly mood when I spoke to him with his reddish complexion screaming out at you along with his gruff words that needed a big dose of carbolic soap to washout his filthy mouth ... He said he'd never heard of The Big Issue and he didn't know any such vendors when I asked him if he was familiar with either ... The few questions I tried to ask him were met bluntly with: "It's none of your f***ing business ..." Each time he said that, he got redder and angrier in the face. And he spit almost every time he finished his hostile dialogue with me ...
Shortly after that, I bumped into James, age 27, with his Big Issue Badge No. 99. He was the first Oxford vendor I met and James was outgoing and began to talk to me like we'd known one another before, even though it was our very first encounter. He told me that Oxford was a good place to be homeless at least until recently when the city rules were changed against the homeless. Now they can only stay at St. Giles Hostel for 14 days before being put back out on the streets again. You must otherwise prove you're a legal resident of Oxford, before you can get the city to help you. Other vendors like Tony, age 30, Badge No. 076, also confirmed much the same details with me of what James had stated.
Also, a recent influx of homeless Romanians and Bulgarians has caused conflict among some Big Issue vendors, so I was told. The East Europeans have now been ban from assembling outside of such businesses as Marks & Spencer on Oxford High Street and elsewhere. Vendor Tony said that verbal fights have taken place as the Romanians have tried to elbow in on Big Issue pitches by using their trickery of getting the wary public to buy their fake gold rings ... or confronting the public with their outright aggressive begging and ill-manners ...
They're not liked nor is The Big Issue vendor co-ordinator by the majority of vendors from
what I heard. Simon, who I went to see but he wasn't there at the time I visited The Big Issue distribution spot at the rear of St. Giles Church Parish Hall, is the bloke that is their unpopular co-ordinator. The gripes from the vendors seemed many and real to me. They must first register with Simon in the morning to get their pitch and do so again in the afternoon. This they must do every day. If they fail to appear on time, then they lose their pitch for the day no matter how long they have held such a pitch. They're assigned instead to whatever is left, if anything, for the day ... The vendors complained of no facilities for them to eat or wash ... No plastic magazine covers when it rains, no Big Issue jackets and no shoulder bags could they get.
They said Simon was lazy and did as little as he could for them!! He was also the first Big Issue vendor in Oxford and thus was rewarded, I assume, with being made the first vendor co-ordinator there ... New vendors also bitched about only now being given five free copies of The Big Issue instead of what use to be 10 to start with. They must go back and get the other 5 free copies after they're sold the first five. What a pain!! But that's also being done to vendors in London and elsewhere, I told them in Oxford ...
Unlike in London, The Big Issue does not open to serve Oxford vendors on Sundays. They also complained that Simon fails to order enough stock that then keeps either running out or in very short supply for the vendors to buy to sell at their pitch ... Today, I was told there was only about 200 to 400 copies left among some 99 vendors in Oxford ... that leaves about 3 to 4 copies per vendor to buy ... and then flog and that leaves some of them pretty penniless if they want to make a little extra money to buy needed food and what have you ...
By late afternoon, Oxford was drenched in wet rain and thus it seemed so depressing against the backdrop of its famed history of great learning ... Thousands of folkz scurried along the old city streets with brollies opened doing them a treat of staying relatively dry although overcast was now the English darkened sky ... During the day I also saw many dozens of "Freshers" all nicely dressed in their cap and gown black and white going to their metriculation ceremony with their proud moms tagging along like mother hens nurturing their chicks ... In contrast to the homeless I saw, the Oxford Freshers and their parents looked well nourished and certainly well dressed ... Along High Street, I was at first amused to read the large sign in the front window of Tranter's Tabacco Shop: "THANK YOU FOR SMOKING" ... Smoking, I thought was the last thing you'd thank someone for!! At Simply Sewing, I saw £78.00 shirts were marked down to 19 quid each. Great! But the shirts on sale had patterns and styles that would make you cross-eyed just to look at them ... Even if they'd been free, I'm sure I'd have said "thankz, but no thankz ..." Cops cars whizzed by countless times, too, with their nerve-wreaking sizens that should be outlawed just for the noise they inflict on us all in the name of police chases and/or 999 calls ... Such has turned London into what I call "Siren City, UK." I always thought the American cops were bad enough with their sirens going off all around the clock at Washington, D.C. But the British cops
in London now take first prize for "sirening" us to death like never before ...
Oxford is also cursed thesedays like most other English high streets with the invarable brand-name stores and designer goods that brings no joy to my taste at all or to my pocket. Lost forever are the local shopkeepers and their family-own stores to the top corporate retail outlets that swamp the downtown area now and force sky high rents to become the norm. England was once called "a nation of shopkeepers," but today it's more like "a nation of shop spenders."
I had earlier bid farewell to my grand nephew for now as an "Oxford Fresher" at Wycliffe Hall,
which is a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford, and to The Big Issue street vendors that I'd seen in town as I headed back to olde London Towne. There, I suspect it was also wet and damp as I journeyed south from Oxford to London's ever-growing capital city of England.

