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2014 Revisted Via My Old iPhone 4S (which died). Part 1.

28 Aug

The title speaks for itself.

This is most definitely a photo blog, but I will probably feel moved to comment on pics in passing.

I’m writing this in the early house Bank Holiday Monday in N.W London. The stragglers from Carnival are still dribbling by on this sultry, late summer night. I just had a joint on the balcony, accompanied by a V&T. So I’m feeling creative, having just up-pixellated (I think I invented that word) all these pics using the iResize App.

2014 was an interesting year. In August, I’d literally moved-up-in-the-world (to an even better loft apartment in the same complex but one floor up!) and had a brief but wonderful autumn holiday in Barcelona with my mum (aged 86 at the time), Mike, Sylvie and Thibault Swindells, and my teen nephew Leon Bahar. I also released my pretty-damn-rocky album The Hanging Baskets Of Babylon (why not click to listen to it, as you peruse the pics?), which is available to stream and download on all the usual digital suspects. Most of it is collaborative,  with some cool high-caliber American musicians: Jay Tausig, Ralf Lenz and former Captain Beefheart (yes really!) drummer Robert Williams, amongst others.

I’m just going to post the photos in the order that they appear in the desktop file.

10. Sainsbury's homebase, Finchley roadRS

Ten

 

Abandoned Morrocan PouffeRS.jpg

Abandoned Morrocan Pouf

 

Grand Union Canal Towpath, Harlesden.

Allotment ArtichokeRS

Allotment Artichokes

Bath.

 

Arches - Parc El Clot, BarcaRS

Arches

 

Parc Del Clot, Barcelona.

 

Autumn glory - Roundwood ParkRS

Autumn Glory

 

Roundwood Park, Harlesden.

 

B4 it's BegunRS

B4 It’s Begun

 

Elephant and Castle.  These bleak and strangely evocative subways no longer exist.

 

Barcelona From Parc GuelRS

Park Guell

 

The view of Barcelona from Gaudi’s surreal,  pleasure garden is quite breathtaking. You can see the scaffolding around the towers of his ever-evolving masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, in the centre of the pic. It looks like the great man also invented ‘upcycling’ with his imaginative and creative re-use of broken crockery.  Mind you, he probably broke it on purpose.

 

Barcelona MarinaRS

Marina Marinara

Barcelonetta.

 

Barcelona Metro StationRS

Metro Windows

Barcelona.

 

BarchitectureRS

Barchitecture

Barcelona is full of architectural and visual contrasts and surprises at every corner. It’s such a great walking city too. And there are cable cars, a funicular railway and even escalators (up to Park Guell) to help with the hills.

 

Billy Fury wayRS

Billy Fury Way

 

I find this so evocative. It’s over the road from West Hampstead Overground Station.

 

Canal Wharf. JPGRS

Wharf

 

Grand Union canal. Harlesden.

 

Cat And Tiger Bike. NCYRS

Hidden Tiger, Surpised Cat

 

I found the kid’s tiger bike in the street. I thought one of my neighbour’s children would appreciate its retro, wooden charms. JJ, my wonderful cat (he passed earlier this year aged 19) looked somewhat taken aback by this territorial intruder.

 

Cawsand BayRS

Lemon Grey Horizon

Cawsand Bay, Cornwall.

Chiswick Mall SunsetRS

Chiswick Mall Sunset

 

 

Cool Venue, Hackney WickRS

Hipster Hangout, Hackney Wick

 

 

Damnation Alley, West HampsteadRS

Damnation Alley

West Hampstead.

 

 

Derelict 50s Building, Hammersmith BridgeRS

Derelict Sunset Reflection

A beautiful 50s block overlooking Hammersmith Bridge which has since been demolished (criminal!) to make way for yet more tiny, anodine, dreary unaffordable apartments (with river views) and no architectural merit whatsover.

 

Dining Afloat Alfresco. BathRS

Alfresco Dining Afloat

 

What a cool invention – that’s the first time I’ve seen such a sliding/canvas roof thing! Sydney Gardens, Bath.

 

Diversity At summer Rites, Tobacco DockRS

Diversity

 

Summer Rites.  Tobacco Dock.

 

 

Ella Ella TooRS.jpg

Ella Ella Ey

Soho.

 

 

End Less. SohoRS

End Less

 

Soho.

 

 

Film Crew. Poundstretcher HarlsdenRS

Save

 

A TV interview with… a homeless woman? A drug abuser? Or maybe both. Outside Poundstretcher in Harlesden.

 

Fox In The Hood. ladbroke GroveRS

You lookin’ at ME?

A fox in a derelict site by the canal at Ladbroke Grove.

 

Framed landscape. BathRS

You’ve Been Framed

The view from Mike and Sylvie Swindells’ terrace in Larkhall, Bath. Thom Topham is my Bowie-esque alter-ego.  Double album coming soon.

 

 

Gaudi's Park Guel GatehouseRS

Park Guell Gatehouse

Barcelona.

 

 

Happy Selfie. SS & LexRS

Happy Daze

 

Me and Lex on holiday in Kingsand, Cornwall in May 2014.

All photos © Steve Swindells.  Part 11 coming soon.

 

 

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The Towers Of London (Part 1)

11 Aug

A Photo Blog

 

TTOL Tower graphic mash-up 413879366_10154518663659180_3373159376131942003_n

Canon EOS 30D. GoProHero3BE.  iPhone4S and iPhoneSE (using the Camera Plus Pro app and Instagram).

