Sunday, January 24, 2010

To Catch an Angel, not a Terrorist, by The Landless Landlord

A whole line of signs particularly under threat is surely those relating to the nation's naval history. With the fall of the Empire, their relevance is fading from the nation's consciousness. Their continued existence, particularly in the metropolitan areas, is one of those anomalies cast by the forces of inertia on the shores of the present, the 100-gun First Rates swinging over our high streets appearing more ghostly every year.

I've been learning over these posts that, given the disappearance of the pubs, the question of the signs has to be approached increasingly obliquely, the attention forced to direct itself away from the swinging panels, to stray even from the pubs, taking on the surrounding world itself.

At Albertopolis it was the memorial that, having become the original, was blotting out the pubs, the Prince Alberts, the Albert Armses - if you can coin a word for a disappearing thing -, or all those others created in what were surely the hostelry's greatest boom years, closed, renamed.

But the crux came for me at Islington, where the Community Support officer tried to force an angel from my camera, unaware it was even there, by means of Section 44, the supposed anti-terror law. Preservation even of the traces would be the matter of a struggle against time.

It was clear that, if I wanted to grasp the true nature of the naval genre before it sank entirely from view, I would have to converge on the sign at their centre.

But time was short. The possibility existed yesterday, and for only a couple of hours. Since the Angel event, and given two encounters of the Windowless, I've been following as much as possible other stories on the same subject. It would appear that, under the banner 'I'm a Photographer, not a Terrorist', there's a group dedicated to keeping present the possibility of capturing what are, in the terms they presented themselves at Islington, images of the Angel. On Saturday 23 January, Trafalgar Square, they were suggesting, that possibility would be on the line.

A 'Community' policeman tried for while to police, tried to enlist the 'real' police on his side, gave up. A street entertainer, baffled at the number, the nature of these tourists, the size of their cameras, their interest in him, each other, anything, made an impressive attempt at life as usual.

The point was to go there, to photograph, to be seen to be photographing. The event to photograph was the event making the point, the point being go there to be seen photographing, being photographed. The thing to record was to be the event recording it. This, surely, would be the test, not only of the Albertopolis theory, but of theory of the Angel, and in the hope of preserving not only the naval battle sign, its epitome in Trafalgar, but also of course, beneath it, a bar, a pint, a stool and a pleasant din, around it, the possibility of following where they're going, with the First Rates, Angels, and Alberts, of course, only a start.


  1. "plus tu prends des photos, plus la réalité disparait".
    à moins que ce ne soit l'inverse.

  2. A quote of that ilk is displayed on a banner at the following site: , a rather pro photographer / cameraman's interpretation of the events.