Cheers to one and all from Oxford, Monty. +The English Martyrs, 2oo7.


The "Foreignization" of Britain.

Gordon Brown is playing head games with the British public over his power to call a snap election, either in the next few weeks or anytime he wants until 2010 when he must do so under the law ... I find Brown of no political inspiration just like Anthony Blair before him. They both come from the same horrid party called New Labour. Under almost no circumstances do I plan to vote for Gordon Brown and his Labour Party at the next General Election whether it's called next week or next year or by 2010 ... Folkz seem to have already forgotten what New Labour has done so negatively to this country of Great Britain in the past decade under Blair and his
cronies. Here, I present just some brief comments about what New Labour has done thus far:
This is the same party that has flooded England with millions of unwanted immigrants from The Third World. Stand at London's Elephant & Castle at any time of the day and night and The Third World is there with its crowds and crowds of those who have come to take whatever they can from the welfare system and bleed it dry ... and there is no end in sight of unlimited immigration that New Labour has set in motion to the sheer detriment of the British people and her future well being ...
The Labour Party has already "stolen our country and given it away" to accommodate the hordes of useless immigrants who have been given free entrance to set up house at our nation's expense ... The quality of life may have dramatically improved for the immigrants, but for the those who are NOT immigrants or foreigners the quality of British life has nose-dived under New Labour. We now have more ready gunz, illicit drugz, open violence, and street crime than ever before ... Such stems largely from the Third World culture that has taken root in the First World at where I happen to have been born in a country called England. "The Foreignization of Britain" is seen everywhere from the overwhelming masses of Eastern Europeans to the millions of black, yellow, and brown immigrants flooding our infrastructure ... All of this is due, in my opinion, to New Labour that seems more concerned with pleasing all the useless immigrants and disruptive foreigners than caring about the ever increasing concerns and apprehension of the local British people ...
This is the same party that will continue, more or less, in the same mode if allowed to be re-elected at Brown's call. Our other choices are pretty slim, however! Look at Tory poster boy David Cameron and I couldn't nor I wouldn't vote for him. He's destroyed the essence of the true Tory Party, while New Labour has now destroyed the historic culture and the ideal of England's once green and pleasant land. Then look at "Ming" -- Sir Menzies Campbell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats -- and if you think he's too old to govern, then I would say he should not be planning for a general election but rather for a retirement home. If you look at his wife "Lady Ming," well she looks like a charity poster for "Help The Aged." The Lib-Dems don't seem able to get their political act together for the people to turn to them at our next ballot time ...
I'm left cold by it all as the British political parties seem so stale and so unmeaningful any more to me and I suspect to millions of others who are not the immigrants and foreigners bleeding England dry today. Frankly, they can keep their "multiculturalism" and shove it down the throats of others, instead of us ... the price is beyond words and the damage will never be repaired under New Labour nor by any of today's other major British politicos ...
This is the same New Labour party under Anthony Blair and his spin doctors that committed an unforgiveable sin against England by aiding and abetting and conspiring and lying with America to invade Iraq or Irak against the will of the English people ... What we see in Iraq today is a criminal insanity committed by Bush and Blair that is even beyond the definition of war crimes ... How can you vote for a political party that has committed such egregious crimes against the Iraqi people in the name of bringing so-called democracy to the Middle East? Britain's Labour Party and America's Republican Party do not deserve to be re-elected based solely on what its leaders have done in allowing the illegal and immoral pre-emptive military strike against another nation that happened to be called Iraq.
This is the same party that will also not permit, if it can get away with it, the right of the British public to vote up or down on the European Union Constitution. Brown, like Blair before him, fears the EU Constitution will be voted down by the people. As is usual with New Labour, it has reneged on its public promise to put such a referendum to the vote!
This is the same party, too, that has passed over 3,000 new criminal laws in its ten years or so
in office. If re-elected, they will pass more and more criminal and regulatory laws to re-enforce its growing policy of criminalising whatever it perceives needs to be corrected and neutralized in their political mindlessness and madness against the ordinary English people ...
And this is the same New Labourite mentality that will impose a multi-billion dollar National Identification system on the people, whether they like it or not. The danger of forcing the people to register and carry a National ID Card is tantamount to a deliberate yoke and governmental encroachment on the open freedom of the citizen. Yet folkz like Brown and Blair care only for their desire to gain even greater control of the collective citizen at every level of Britain's already mind-boggling surveillance society that now boasts of more than SEVEN MILLION CCTV CAMERAS in present operation and use across the whole country from places of worship to bingo halls to police stations to public libraries to funeral homes to doctors offices and to community centres ...
There is no end in sight as the British citizen becomes more and more impotent against it very own government that has now shut down public protests outside of the Houses of Commons and Whitehall without having to first obtain written permission from the local Metropolitan police. Here we are then the so-called "Mother of Democracy" now on the verge of becoming the "Father of Willing Oppression."
New Labour is also wickedly skilled at political spin and pathological lies no matter its policies or its agendas. "Lie first and answer questions later ..." seems to be the modern dictum of The Labour Party. I could go on and on why I will not vote for New Labour. But remember this is the same party that will do almost anything to stay in power since the taste of power is greater than almost any kind of personal drug addiction. The Labour Party fears going 'cold turkey' to rid its craving and addiction for power and control over the people who are the true sons and daughters of the British Isles ...
I'll have alot more to say about The Labour Party once Gordon Brown decides in his oddball wisdom and careful cunning to call for another British General Election to consolidate the already untouchable governmental powers of New Labour ... +St. Lancelot Andrewes, 2oo7+