 Cover design and graphics by Steve Swindells

Here’s my ambient instrumental multi-track album The Enigma Elevations for your listening enjoyment to accompany the photos.  I recorded this on my Korg T2 in the late 1980s.

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The Shard Seen From Tooley Street. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

On Saturday July 16th 2016, the weather forecast was good (although you wouldn’t think so from the ominous-looking clouds swirling around the ever-photogenic Shard in the photo above) so I decided to set off on a photographic odyssey, capturing not just tall buildings, but London towers of every description. I started off from London Bridge then headed down the beguilingly beautiful Bermondsey Street (the White Cube Gallery is awesome, but doesn’t count as a tower) taking pics of The Shard – designed by starchitect Renzo Piano – from various angles on my three cameras. The GoPro was a recent gift (thanks so much Abdul) and the quality really has blown me away – it’s tiny and looks like a toy, but certainly is not. It shoots great video too. My iPhone 4S recently died on me, so I was forced to buy a new one.  I’d seen good reviews of the iPhoneSE and had noted that it was smaller and cheaper than the 6S, so I piled yet more pressure on my credit cards and took the plunge. The quality of the lens is quite amazing – as you will see in the next photo.

A Shard Day’s Night. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

I suppose I could have done the obvious thing and payed the outrageous sum of £28 to go to the viewing platform on top of The Shard, but I suffer terribly from vertigo – it actually makes my legs hurt really badly and I get really dizzy – so that wasn’t an option. One thing is for sure – it’s a breathtakingly beautiful building and truly iconic and sculptural.  Truly a thing of wonder.

 

 

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20. Tooley Street. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

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A Shard Community. Bermondsey.  Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

I bought this excellent camera – complete with a 50mm lens – for £600 from a close friend in 2003, or thereabouts. He’d been a bit of a pop star and was constantly upgrading his ‘geek gear’.

 

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House Of Shard. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Architecture On Tooley StGlass And Steel.  iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

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Spikes. GoProHer3BE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

Shard Hats Obligatory

Shard Hats Obligatory. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

Ain’t No Stoppin’Us Now. iPhoneSE ©Steve Swindells

 

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Behind City Hall. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells

 

 


 

 

 

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A Cluster Of Towers In The City Of London. Taken from Bankside, on the Southern side of The River Thames.  Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

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Tower Bridge Hen Party. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells.  July 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Tower Bridge From The Dancing Fountains. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

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Cruising The Tower Of London. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

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Two Towers Of London And City Hall. GoProHer3BE © Steve Swindells

 

Shard Visions

Shard Visions. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

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Golden Tower. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

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Houseboats by Tower Bridge. The campaigning MP Jo Cox, who was brutally murdered in her Yorkshire constituency, lived here with her family. The towers Of Canary Wharf Are On The Horizon. Canon EOS 30D

 

 

The housing and architecture on the South Bank of the Thames as you head towards the dramatic architectural statements of Canary Wharf are quite dull and muted.  Mostly dreary 80s stuff with some warped and tired vernaculars going on. But the warehouses and their residential and office (or live-work) conversions in Rotherhithe are mostly quite spectacular. But where are the shops? A lovely old lady (a bit central-casting to be honest) was leaning on the wall above the river looking kind-of wistful. She must have been in her late 70s and was wearing way too much make-up.  She’d seen me taking pics – and had asked why I was doing that. ‘Just because I want to.’ I’d replied. Apropos of nothing she pointed back behind us and stated: ‘That’s my balcony’. It was on the first floor of an ugly 80s block and had a magnificent view across the river to Wapping. She must have read my green-fingered mind and said: ‘The plants are all fake, so much easier my dear.’

I surmised that this was social housing, and that she’d been rehoused when all the initial Docklands development had started in the 1980s.  But I figured it would have been churlish to ask for the details. Then I suggested: ‘It must be wonderful living with that amazing view!’

She replied: ‘Well, love, once you’ve seen it once, it doesn’t mean a thing.’  Then she added kind-of sadly , pointing across the river towards Wapping: ‘I grew up there love, everyone worked in the docks.

‘The main reason that you don’t like living here is the lack of shops.  Am I right?’

‘Spot on, my darlin’.’ Said the old lady, with a slightly plaintive wink.

 

IMG_8061

Towers Of Power. Looking Back Towards The City From Rotherhithe. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

IMG_8070

Tower Bridge Between Two Towers. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

IMG_8072

A Cantilevered Living Room In An Art Deco-influenced Apartment Block In Rotherhithe. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

IMG_8085

Heavy Metal. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

IMG_8102

Canary Wharf From Across The River. CanonEOS 30D © Steve Swindells.

I jumped on a bus to Canada Water and took the Jubilee Line To West Hampstead, then the Overground to Willesden Junction, five minutes from where I live in central Harlesden.

The following day, which was hot and sunny, I decided to journey deep into the heart of the beast known as Canary Wharf (which is incidentally now owned by a Qatari property company, aka the Royal Family).

 

IMG_8115

Canary Wharf From The DLR. iPhone SE © Steve Swindells

 

 

Inside Canary Wharf Tube Station

Canary Wharf Underground Station. iPhone SE © Steve Swindells

Arguably, the most beautiful tube station on the entire TFL network. The architects were Norman Forter & Partners and it opened in 1999.

 

 

 

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‘Insider Trading’

#1 Canada Square from the shopping mall below.  GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lobby Of #1 Canada Square (the one with the pyramid on top) at Canary Wharf. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells.  July 2016.

