Edward Heath’s Feet. Photo & text: Angus Forbes

10 Downing Street, June 19, 1970. © Angus Forbes.

Angus Forbes writes:

1964, October 16: Sir Alec Douglas-Home, UK prime minister, had been defeated by Harold Wilson at yesterday’s general election. Your photographer went to number 10 Downing Street and took pictures of a remarkable event – the ritual departure of the vanquished incumbent. To boos and jeers from the crowd opposite, Home came out the front door, waved cheesily, climbed into the ministerial car and was whisked away for ever.

1970, June 19: Harold Wilson had been defeated by Edward Heath at yesterday’s general election. Your photographer, who was working on a shoe catalogue at the time, left the studio for Downing Street to make the second in a possible portfolio of prime ministers leaving their official residence for the last time. Finding Fleet Street there in force, he asked what was going on. He was told that Wilson had ducked out the back way and no one had got a shot, but Heath’s arrival was imminent.

When Heath’s car drove up media crews formed a solid phalanx around him. Your photographer couldn’t get a look-in. All he was seeing was backs of heads. A clear aspect could only be achieved by lying flat on the ground and framing between the legs of the cameramen. Suddenly your photographer seemed to be back in his studio, shooting the shoe catalogue; the difference being that the shoes now confronting his lens were those being worn by a newly-elected head of government who for the first-ever time had his feet on the actual threshold of power and was making his victory speech live on national television.

Next day a woman threw a tin of paint over Edward Heath at Downing Street and since then security has been too tight for exercises such as your photographer was twice lucky enough to perform.

… for The London Column. © Angus Forbes 2011.

…………………………………….© Angus Forbes 1970.

Dmitri Kasterine. Text: Tim Turnbull. (4/5)


Hailing a cab, Mayfair, 1965. © Dmitri Kasterine.

Black Cab Blues by Tim Turnbull:

All Hail! All Hail! the cabbies of London,
who are rammed to the gunwales with Knowledge;
so stuffed to the gills with it that it would turn
any lesser bloke’s brains into porridge.

Wave! Wave your brolly! and preen there bespokely,
the cut of your coat won’t persuade them to stop;
they do if they want, and for that reason only –
they’re nothing if not democratic, Old Cock.

Hark! O Hark! to their myriad opinions
but don’t venture yours, they’re never impressed –
you’re not in chambers, they’re not your minions
and so, for all your rhetorical prowess,

you’re bleeding mistaken if you think they might
go sarf uther river at this time o’night.

… for The London Column. © Tim Turnbull 2011.

Dmitri Kasterine. Text: Tim Wells. (3/5)

Tailor, Putney. Photo © Dmitri Kasterine.

Dead Man’s Pockets by Tim Wells: 

Things found in the pockets of Tim Wells, Saturday Night, 28.02.09

Right coat pocket – mobile phone (Liquidator as ringtone), spectacles.

Ticket pocket – a dozen of his own business cards, business cards for Niall O’Sullivan, Alice Gee and  S. Reiss Menswear, return train ticket to Epsom.

Left coat pocket – keys – England fob, poem entitled ‘Self-Portrait as a P G Tips Chimp’, flyer for 14 Hour 14th march show with Karen Hayley, Ashna Sarkar, Amy Blakemore and others.

Inside coat pocket – an Elvis pen.

Right trouser pocket – £8.56 in assorted change.

Left trouser pocket – empty

Hip pocket – Oyster card and wallet

Wallet (black leather) – £160 in twenty pound notes, dry cleaning ticket, Leyton Orient FC membership card from 87/88 season, visa and cash card, picture of Joan Collins in window nook, horoscope stating ‘The first thing you have to ask yourself is what has to go; the second is what is going to take its place; and the third is where will I go to celebrate. Day done.’

© Tim Wells 2009.

Dmitri Kasterine. Text: David Secombe (1/5)

Croquet, Hurlingham Club, 1980. © Dmitri Kasterine.

This week, The London Column is featuring the work of Dmitri Kasterine. Before leaving London for New York thirty years ago, Kasterine was a sympathetic and perceptive commentator on the English scene: his portraits of artists and writers (including Samuel Beckett, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, etc.) are familiar and definitive images for posterity – and his social documentary work, which we are showing, is impeccably witty and elegant.

In this photograph, we see a croquet player in a shortie raincoat (clothes are important in Kasterine’s pictures) braving inclement weather to play against – whom? The field is empty, autumn leaves strewn across the lawn; summer is over, the spectators have left, hours or possibly days earlier. His grip on the mallet is assured yet faintly desperate. He is playing against himself and no-one cares – except the photographer. This is croquet transformed into an existential game – or, perhaps, a nightmare from an H.M. Bateman cartoon: The Man Who Played Croquet After the Pleasure Garden Had Shut. D.S.