In The Downpour Was I ...

There I was in the downpour at my Big Issue pitch. And who should come along are my buddies from Cheviot Asset Management that includes David Morgan and Allen Phillips. There was the Cheviot digital photographer swaying, too, in the downpour with me. I looked straight into his fancy camera and bingo I was instantly on the frontpage of Cheviot's world website for all the world to see me in my vain glory. And, I was 20 quid the richer, too, for my face's pretty mugshot ... Fame and fortune at last, I'd say ... Well hardly!!
Selling "The Big Issue," you see, is a constant surreal experience for me. From the beauty to the breast and from the breast to the beauty, I see it almost every day at my Caffe Nero cubbyhole ... Rich, poor, elegant, rude, fancy, drunks, beggars, doctors, tourists, ugly, beautiful, lawyers, dogz, nuns, stockbrokers, frail, loud, judges, celebrities and so on and so forth I see and encounter from my little spot at London's Covent Garden. Folkz chat, smile, ignore, donate, buy, snigger, reject, amuse, dither, shout, whisper, and do all manner of things to and for me ... Some dayz are lovely, some are grave, some are bright and bouncy, some are soaking wet, some even abit snowy, some are like frost bite and other like sunburn. Rarely are the dayz the same, except for being a little street vendor like me. I am a human face that some just hate and others just simply love. That's part of the price you pay and the reward for living life to its fullest no matter what other folkz may do or say ... Fear not, for "new everyday is my love," so He tells me so. Therefore, fear not!!
Some wonder why a grandfather like me is sitting on a London street corner selling John Bird's business invention of getting the homeless and the vunerable (!!like me!!) to flog his weekly magazine that's published by young Lisa Woodman. Good question, I'd say. For me having lost my huge home by a catastrohpic fire and being out of any insurance a few days literally before the brutal event, I needed to start all over again. That I did. I love doing business and selling that's why I flog "The Big Issue." As a news photographer for many years in America and China, I also flogged my own news and feature photographs to news agencies and wire services around the world. Prior to that I was a forensic photographer for various police entities. I had retired just months before the dreadful house fire ... So my life suddenly changed in radical directions, whether I liked it or not.
Out of misery always comes joy ... Just be patient and always take steps to focus ahead even when the sky is not just gray, but pitch black all around you as you look to the sky for better and greater things ... Inner strength comes from finding strength in the recesses of your mind and spirit. People are like the living dead because they have not found the recesses of their inner self. They lack the capacity to internalise whatever confronts them, here and now. Get on with life and stop worrying about life for life always goes on with or without you. So grab it, my friends!! And don't let go ... until the force of human death takes over you ...
And when people either love or hate you, remember you've now got their attention. Without attention, life is pretty dull and boring ... I thrive on attention, don't you? I know folkz like The Big Issue's John Bird surely do, too ... That's why he is so successful. Without attention you go nowhere, except to bed and dream useless dreams and don't even know you're already dead!!
The petty live petty lives and that's why they're so dead petty. Millions make so many like that ... So to get attention just publish ...
And if you don't get published, then publish it yourself like I do. Then you get attention mighty fast. That's the beauty of today's Internet. You can be your own writer, editor and publisher all in one and say to hell to those who reject or surpress what you have to write and say. If they don't like it, then tell them they can always write their own piece and opinion to counter whatever I've written and said. I would have thought "The Big Issue" and "Caffe Nero," for examples, were already big enough not to worry, like they seems to do, about my criticism of them as a little speck that I am. I am of no importance, so why do they react so frantically?
Ah, yes I know the answer why!! It's my pen ... the one with pyaemia ink in it ...
My pen is mightier than the sword and the power of my pen is sweet music to my ears and ever questioning mind ... My dastardly "crime" and nerve is that I write what I believe and not write what I am told to believe. That's scary for some, but not to me or to those of us who believe in freedom of speech both literally and figuratively ... Really? Yeeeeeeeeeeeep!!
So I write what I think, not what others expect or want me to think ... It's a good time to do that when the downpour comes, oddly enough. But try to stay dry for wet things have a way of muddling you and things up. So stay dry!! Cheers eveybody, yours truly and proudly, Monty.
PS. And what kind of money do I make selling "The Big Issue" some ask of me? I make less than do those catarrhine Camberwell punks flipping greasy hamburgers by the dreary hour at Burger King on old Peckham Road. How than can I be so poor, yet so bloody rich?
Take a guess!! +Abbess Hildegard, 2oo7 + Vol. 1, No. 3.