A security guard was approaching me in a somewhat challenging fashion and trying to engage me in conversation. A power-dressed elderly woman who was sitting nearby in the lobby pointed out: ‘The security guard wishes to speak to you’.  I shrugged my shoulders and said ‘How dreary. I know I’ve got a bit of a tan, but do I really look that Middle-Eastern?’ And strolled off purposefully, pointing my camera upwards, as if to find its weak points, or more accurately, its architectural details.

 

 

 

 

 

JP MOrgan Tower Canary Wharf

Bridge Tower. iPhone SE © Steve Swindells. July 2016.

It would seem that a ‘street artist’ has been commissioned to make a ‘gr0ovy’ design on the DLR bridge beneath The JP Morgan tower.  How unintentionally  ironic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Escape From #1 Canada Square.  GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

Canary Wharf  Reflected In DLR Glass

Reflections On Canary Wharf. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells.  July 2016.

 

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Skyscrapin’ Blues.  #GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

IMG_8129

#1 Canada Square From Beneath.  Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

 

 

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Be The Fastest.  #GoPreHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016.

#OlympicChampBolt #VirginMedia #Capital #ism #City #TheTowersOfLondonBlog

 

 

 

 

IMG_8134

Facade

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

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Canary Wharf Cluster

#GroProHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8147

U Tube

I have dubbed this nearly-completed tower thus as I have no idea what its name is. I believe that it will be a residential tower. It cuts quite a swathe on Canary Wharf already.

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Canary Wharf Tube Station

GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells. July 2016

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Sculpture-Scrapers

GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

 

The next day, the weather was again really beautiful, with a very special ‘light’, so I decided to take the overground train just a few stops to Hampstead Heath, from where it’s a short, uphill walk to take in the stunning view of London. I did take a few pics on my three cameras, but decided that just one would suffice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Towers Of London From Parliament Hill

The Towers Of London From Parliament Hill. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells. July 2016.

 

 

The following day was bright and sunny as I set off to Greenwich, taking The Tube to Bank, then the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to Greenwich Cutty Sark , where I tried to get a seat in the front of the driverless train (So I could pretend, as usual, that I was driving), but it was too busy. So I pulled my Canon out of my bag and went to the doors, brushing by a scruffy-looking man with a rucksack on his back. ‘You’re trying to get in my bag!’ He suddenly yelled, evidently drunk (it was about 2pm).  ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ I shouted, as people in the packed carriage looked rather worried.  I pointed to my camera, which I was holding towards the window and stated: ‘See, CAMERA, WINDOW… oh, and by the way, your bag is open.’ Several bottles of wine were pretruding from it. He continued to rant, slurring his words, this time about people posthing photos on the intherneth withouth permissionth.  I decided I’d had enough and got off at the next station to grab some shots,  then jump on the next train.

IMG_8180

Chimney And Towers. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

 

IMG_8155

Canary Wharf (And The Dome Of The Greenwich Foot Tunnel) From The Cutty Sark. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

IMG_8156

Towering Contrasts. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

I headed for the park in the glorious sunshine after a light al fresco lunch in a funky cafe.

IMG_8163

The Maritime Museum And Canary Wharf From Greenwich Park. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

The Towers Of London From Greenwich Observatory

Getting Higher! iPhone SE © Steve Swindells 2016

 

 

 

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Meantime… Sunny Selfie At The Observatory. GoProHero3 © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

 

IMG_8168

The Easterly Aspect From The Observatory. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

IMG_8172

Enjoying The View And The Sunshine. Canon EOS 30d © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Down – Behind The Observatory. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Back Through Canary Wharf DLR Station. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

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Train-driving Photographer! GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells July 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8197

Ghost Train. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016. Note the architect Goldfinger’s stumpier version of  Notting Hill’s Trellick Tower (see below) on the right.  Apologies to the mystery woman whose reflection I inadvertantly captured. 

 

 

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Goldfinger’s iconic Trellick Tower. GoProHero3BE © Steve Swindells June 2016.

 

Coming back from Greenwich, I emerged from the DLR station at Bank (literally The Bank Of England) into the  heart of The City Of London, The Capital’s financial hub, which really is an architectural treasure trove.  Contrasts sums it up in one word.  Narrow streets and alleys now mere footnotes to the ever-growing cluster of towers looming above them. My undoubted favourite is Richard Roger’s Lloyd’s Building, the modernist daddy of them all, with its sinuous curves and exposed ducts and fire escapes.  Early evening, then sunset, on a gloriously sunny summer day, proved to be the perfect setting in which these ruling Towers Of London could strut their stuff.

 

TIme And The Walkie Talkie

It’s Walkie-Talkie Time! iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

 

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The ‘Cheese Grater’ Resplendent In The Evening Sunshine. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

 

 

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The Cheese Grater Stands Out From The Crowd. GoProHere3BE © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

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It’s Not Cheesey At All – it Grrrrreat! Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

 

 

 

 

Blue Sky Thinking. the Cheese Grater & Neighbours13731566_10154477565319180_7749315989022298129_n

Smashing The Blue Ceiling! iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016

Check out this amazingly detailed  and well-presented piece from The Guardian Online on the bevy of bold new towers being built in The City.

 

 

IMG_8213

Towers Of Steel and Glass. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2016

The title above the above photo is a quoted lyrical slice from ‘Turn It On Turn It Off’,  from my second album ‘Fresh Blood’  which was released on Atco/WEA worldwide in 1980. It reached #3 in the US airplay charts in its second week of release.