Clergy Figures ...

I have perhaps met more religious figures than most clergy or religion
editors. I have photographed popes, archbishops, patriarchs, noviciates,
rabbis, seminarians, deacons, and televangelists. I am drawn to such
figures for reasons I cannot readily explain no matter what religion or
faith they may officially represent. Here then are just six of my clergy
images I took during the year of 2oo5 at America's capital of
Washington, D.C. and at England's capital of London.

Mother Teresa Nuns at summer outing at Herne Bay
Episcopal Minister Catherine Young
& two children at St. Luke's
Episcopal Church at Washington, D.C.

Episcopal Priest Richard Carver at The Epiphany Parish
at Washington, D.C. with his assistant minister

His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Longley,
Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster

Bishop Tom Butler of the Anglican
Diocese of Southwark

The Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of the
Order of St. Mary at the Shrine of Our
Lady of Walsingham
I will shortly add a few more clergy figures that I
have photographed such as the old rabbi at the hidden
Fez Synagogue at Fez, Morocco; the Evangelical
Lutheran head pastor at Torshavn Cathedral in the
Faroe Islands. And my favourite clergy figure of
them all is Father Alexander Sherbrooke, who feeds
the homeless every Tuesday night with his wonderful
volunteers at Soho Square's St. Patrick Church in
London. Father Alexander is worthy of being a bishop,
in my considered opinion, and thus he would then
become another true Prince of the Church. Plus, Most
Rev'd Patrick O'Donahague, The Bishop Of Lancaster.
UPDATE: Now see my post of Oct. 9th, 2oo7,
for the images of the above-mentioned clergy ...


Sebastian Horsley was like "Brideshead Revisited."

He bought six copies from me of the Dame Anita Roddick edition (No. 762) of The Big Issue did Sebastian Horsley, who is also written-up in the same issue on page 30 at the lower left hand corner in black and pink. He's there under the caption of "Off The Shelf: Sebastian Horsley."

He and I chatted together for awhile. I then photographed him holding the latest edition as Sebastian then wore his tall, jet black, velvet, custom-made "funeral director's" hat!! No wonder folkz did stop and gawp at him as I did a short series of images of him at London's Theatreland.

For some unexplained reason, Sebastian Horsley instantly reminded me of some kind of character from "Brideshead Revisited." I felt for a moment that I'd been there has I talked more with him. He could have almost been the same character of Lord Sebastian in the famed Brideshead teledrama of years ago could Horsley.

As Sebastian Horsley finally trotted off in the autumn's cold morning air, I realised he was a very talented and gifted gentleman that one rarely encounters upfront thesedays in long Lost England. I had thoroughly enjoyed my unexpected get together with him at Long Acre ... I then went off to the Proud Galleries to view other photographic images not of my own making ...


proud images, I'd say ...

Last Thursday a gathering took place at Proud Galleries of several Big Issue "big wigs" and "little wigs." They attended a publicity event displaying Big Issue front cover photographs of such characters as Daniel Day Lewis, Tom Jones, Ian Duncan Smith, Gordon Brown, and other pop and political celebrities of both the present and the past. I wasn't invited, of course, to join them nor were most other vendors except perhaps for one or two of them at best. I was aware beforehand of the event taking place, even though it was seemingly hushed-up from others not thus invited. So I waited until Monday to go afterwards and see all the front cover photographs for myself ...

Kate Boenigk, the managing director, was most friendly. She told me that whatever images were sold some
70 per cent of the selling price goes to The Big Issue Foundation and 30 per cent goes to the photographer.
The standard price for signed and framed front covers are just under £500.00 each. Quite steep, I think!!

But I was quite impressed by superb photographer Andrew Cotterill's black and white images of Jarvis Cocker, Franz Ferdinand, and Roots Manuva. They're the kind of photographs I'd like to take myself, but in my own style and way. Andrew is, after all, a photographer's photographer!! To pay good money for his great images makes $1,000 for each image look rather cheap to buy ...