Turn It On Turn It Off

And here are the lyrics from the rather romantically crumpled inner sleeve of my only  vinyl copy of Fresh Blood.

'Turn It On Turn It Off lyrics on inner sleeve. 29.7.16. iPhoneSE. jpg

‘Turn It On Turn It Off’ lyrics. Inner sleeve of ‘Fresh Blood vinyl 1980 photographed lit by cheap torch from Poundland. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells. 28. 7. 16

IMG_8216The Lloyd’s Building By Richard Rogers 

 Opened by The Queen in 1986, it received a Grade 1 listing in 2011, the youngest-ever building to achieve this status – and well deserved IMHO. I captured it at the perfect time on a beautiful summer’s evening –  it’s sinuous curves and famous inside-out innards (known architecturally as bowellism) glowing gold  as the sun began to go down.

One of my all-time favourite buildings in London.

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2015.

 

Gold And Silver

Gold And Silver. The Lloyd’s building and The adjacent Willis Building jostle for visual supremacy. You can catch a glimpse of The Gherkins in between.  iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells July 2015.

IMG_8224

The Frieze Above The Entrance To The Lloyd’s Building

This is all that remains of the original Lloyd’s building. Personally, I love the dramatic and rather cheeky contrast.

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2015.

 

 

 

 

Roger, Over And Out

Roger(s), Over And Out     

The ‘Walkie-talkie’ dwarfs The Lloyd’s Building in its curvaceous shadow.

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells July 2015.

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The Cheese Grater towers over the gilded galleries of the ancient Leadenhall Market in the heart of The City, which is now home to upmarket bars, restaurants and retail outlets, encouraging the city fat cats to part with their annual bonuses.

#GoProHero3BE © Steve swindells 2016.

 

1A Pink Ballon Trapped In The elegant Roof Of LeadenHall Market

A pink balloon is trapped in the rooflight of the magnificent central atrium of Leadenhall Market. iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016.

 

 

 

IMG_8223

The Gherkin And A Pendant

Designed by Norman Foster and The Arup Group and opened in 2004. Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells July 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Steel

Blue Steel                                                                                                      

The ‘Cheese Grater’ and its towering neighbour, subtly reflecting the Lloyd’s Building.

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells July 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tower 42

Silver Sculpture And Tower 42

Originally known as The NatWest Tower, this was designed by Richard Seifert, whose practice also designed Centre Point (coming later) and was also opened by her Maj, in 1981. Standing 183 metres tall, It was the first of the City Of London’s mega-towers but will soon  have a plethora of towering young pretenders raining on its parade.

iPhoneSE © Copyright Steve Swindells July 2016.

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I hear there’s a very good Sushi restaurant at the top of Tower 42! Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells 2016.

 

 

 

 

The Monument

A Plane Flies over The Monument In The Golden Sunlight

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells

This slender tower is a monument to the Great Fire of London and is 202 ft (62 m) tall and 202 ft from the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666. An elegant Doric column topped with a gilded urn of fire, it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke and opened in 1677.  311 narrow, winding steps take visitors to the top. It could perhaps be described as the 17th Century forerunner to The Shard’s somewhat loftier viewing platform.

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The Gilded Urn of Fire Atop The Monument

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

I head South out of The City Of London and cross back over the river to Bankside in the vibrant evening light.

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Tower Bridge Shimmers Magnificently As I walk over London Bridge

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Game Of Shards

The Inevitable Return Of The Shard iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016.

 

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A Tale Of Two Towers – The Shard And Southwark Cathedral

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells 2016

 

 

 

 

The Golden Hind

Tower 42 Glimpsed Beneath The Rigging Of The Golden Hind

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016

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A Trio Of City Towers And The Golden Hind 

Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells

 

                                            Time For A Sundowner?  Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells 2016

                               

No Busking

The Tower Of The Tate Modern Gallery

iphoneSE © Steve Swindells

sunset SillhouettesOn Millennium Bridge

Sunset Sillhouettes On The Millennium Bridge

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016

Walking Across The Millennium Bridge At Sundown

St Paul’s – And Pedestrians On The Millennium Bridge In The Golden Hour

iPhoneSE © Steve Swindells 2016

 

 

 

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The Switch House And Some Rich Houses!

 

 

 

 

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It Is What It Says On The Tin – The Oxo Tower

 

 

 

 

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Sunset Reflections

 

 

 

 

Sunset Towers

Eastward Ho! The Lights will Soon Come On –  All  four of the above taken on my Canon EOS 30D © Steve Swindells 2016.

 

 

 

Streetlamp Sunset

Streetlamp At Sunset – iPhoneSE.  All photos © Steve Swindells 2016 .  All rights Reserved.  Part II coming soon…

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Barcelona. October 2014.

2 Nov

On October the 22nd, my mother Audrey, my brother Mike and his wife Sylvie treated me to a five day holiday in Barcelona, which I hadn’t visited since 1988.  My mum, now a sprightly 86, had always loved my song Barcelona (now part of my alter-ego Thom Topham’s Multimedia eBook ‘My Unplanned Obsolescence’) and had never visited this magical city.

Following the recent death of my adoptive father Harold (her partner and soul-mate for over 55 years) in July, Audrey felt that her first holiday without him would possibly help to ease the pain of his passing and hopefully prove to be cathartic in enabling her to get over her loss. Also coming along for the ride were Mike and Sylvie’s son Thibault and my sister Josie and her husband Kae Bahar’s youngest, Leon.