Two vendors -- both I know -- were also among the front cover images on display at the Proud Galleries. Ever friendly Billy was one vendor and the other one was Stone bearing his badge no. 271. Stone spent 10 years in China he told me. And so did I, too. Their solid photographs were taken by the photographer Hannah Maule-Ffinch ... What really surprised, however, was to find no frontcover photograph of Dame Anita Roddick at the exhibition. While, ironically, in her death, she's right on the front cover of this week's The Big Issue ...

When I last went to the London School of Arts to view the b+w photographs of vendors at their pitch, I was
pretty disappointed at the low quality and presentation of such images. Now at the Proud Galleries, I almost jumped for joy at how the photographs embraced and beckoned the viewer to share and enjoy such brilliant
photography ... Kudos, then, to all the photographers represented at the Proud Galleries ... Proud images,
I'd say ... Kudos, Monty.


... are you being served?

when i arrived about nine a.m on saturday morning to replenish my big issue stock, steve at the covent garden distribution spot thought he'd be informed "not to serve" me!! He expressed his regret to me for any in inconvenience i might be subjected to. he tried to call the list of six contact numbers he had on his outreach rota, but he had no luck getting any kind of answer from those on the list to his query about whether i should be served or not. i waited opposite the distribution spot in the morning sunlight to discover what was really going on ... steve came over to me about five or so minutes later to ask me for my big issue badge number -- 236. i walked back with him and he was still trying to get hold of some big issue staffer to tell him what to do with me!! i told steve: "they must have monty on their brain," but he thought not. he relented and sold me some copies to hold me over. i then told him i would call john (bird) if need be ... "should i not come in monday?" or "should i leave the matter as it is?," i asked steve who sported a lovely gold buckle ring on his finger. he simply left it open-ended with me. my question now is: "why would i NOT be served?," unless big issue has plans to push me out of my pitch outside of caffe nero on london's long acre for whatever reason(s) its decided to do me in!! please expect more news about this unfolding story on monday, when i shall know one way or another what their plans are ... if they push me out of my pitch i am ready to take a variety of actions to challenge their decision, if it's against me ... and then ask out loud -- "what for, pray may i ask?" stay tuned ... your's truly, big issue vendor 236. +eve of the 15th after trinity, 2oo7+
UPDATE: Arrived Monday after the weekend to TBI distribution spot and not a word was said to me about not being served. Sanjev was in charge and he served my like I usually am. All seems well for now ... I bought 50 copies of this week's edition that is a big celebration of the life of the late Dame Anita Roddick, who John Bird has dubbed "The Mother of the Big Issue." It's almost like a lovefest frontpage for her with the bold red caption reading : "Anita Makes The World Jump!!!" While yesterday's Weekly Review in "The Mail on Sunday" severely shreded Anita and her business empire and money practises to utter shreds ... In the meantime, I'm off to the Proud Galleries at the corner of John Adam and Buckingham Streets to view TBI front cover photographs on display and for sale by collectors and the public at large ...


photo-images of me from around the world ...

Hello everybody:
A number of folkz have requested that I post some world photo-images
of myself ... So, here I've uploaded -- for the first time on my blog --
five images taken of me in North Korea, South Africa, and China ...
Please enjoy!! Do remember these images are also
copyrighted by Alex Albion, 2oo7 ...

Me at North Korea's Kim Jong Il Statue at Pongyang

South Africa's Capetown street kids and me having a joke!

Me at V+A Waterfront, Capetown, South Africa.

Me at the North Korea/South Korea Demilitarized Zone

Me at The Great Wall of China ...
With over 1,000 to 3,000 British Bobbies surrounding and defend-
ing the 5th Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi)
Exhibition against a tiny band of anti-arms trade protesters at
East London's Dockland, I journeyed on the Docklands Light
Railway (DLR) to Custom House to see for myself the multi-
million dollar arms exhibition.
I got as far as Royal Victoria to then get stopped dead in my
tracks. Only by invitation and security clearance could one get
inside to see and photograph all the very latest military and
combat gadgets for sale to some of the world's most murderous
governments and standing armies. Travelling on London's
DLR was a grim picture of bedecked cops standing in ever-
growing clusters the nearer we got to Custom House ... It
was like the travelling public were almost put under
police seige whether they were going to the DSEi or not.
I noticed, too, what I discernably suspected was at least three
plainclothes detectives or security agents on the train with us ...
Arms dealers and security represenatives from over 35 countries
had gathered at the ExCel Centre at where some 1,200 commercial
and combat-oriented companies had also gathered for the four-day
event that ends Friday, Sept. 14th, 2oo7. Listed as the world's
largest arms trade show, the high and mighty and ugly from
defense ministers to high-ranking army brass to military attaches
made a bee-line to the show ... Many presumably came with open
cheque books and unlimited credit to indulge themselves in buying
and acquiring the latest from the industrial military complex
and the deadly arms purveyors.
Ironically, the day was also a remarkable religious coincidence for
four of the world's major religions noting the day for its particular
faith that would not be conscious or of concern to such world mer-
chants of death on public display at London. Thus, September
13th, 2oo7, was the start of Islam's 30-day fast of Ramadan;
the mark of the Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah;
the commemoration of Buddha Day by the Buddhist faithful,
and the Christian Vigil of Holy Cross Day ... When I studied
Divinity at Graduate School, I had never heard of such a
religious coincidence in any university textbook on religion.
It is very unlikely, too, that such a four-in-one event will
happen ever again all on one day in our present lifetime ...
Nor will shameless arms dealers bring peace nearer to the
world as long as such arms shows are given sanctuary and
protection and respect by our present pro-war and
pro-military British New Labour Government ...
Truly and Proundly, Monty. +Holy Cross Day, 2oo7.