Sylvie had booked a fantastic house via http://www.airbnb.co.uk for us to stay in in the very central CLOT area of Barcelona. This turned out to be an un-touristy, funky, largely working-class neighbourhood with a pedestrianised main street, a covered food market, great cafes and unpretentious restaurants and Parc Del Clot, a fabulous art/sports park which features ancient stoneworks, a wonderfully creative water feature, an outdoor squash court, a large paved area for people to play sports in and a long, pedestrian bridge overlooking it all.  It’s particularly attractive at night, when it is beautifully lit. Sylvie also booked our visits to Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia (now virtually complete interior-wise) Casa Batllo and Parc Guell  online in advance, which proved to be a wise move.

We also took a day trip – only €8 return on the train – to the lovely seaside resort of Sitges, which is also famous as the gay holiday capital of Spain.

By some excellent synchronicity, the week before I left I discovered on Facebook that my old French friend Serge, whom I hadn’t seen for 27 years (as he’d been living in Fiji and Morocco) was also going to be in Barcelona at exactly the same time.

I  suggest that you might like to listen to the song ‘Barcelona’, the lyric of which was written in the city in 1988, as you look at my pictures.  These were taken on my iPhone4 using the Camera Plus Pro app (which I’d thoroughly recommend), before being processed via Instagram.

All photos © Steve Swindells. 2014.

 

Just landed.  Barcelona.

Just landed. Barcelona.

 

 

 

Clot Station. Barcelona.

Clot Station. Barcelona.

 

Clot-Arago (the overground) Station Escalator.

Clot-Arago (the overground) Station Escalator.

 

Our House In Clot - For Five Days.

Our House In Clot – For Five Days. L-R; Sylvie, Thibault, Audrey and Mike.

 

Family Selfie - on Career Meridional.

Family Selfie – on Carrer Meridional.  Thibault, Audrey, myself and Leon.

 

My Room.

My bedroom.

 

Mike in the main bedroom, with its balcony overlooking the street.

Mike in the main bedroom, with its balcony overlooking the street.

 

The terrace from the balcony of Audrey's bedroom.

The terrace from the balcony of Audrey’s bedroom.

 

The view from the balcony of the main bedroom.

The view from the balcony of the main bedroom.

 

 

We're walking through Clot in the direction the sea.

We’re walking through Clot in the direction of the sea – which we were to find took about 25 minutes.  Audrey wisely headed back to the house after we’d come across the beautiful Parc Del Clot.

 

 

The covered market in Clot.

The covered market in Clot.

 

 

 

Then later on after dark...

Then later on after dark…

 

Barca. Archi-tower:modern:clot

 

 

 

How does this cantilevered skyscraper defy gravity?

How does this cantilevered skyscraper defy gravity?

 

 

Nearly at the beach...

Nearly at the beach…

 

 

Leon tries to move the goalposts.

Leon tries to move the goalposts.

 

 

Shadows.

Shadows.

 

 

Sun Going Down On The Beach.

Sun Going Down On The Beach.

 

 

 

Barca Street Furniture.

Barca Street Furniture.

 

 

Selfie Reflection.

Selfie Reflection.

 

 

Urban walls as viewed from the terrace.  9am.

Urban walls as viewed from the terrace of ‘our house’.

 

 

 

The view from the terrace at night.

The view from the terrace at night.

 

 

The Stairs.

The Stairs.

 

 

Mother and son after tapas.

Mother and son after eating tapas at a local eatery in Clot.

 

 

Eureka! The house has a dressing-up box!

Eureka! The house has a dressing-up box!

 

 

Thibault & Leon Go Go.

Thibault & Leon Go Go.

 

 

Serge has arrived for dinner.

Serge has arrived for dinner.

 

 

 

The Family Ham It Up!

The Family Ham It Up!

 

 

Serge, SS and Audrey,

Serge, SS and Audrey,

 

 

Thibault Camps It Up.

The Boys Are Back In Town

 

 

Barca. Dress-up. Thib.

 

 

Serge is an old pro!

Serge is an old pro!

 

 

Leon is cool.

Leon is cool.

 

 

Audrey in her fave cafe by the market.

Audrey in her fave cafe by the market, before we head for La Sagrada Familia.

 

La Sagrada Familia is a total must-see for people visiting Barca. The interior is virtually complete and the exterior will be  – but I have no idea how long it will take.

It certainly is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I’ve ever seen – especially internally (as a lot of the exterior is wrapped in scaffolding).  The music that they pipe into the building is quite magical too – like new-age, spiritual music from another world.  I’ve never heard anything like it.  I’m not religious at all – just naturally spiritual, but visiting this incredible basilica was an inspiring and moving experience.  Apart from when I stepped-out of the lift at the top of one of the towers.  I’m afraid to admit that I suffer from extreme vertigo, and this made me fall onto my knees and I had to literally crawl back in to the lobby of the lift.  My legs hurt like hell (no pun intended) just thinking about it.

La Sagrada Familia - a detail of one of the facades.

La Sagrada Familia – a detail of one of the facades.

 

 

Part of the main roof.  Astonishing.

Part of the ceiling and the soaring columns supporting it. Astonishing.

 

 

Audrey in the brilliant sunlight by the main doors.

Audrey in the brilliant sunlight in front of one of the awesome main doors.

 

 

God IS A DJ.

God Is A DJ.

 

 

 

Pillars lit by the sun pouring through the stunning stained-glass windows.

Pillars lit by the sun pouring through the stunning stained-glass windows.

 

 

Blue.

Blue.

 

 

Under The Blue Windows.

Under The Blue Windows.

 

The incredible ceiling above the nave.

The incredible ceiling above the nave.

Golden.

Golden.

 

 

One Of The Main Doors.

One Of The Main Doors.

 

 

 

Organ pipes coloured by the afternoon sunlight through the enormous stained glass windows.

Organ pipes coloured by the afternoon sunlight through the enormous stained glass windows.

 

 

The Ornate Ceiling From Below.

The Ornate Ceiling From Another Angle .

 

The following day, we took the train to the gorgeously funky seaside resort of Sitges and had a picnic on the beach before the boys (and men) braved the icy waters of the mediteranean (joking: it was lovely). It was a perfectly cloudless day and the temperature was 26 degrees.

A perfectly-formed roof terrace catches my eye as we walk towards the beach through the old town of Sitges.

A perfectly-formed roof terrace catches my eye as we walk towards the beach through the old town of Sitges.

 

 

Sitges. Art-Nouveau House

Sitges. beach

Sitges.  Audrey on beach

Leon and SS catching waves.

Leon and SS catching waves.

 

 

Thibault gets buried alive.

Thibault gets buried alive.

 

 

Sitges. Breakwater

Sitges from breakwater

This is my house, of course, I'm just renting it out at the moment… honest...

I’ve owned this house for years but of course I’m just renting it out at the moment… honest…

 

 

Sitges. Bendy medieval tower

Silhouettes on the breakwater.

Silhouettes on the breakwater.

 

Sitges. Silhuettes 2

The following day, we headed for the Gothic Quarter and The nearby Marina, before visiting Gaudi’s incredible Parc Guell.

A huge, metal sculpture dominates one of the main squares in The Gothic Quarter  - where we sat in the sunshine outside one of many cafes.

A huge, metal sculpture dominates one of the main squares in The Gothic Quarter – where we sat in the sunshine outside one of many cafes.

 

Barca.  Trina napkins

Audrey and I ambled through the gothic quarter down to the harbour.

Audrey and I ambled through the gothic quarter down to the harbour.

 

 

Streetlights designed by - yes, you guessed it - Gaudi.

Streetlights designed by – yes, you guessed it – Gaudi.

 

 

 

Barca, Goth Q street sunshine

 

Columbus Curve.

Columbus Curve.

 

 

Barca.  SS & Aud Marina Selfie

Barca Marina by Columbus

Floating Subuteo Sculpture in the harbour.

Floating Subuteo Sculpture in the harbour.

 

 

On The Metro Heading For Parc Guell - a Parallel Universe.

On The Metro Heading For Parc Guell – a Parallel Universe.

 

 

Barca, Parc Guell. View from abovejpg

‘The heat spreads like a blanket, on a hazy afternoon…’

Gaudi's mashed-up ceramic curves.

Gaudi’s mashed-up ceramic curves.

 

 

That's the cranes above La Sagrada Familia in the far distance.

That’s the cranes above La Sagrada Familia in the middle distance.

 

 

One of the two fantastical gatehouses.

One of the two fantastical gatehouses.

 

 

Barca. Parc Guell. Temple pillars

Audrey takes a well-earned, contemplative rest while the rest of us explore the gatehouse.

Audrey takes a well-earned, contemplative rest while the rest of us explore the gatehouse.

 

I wanted to show Serge our local Parc Del Clot at night.  He, like all of us, found it quite beguiling.  Then we heard loud music coming from the direction of Barelona’s answer to (or copy of) London’s ‘Gherkin’ and found ourselves at the opening of an exhibition of photos of reggae artists in Jamaica in the 70s and 80s, which was a coincidence, as Serge lived there for  seven years back then and had known quite a few of the subjects.  There was a free, outdoor reggae rave with cheap beer as well.  Our Saturday night’s entertainment was sorted!

After dinner...

After dinner…

SS in 'Graffiti Square' taken by Serge.

SS in ‘Plaza Graffita’ (as I dubbed it) taken by Serge.

 

 

Barca. ParcElClot. Woman:Dog2.

Sylvie and Mike dance in Parc Del Clot.

Sylvie and Mike dance in Parc Del Clot.

 

 

Barca. Parc El Clot & Akbar Tower

Serge enjoying Parc Del Clot.

Serge enjoying Parc Del Clot.

 

 

Serge at the reggae photo exhibition.

Serge at the reggae photo exhibition.

 

 

Barca. SS @ reggae exhib

People at the reggae rave.

People at the reggae rave.

 

 

Was it Sunday that we visited another of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Batllo?  We packed so much in (and all that Rioja) that I’ve probably got the timelines wrong. Who cares?

Incredible stained glass in extraordinary windows of the main living room of Casa Batllo.

Incredible stained glass in the extraordinary windows of the main living room of Casa Batllo.

 

 

 

The same windows from outside.

The same windows from outside.

 

 

Bet you've never seen chimneys like this before?

Bet you’ve never seen chimneys like this before?

 

 

The massive wall of smashed ceramics at the back of the huge terrace.

The massive wall of smashed ceramics at the back of the huge terrace.

 

 

Then we went to the beach at Barcelonetta, at the Marina end, near to the Olympic Park.