To help mark the 16th Birthday of The Big Issue, guess who came along to my pitch to both warn me and to condemn me at the same time? Yes, it was Sam yet again who I now dub "The Hatchet Lady" of The Big Issue. She never brings good news with her, but only reprimands and threats due this time to Caffe Nero's Helen Rust having called our Vauxhall Headquarters to specifically complain about me feeding the pigeons? WHAT? To complain about feeding the English pigeons of London? You bet ... Without any due process, Sam told me she had come to my pitch to issue me a warning and that I could lose my pitch if I continued to feed the pigeons because "the local businesses are complaining" and that reflects badly on The Big Issue. Woooooooooooooooooow!! Although I am old enough to be her grandfather, she spoke to me like I was an errant child in need of correction right away. I was never asked to give me side of the story. Oh, no!! I was guilty as hell no matter what ... "Sam never listens to what you say," noted
another vendor to me when I told him of what had just transpired between Sam and I. Of course, she always talks "at you" and not "to or with you." Not once that I've seen such ...
Yep, and no free mags for the vendors to flog to help celebrate the BI's 16th year ... just like last year's 15th where vendors got no freebies, too ...

Helen Rust has called The Big Issue about other vendors in the past and she even asked me once for help in her dealing with a rather obscene vendor who bugged Caffe Nero
management at their Neal Street head office of which American Jerry Ford is its president ...
All I see now is nothing but an overkill and spiteful demeanour on the part of both Helen and Sam about the issue of feeding the pigeons ... I guess they're just good for each other, attitude-wise ...

By what authority does The Big Issue tell me, via Sam, that I must feed the pigeons either
at Holborn or Liecester Square even when I am not selling their publication outside of my pitch? Or when I go off here and there and I'm a free citizen to do what I wish without threats and
censorship from Sam or "The Hatchet Lady." Having travelled to North Korea just months ago and having seen what kind of unfree society it engenders, then I wonder if our British society
as 'Big Brother' and 'Big Issue' aren't far apart in their drunken view that they are the law of whatever they wish to stop or control ... Not once as Sam even said a kind word to me or asked
me how I am doing or if there's anything she could do to help me in over the two and half years I have known her at Covent Garden. She'll soon be off to the Hymalayas with her in-law John Duffy who is also a staff member of The Big Issue. At The Big Issue, Sam can do no wrong just like Mr. Duffy ... They both find fault of what vendors do or don't do. The Big Issue never seems to back the vendors. Vendors are invariably found to be "in the wrong," while those complaining
for whatever reason against them are almost certainly found to be "in the right."

As I have stated elsewhere before that I have received more complaints -- some five of them, I think -- against me at The Big Issue in my thirty months with them than I have in almost 35 years as a news photographer in Amerca and China!!! The complaints are so frivolous and petty it almost boggles the mind, but then I should no longer be peeved and surprised knowing like I do "The Hachet Lady" with her dyed ruby hair and her officious tone ...

So Helen, thanks alot for your Caffe Nero unkindness ... And to you Sam, I will remember
that you warned me about feeding the poor pigeons on the exact 20th Anniversary of my first born and his horrific and sudden death at age 15 on September 10th, 1987 ... May you both be forgiven!!

Talking of The Big Issue's 16th Birthday edition, the news yesterday of the death of Anita Roddick is sad news indeed for BI's co-founders Gordon Roddick, Dame Anita's husband, and John Bird. Two vendors today have told me of meeting or seeing her. They spoke impressively of her. She was undoubtedly much respected by many, many people. We live life to see the passing of those who go before us and so we must always be mindful of who may be next ... it could be you or me!

As for the birthday front cover (No. 761), the photograph of Allen is rather interesting since he is no longer a Big Issue vendor. In fact, Allen is a rather gentle chap and almost a latter-day Hyppie in his present chosen lifestyle. I have photographed him with his willing consent ... I'm not sure then why Allen appears at all on the front cover of such a birthday edition? The picture looks rather dated of him, but I may be wrong ... Also one other item on the front cover that is notably missing -- perhaps due to a mistake at paste setup or mechanicals -- is no cover price has been printed of £1.50. (I've just been told that Allen is in fact selling this week's Big Issue
at Covent Garden. How true that is, I don't know. But I still suspect he is not ... Also, one vendor has complianed that he's lost at least 5 quid because his would-be customers don't believe him with no the cover price to show them. But personally, I've had not problem about that ...)