Barca. Jetskis marina

Looks like Audrey's in goal!

Looks like Audrey’s in goal!

 

Barca.  Skate park

 

 

Barca Sag Fam facade across lake

Barca. Playa. S +T

Ancient and modern.

Ancient and modern.

 

Then it was time for me to leave, as mine was a separate flight to Gatwick, and the rest of the family flew back to Bristol a little later. What a wonderful five days!

Goodbye! X

Goodbye! X

 

 

Getting ready to take-off as the sun goes down.

Getting ready to take-off as the sun goes down.

 

 

Barca. EasyJet Clouds over France

Images Of An Indian Summer.

7 Oct

London. September and October 2014

All pictures taken on my iPhone 4, using the Camera Plus Pro app, then processed in Instagram.

© Steve Swindells. All Rights Reserved.

 The musical accompaniment is my moody autumnal ambient track A Peace Of My Mind

Graffiti Tunnel, Hackney Wick.

Graffiti Tunnel, Hackney Wick.

 

 

Hackney Wick.  Canal Warehouse, rusty tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hackney Wick.  Canal, boats, rusty tower

 

 

Hackney Wick. Graffitipub

Hackney Wick. Skatepark

Hackney Wick. Feet

Hackney Wick. Sunlit Graffiti tunneljpg

Broadwick s,t Soho

Broadwick St, Soho

 

Rainy street, Soho.

Rainy street, Soho.

Rainy Soho Fabric Shop Berwick St

 

Ella…ella.

Ella…ella.

 

Berwick St Market, Soho.

Berwick St Market, Soho.

 

Trellick Tower Cocktail. Made.com Showroom, Notting Hill Gate.

Trellick Tower Cocktail. Made.com Showroom, Notting Hill Gate.

 

 

 

Egg-Timer Cruet.

Egg-Timer Cruet.

 

Afternoon sunlight - Newcombe House Notting Hill Gate

CZech embassy Sculpture gdn

 

 

Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Gardens.

 

Sunset Lake, Kenington Gdns. 1. 10. 14

Serpentine Bridge.

Serpentine Bridge.

 

Serpentine Gallery

The Monolithic Henry Moore Sculpture By The Serpentine.

The Monolithic Henry Moore Sculpture By The Serpentine.

 

 

The Italian Garden.

The Italian Garden.

 

Lovers On A Canal Bridge.

Lovers On A Canal Bridge.

 

Canal Oct Walzing Weasel

3 Swans

Orange Is The New… Houseboat.

Orange Is The New… Houseboat.

 

POWERDAY reflected.

POWERDAY reflected.

 

A Rainbow Over Willesden.

A Rainbow Over Willesden.

 

Roundwood Park, Harlesden.

Roundwood Park, Harlesden.

Canal Knowledge. Grand Union. 2013 – June 2014.

26 Jun

Graffiti Blue Bridgeshipwreck-too Instagram pics taken along the Grand Union Canal in Harlesden, Ladbroke Grove, Kensal Green and Park Royal in London in 2013 and 2014.

Taken on my iPhone using the Camera Plus Pro app, then converted into Instagram en masse later. All photos © Steve Swindells.ImageImageImage

ImageGreen Gaffiti BridgeThe ghost of Hunter S thompsonThe White Stripes

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All Human Beings Welcome.

10 Mar
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Party goers at The Lift Reunion Party at Queer Nation, Feb 8th 2014

Gay and straight and black and white united.

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Early in 1982, I was in New York City and spent several memorable nights at the legendary Paradise Garage, an extraordinary gay club in a former car park where 3,000 people of all ages, colours and backgrounds danced to the funkiest, loudest black music imaginable. I can remember thinking: why isn’t there a gay club  that plays music like this in London and attracts a totally mixed black, white, gay, straight, up-for-it crowd? In the early 80s, most gay clubs played anodyne and dreary so-called ‘gay disco’, or ‘high-energy’ music and were populated almost exclusively by mustachio’d white males – generally known as clones. I resolved to do something about it.

If there was one hotspot in London that year it had to be The Gargoyle Club, which had last been fashionable in the 1930s. It occupied the fifth and sixth floors of an office building in Meard Street in Soho. It was operating as a fairly seedy strip joint until 10.30pm after which it was transformed into different club nights run by various promoters. The club was only accessible by a tiny lift. Visiting the club one night, I had a light bulb moment after noticing several clutches of cool-looking (definitely not cloney) mostly black, gay men in dark corners of the room, clearly enjoying the amazing music and fantastic energy of the night.

The idea of The Lift was born.  Why shouldn’t I launch London’s first ever, underground, hip, diverse and inclusive gay club night right there?

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The Lift opening party was a huge success and the music and atmosphere was electric. The flyer encouraged people to “bring your mother” – and people did! The crowd was deliciously mixed and  even included Susan Sarandon. The Lift went on to run successfully until 1987 in various West End venues, and it was immortalized as The Shaft  by Booker Prize Winner Alan Hollinghurst in his first novel The Swimming Pool Library. Later that year, The Face magazine ran a double-page interview with me, during the time that The Lift was situated at the end of a dark alley behind Tottenham Court Road tube station.

The Face interview picture (David Johnson)

The Face interview picture (David Johnson)

The Lift had most definitely arrived – and it was hip. Next up, The Lift  hosted London’s first-ever underground, all-night, illegal rave in a four-storey warehouse in Rivington Street in Shoreditch (which was then just an industrial, working-class area) and it was a massive success. There had been no glossy flyers, just a photocopied sheet which simply read “Memorise And Destroy” with the address, date and time printed below. The dance floor was in the basement, which was accessed by a rickety, wooden staircase. By midnight, it was a sweaty, heaving mass of wildly boogieing bodies. The other floors were chill-out areas, which I’d decorated with shower curtaining that I’d spray-painted with abstract designs – all pretty low-fi. The atmosphere was buzzing, sexy and warm.  Some plain-clothed police  arrived at around 5am, but they were really polite and pleasant and simply asked me to turn the music down, then left.

Fast-forward 30-odd years to Febuary the 8th, 2014 and my Lift reunion party at the long-running, leading black-music, gay club night Queer Nation, which is held on the second Saturday of every month at Bar Code in Vauxhall. I got there early to find the front bar already busy and the original Lift DJ Mel pumping out the soulful classics.  Soon, true to the original spirit of the club, my friend Marlon arrived with his mother Angela.

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Well known Gay Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell – a regular at The Lift back in the day – arrived, followed by Vernal Scott, the handsome author and diversity, HIV and AIDS media commentator. They were later to make inspirational and heartfelt speeches about LGBT History Month and all our community has achieved over the years, before the main dance floor opened and over 600 people got their groove on until 6am.  I’m happy to say that ‘All Human Beings Welcome’ – The Lift’s original slogan – still very much applies and was celebrated with great gusto after all these years.

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I was chatting on the phone with my mum the other day and told her that I was going to be writing a couple of articles to coincide with LGBT History Month.  She then had a bit of a June Whitfield-in-Ab-Fab-moment, asking: “Is that something to do with London transport dear?” I laughed and replied, “No, it’s the rather ungainly acronym for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender – not the greatest bit of  21st century branding really, but hey…”

I ‘came out’ to my family as bisexual in 1970, because I was. Then I decided that I preferred men when I was 21 – the year I moved to London – and they’ve always been completely fine with it. I’ve often slept with boyfriends in the room next door to my parents, with their knowledge and consent.

I’d opened The Lift after visiting  several largely black, illegal, gay, house parties (or ‘Blues’ as they were generally known), which were usually held in council flats in South London. People were charged £1 or so to enter, beers were the same price, with spirits costing maybe £2. They were unlawful because money was changing hands, in completely unlicensed premises. The music was always pumping and comprised mostly of black Amercian and Jamaican imports and the flats were always packed – with a large queue for the only toilet. My memories are of lots of beautiful men, much bumping ‘n grinding, clouds of weed smoke, really good vibes and no trouble at all. I don’t recall the police closing any down, but this was before the days of the dreaded Environmental Health Police, or whatever they’re called.

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Photo by Dave Swindells

After The Lift’s successful first warehouse rave in Shoreditch in 1983, I went on to successfully hold several more in various venues, mostly in South London. For example, my New Year’s Eve bash in a band rehearsal complex (the sound-proofing was a definite plus) on the top floor of a warehouse in Clink Street, near the now achingly fashionable Borough Market where over 500 polysexual people partied ‘til dawn and beyond. The positively Orwellian year that we were seeing in was 1984 –  so I decided to call this rave Big Brother Blues. Again, there was no trouble, no police, no worries – and all for three quid, including authentic West Indian food.

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I started a bit of a Lift tradition by holding a Bank Holiday Blues. Most people wouldn’t be working the next day, after all.  With the second one, I took a bit of a risk by holding it in what was usually the old peoples’ social and dominoes club in the middle of one of Stockwell’s most notorious sink estates with its  graffiti-covered, grey concrete walkways, abandoned shopping trollies and burnt-out cars. Well, at this night, there was a problem.  One particularly flamboyant, queen got mugged by local teenagers on BMX bikes on his way to the party. He came rushing in and recruited a vigilante ‘posse’ of about 20 party-goers (most of whom happened to have their tops off) to get his wallet back (and steal the boys’ bikes for good measure). This task was successfully accomplished by employing the shock tactic of the muggers being potentially ‘queer-bashed’… by a bunch of queers.

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They triumphantly bought the bikes back in and we bolted the doors. Was this the first instance of what might be termed ‘poof-power’?  Some of the muggers’ big brothers started banging on the doors and I got my two, very large, gay black security guards to go out and inform them: “Right, there are 400 angry batty men in here who are gonna come out and rape your asses unless you fuck off. You can have your baby bro’s bikes back when we’ve finished partying!” A bit of a hairy moment – but everyone went home happy.

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Photo by Dave Swindells

There were many more successful and trouble-free Lift all-nighters over the next few years in various unusual and left-field venues.  The only one that almost matched the potential danger and drama of the Bank Holiday Blues in Stockwell, was when a DJ on Kiss FM announced (unsolicited) that we were holding a rave in a dance studio complex in Covent Garden, resulting in us having to barricade ourselves (nearly a thousand people) in the building as a near riot erupted outside, caused by the hundreds unable to get in.  The police came and cleared the street – having been told that by me “this was supposed to be a private party.” We carried on drinking and dancing until dawn.

Photo 12

Steve Swindells.

This is an amalgam of two articles which first appeared in Planet Ivy in Febuary 2014.

All photos (and flyer designs) by Steve Swindells, unless otherwise stated.

Sex N’ Drugs N’ Sausage Rolls

3 Mar

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A multimedia collection of short stories and true tales by Steve Swindells 

https://steveswindells.wordpress.com/about

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