Since I have had no one come-up with the answer to what else is missing from the weekly cover that most other magazines always have, I will now tell you -- there is no price barcode on any edition of The Big Issue since it is not sold at newsagents or retail stores anywhere in the UK. Hence, no need for a barcode ...

In its two full-page spread on the death of Dame Anita Roddick, The Times today included comments by John Bird concerning her: Without Dame Anita there would have been no Big
Issue, its founder said last night. John Bird told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight -- "Anita was the mother of the Big Issue. There is absolutely no way the Big Issue would have happened if Anita and her husband Gordon hadn't started a business that created a social engine that drove people like us to get creative." The Times also presented a 1,600-word obit to Dame Anita that was most laudatory of her and almost panegyric, too.

But just two days before her, Lord Michael Pratt,
the youngest son of the 5th Marquess Camden, had also passed away. Yet, it seems Michael Pratt lived up to his own surname. If not that, then his life seemed almost like a pratfall. Or simply that of a prat*... While Dame Anita's worthy life was for the betterment of others and of society, the old Etonian Michael seemed to do little or nothing but get into huge family rows and drive like an utter lunatic on the roads ... He even got ban from Pratt's, the club to which his family name is attached due to a "spectacular altercation with a waitress," noted his obit!! As my friend Soan McArdle told me that in Ireland "you don't speak evil of the dead." True, but I cannot help remark on the lives of two people -- one so loving and caring like Anita Roddick and
the other so unloving and so uncaring like Michael Pratt ...
*For a succinct definition of the word or term "Prat" or "Pratt,"
check Swan's Anglo-American Dictionary, p. 1092, 1950.

+The 6th Anniversary of America's 9/11+

Pigeon Ponderings ...

Right now at Caffe Nero, I'm getting the rap for the poor pigeons "pooing" everywhere outside on the sidewalk of Long Arce at London's Covent Garden. It is there that I have held my permanent pitch as a Big Issue vendor for the past two and half years. I like all the Caffe Nero folkz from customers to staffers. Many have been more than kind and generous to me personally ... That's really nice!!

Jasna Celic, the Croat-born, overseer of Caffe Nero is, however, pretty upset at me for all the mess the impolite pigeons oftentimes leave for us folkz to cleanup after them! She had today a couple of Nero employees scrub and wash down the piles of pigeon poo on the pavement that was an unsightly and unpretty picture to sat the least ...

I'm known for feeding them, so that's why I get the rap all too many times ... Caffe Nero staffers, from time to time, also plead with me to stop feeding the little buggers ... But they don't seem to understand that I have no control at where they have their habitat or when or how the decide to poo at a moment's notice ... I don't exactly run a 'pigeon zoo' or do I?

Their nature, I must confess, does not respect humankind's desire to control their somewwhst ill-bred toilet habits that even dedicated pigeon fancers sometimes become exasperated about. But they cannot help it. After all, pigeons are their own worst enemy. Thus as a breed, they rarely win any kind of popularity contest among their unfond British public. I'm afraid, too, that many such members would prefer outright to starve the poor pigeons to sure death or have them killed off by their predators like wild hawks, falcons and kestrels. Or use illegal poisons to get rid of them for good ... Poooooooooor things!!

So what "crime" have the pigeons committed? Their crime is simply being born as pigeons -- period!! All creatures in my sight have a right to live no matter how much they are either loved or hated. Pigeons are part of our lives, just like the birds and the bees that our gracious Father has put on this earth with us and whether we like it or not!! That's what I believe as an avid and avowed Anglican ... I am also strongly of an interfaith and ecumenical disposition. I, therefore, hold not religious prejudice whatsoever ... nor any prejudice against nature in all her extraordinary forms. And not even against her rudest of pigeons ...

Whatever, perhaps Jasna Celic (who hasn't spoken or smiled to me since she got herself all upset) could have the local maintenance men -- like my friends Bill Elliot and Paul O'Brien -- to hose and clean by high water pressure the ledges at where the pigeons have for years hung out above Caffe Nero. And have Bill and Paul clean and disinfect the gullies and roof slates, too. Spikes can also be put there, but such oftentimes cruelly injures and cripples the pigeons when their feet or legs or wings get caught in such anti-pigeons devices. I'm always perturbed at the number of pigeons I see and feed that are with deformed or missing feet and half-broken legs and badly damaged wings as a result of their defenceless entanglement with such wire spikes ... Many, of course, die a slow and sure death when they cannot free themselves.

While closing my "Pigeon Ponderings" for now, we must realise that the pigeons in question were probably living above Caffe Nero long before any of us ever came to Long Acre. And thus, they will still be there long after we have gone on our life's journey to wherever it takes us beyond our present work and life situation. Give then a kind thought for the pigeons for they may surely have the last laught on us!!! Truly and proundly, Monty.
Update: Helen Rust, another Caffe Nero honcho, is now treating me like somekind of philistine and pariah with her cold and bossy attitude as she walks on by demanding to know if I'm "still feeding the pigeons ..." All I can say to her is she needs "to get a life" and stop being so hoopoe!! Right?
Another update: The same Helen Rust has now contacted The Big Issue to report me for feeding the pigeons!! WHAT? And guess what? The Big Issue sent Sam, who is the 'hachet lady' for them ...
So please read: "THE LATEST NEWS FROM MY PITCH," which details the unwelcomed visit from Big Issue's Covent Garden distributor Sam. She never, of course, ever brings any good news long with her ten-year tenure with The Big Issue, does she? Hell, noooooooooooooooooo!!

++ To bring this year's travels to an end, I shall journey next, with Contessa Maria, to Islamic Persia for ten days at Advent. Next, year I shall also attend the 1st International Conference on Homelessness to be held at Melbourne, Australia. Maria is also kindly underwriting that for me, too). Thank you, as always, my dear!!
I want now to publicly thank some of my good friends for their kindness to me like Michele Zini, who is now at The World Bank in Pretoria, South Africa; Laurie Edmans, who this year was rightly made a CBE -- Commander (of the Order) of the British Empire. Very well done, Laurie!!!; Beverly Brittan of LSE library, who has shown much affection and support of me; Jean McCarthy, who has brought bags of pigeon seed for me and has, like all my fond others, given generously toward me; then there is dear Jeannine McQuillan whose prayers we send after, has we did before, her triple bypass heart surgery that took place so successfully last Friday. Jeannine was one of my first Big Issue customers and who is now one of my dearest friends; Professor Brian Dunnigan of The London Film School at where I lectured recently on the issues of homelessness. Brian has been a wonderful person to me and also Ian Hall, the step-son of Sir William Wood. Ian, I miss since he left Long Acre! Last but not least are two members of the legal profession who have been there for me -- Attorneys Grahan Simkin and Kevin Smith of the famed international law group of Fulbright and Jaworski. Thank you so much Graham and Kevin for more than two years of your friendship ... In my upcoming newsletters, I will add more worthy people to my public list of many thankz ...


I Call Them "Mobile Imbeciles" ...

Many mobile phone users have become a modern day plague and social curse. They are simply infernal cads that impose their rudeness and shrillness and loudness upon us all as we either sit or stand on buses or trains or in queues or walking along the streets of London. They use their cellphones as weapons to show-off or act out at our expense. Their attitude is something like:
"Look at me, but don't dare speak to me!." Such applies to all races, creeds, and nationalities.

They thrive on being rude and ignorant by their brazen affront and cockiness as they yak or scream or shout for us all to hear them intentionally. And nobody seems to be able to stop them or tell them to quit yakking so loudly and intrusively ... In fact, they're a law unto themselves and they don't give damn if you're upset or disturbed by their cellphone antics ...

Many, I think, are not talking to anybody at the other end of the line. But rather feel it gives them a "status" they otherwise don't have by pretending to be talking to somebody! Some, I am sure, pretend they are communicating to real folkz but are nothing more than phantom friends on a dead connection. It seems everybody in England, of course, has a cell or mobile phone from the little lunatic to the lowly litter picker to the lonesome lollipop man to the luscious ladies to the lewd goths ...

Like driving a vehicle while using a mobile is now outlawed, it is now time to also do the same with all cellphone users on public transport and at public buildings. I think in Sweden or Norway they do it. Thank God!! London, which is full of millions of zombie mobile phone users, really needs to take steps to control the plague and social curse of mobile imbeciles right now. They are mobile, too, in a literal as well as in a figurative way. They go everywhere imposing their ill-manners and rudeness via the use of their bloody mobile phones ...

The cellphone culture is deadening and reduces the quality of life just like those bastard traffic wardens who spoil the day of others by imposing their will to punish motorists day in and day out by their rogue tickets and spiteful behaviour.

The mental attachment of some to their mobile phones usage verges on an emotional disorder
that is getting worse as our society allows unrestricted rules to use such a tool at wherever they want and with no etiquette long gone down the drain ... Mobile phones now control the behaviour and manners of all to many people. Many have lost their ability to control their cellphone use. It something like: "Do you walk the dog or does the dog walk you?" Mobile users are the modern dog walkers being walked by their "mobile" dog ...

I will have more to say about such mobile imbeciles once I have more time to post my ongoing thoughts and opinions on this urgent topic ...