Sunday, November 26, 2023

53 Photos

My life as a keen photographer started some 53 years ago - in 1970. And so it seems apposite to feature 53 of the favourite photographs I have taken over this more than half a century.

I have picked out pictures I like for their composition or feel, taking into account various considerations and where possible giving details of when and where they were taken, and, for photography buffs, any information I have about camera, film, aperture, shutter speed and so on. (All images are my copyright.)

1. 1970. Little Brother. This picture is from the very first film I ever took. I persuaded my mum to help me get a Kodak Instamatic 25 camera through an offer on the back of a cereal packet. I recall excitedly collecting the tokens and the delight I felt when this very simple camera arrived. The Instamatic 25 had two settings, sunny or cloudy, which presumably changed the shutter speed from slow to even slower. It had a small, wide-angle lens and was clunky to use. I was upset that quite a few of this debut film came out blurred. I really had no idea what I was doing and my dear parents, who did not themselves own a camera, had no tips to give me. My first film was a 20-exposure Kodak 126 cartridge black and white negative film. This picture, of my younger brother Nic in a woolly hat with a football, was the seventh picture I took. It is the back garden of our home in Hurst Lane, Cumnor, Oxfordshire.    

2. 1971. First Bike. Nic on his first bicycle, doing an hand signal to turn right. I assume he was preparing for a cycling proficiency test of some sort. I think I took it in the front garden of our house in Hurst Lane, Cumnor,  Oxfordshire. The focus is not very sharp. Kodak Instamatic 25, probably sunny setting. The film was a 20-exposure Kodak 126 black and white cartridge. This picture was the third image on the film. In 1971, I also completed a school project entitled Photography My Hobby. It contained photographs, drawings of cameras and sections on cameras, how they work and what to watch out for when you take a photograph. In Diagram B, I drew and wrote about my Kodak Instamatic 25 camera: "It has 6 instruments : the film wind is to turn on to the next photograph, the accessory shoe is to put a FLASH CUBE on for indoor pictures, the viewfinder is look at the thing you are photographing, the lens to let in light when necessary and of course the shutter release. When you are ready, click, you have taken one of your photographs." 


3. 1972. The Heath. Even in the early days I wanted to capture what I perceived as beautiful - such as the heathland beside the recreation ground at the end of our road in Broadstone. This is not a great shot but I still recall wanting to photograph the pine tree, the solo house in the distance and the lovely terrain in the sunshine that day. The picture is a bit blurry and was taken with my Kodak Instamatic 25, presumably on sunny setting, on black and white Kodak 126 cartridge negative film. It was the first photograph on the film.


4. 1973. Good Catch. My dad, the late Robin Wilson, catching a ball in the back garden of our house in Charborough Road, Broadstone, Poole, Dorset. I recall being pleased the picture was not more blurred because it was taken with my basic Kodak Instamatic 25, which must have had slow shutter speeds. I used a 12-exposure Kodak 126 cartridge colour negative film. I believe I took it in September 1973. 

5. 1974. Three Wheeler. A rather strange image from a year in which I only took 12 photographs, on a 12-exposure Kodak 126 cartridge using my Kodak Instamatic 25 camera. I noted at the time I took this picture of a three-wheeled car, at Sandbanks, Poole, although I cannot remember the exact location. The car is an odd little vehicle, possibly Eastern European. It would have been a rare sight. Sadly, the print has not survived so I have taken this image, the last one I took in 1974, from the colour negative, partly explaining the poor quality. It's not great but I find it interesting - like a fuzzy peek into a bygone era. 

6. 1975. Beating The Bounds. My photography took a massive step forward in 1975 when I saved enough Green Shield Stamps to buy a Halina 3000 camera from the Green Shield Stamp shop in Christchurch, Bournemouth. Although it would be considered basic now, I could not believe my good fortune in having possession of what I considered to be "a proper camera". The Halina 3000 featured shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/250 of a second plus B (which I never used), apertures from f/2.8 to f/16 and a 45mm, 1:2.8 lens. This picture was on the first film I took with my new camera and also the first on 35mm film. I used Orwo colour transparency film (speed unknown), which I am sure I bought for its cheapness and the fact the processing was included in the purchase price. Incidentally, it wasn't my first foray into slides - my previous film had been a 126 cartridge Kodachrome colour transparency one on which I had recorded a school trip in 1975 to Stonehenge, using my faithful Kodak Instamatic 25. This picture, however, is of the Beating of the Bounds - an old tradition of the town's folk and fishermen sailing round the harbour boundary in Poole in Dorset before returning to Poole Quay for some additional drinks. I remember being in the crush of the crowd, feeling and loving the excitement and sheer joy of the event. I believe that comes across in this photograph. That day I felt like a real photographer!

7. 1976. Rembrandt Strasse. This was taken at Easter 1976 in Bremen, West Germany, on the balcony of 11a Rembrandt Strasse, the home of our German grandmother. It is of my brothers Edgar and Nic, looking very happy. I was always trying to capture more than one thing in a photograph. I wanted a picture of my older and younger brothers but also one of the houses and foliage behind which I found appealed. It was taken on my Halina 3000 on 35mm colour transparency Kodachrome film, probably 25ASA (otherwise, 64ASA) - slow film. It is slights blurry but doesn't suffer for that, in my view. It was the 15th picure on a 20-exposure film, although I squeezed 21 pictures out of it.    

8. 1977. The Bench. It was in this year that I started processing my own films and printing, developing and fixing my own prints, in the school darkroom at Poole Grammar School. As a member of the Photographic Society I was allowed to book the surprisingly well-equipped darkroom. I jumped at the chance. I felt a calling to darkroom work - and also wanted to avoid the bullies at lunchtimes! In truth, I was pretty terrible at developing and processing. Trying to develop a film, I would end up double-loading the film on the spool, destroying most of the negatives. For instance on this film, which was 125ASA 35mm black and white Ilford FP4, I ruined 24 out of the 36 pictures on the negatives during developing. Even some of the survivors were badly blemished. Nevertheless, I love this picture of an empty bench at Evening Hill, Poole,  Dorset, which was one of my first prints (my dad had not been pleased when I took a bus to Westbourne to buy the photographic paper I used) and taken with my Halina 3000 camera. I don't know why I like this picture so much. I suppose it speaks to me of an almost forgotten time when standing on a hill and enjoying a sunset was magical to me. 

9.  1978. Sandbanks Windbreak. I took only two films in 1978 - both sets of transparencies. There is an interesting picture of a sailing boat in collision with the Sandbanks chain ferry with a motor launch struggling to rescue it, but I have chosen this one of my parents behind our windbreak. One doesn't see windbreaks a great deal on beaches these days but in the 1970s your windbreak was essential piece of beach equipment, not only for protecting you from the wind but also for changing in privacy. It was taken with my Halina 3000 on 35mm colour slide film of unknown make. I think I must have bought the film cheaply from an Amateur Photographer advertisement and processed it myself with the help of a friend of my older brother. I certainly put it into the mounting myself (not very well!) It was taken at Sandbanks beach, Poole, a favourite spot of the Wilson family in the late afternoons and early evenings during the glorious summer months. I have cropped the picture a bit. 

10. 1979. Bremen Osterwieser. Visiting the Osterwieser (the Easter Fair) in Bremen, West Germany, was a highlight of our annual holidays. Although we were not allowed by our parents to go on many of the rides, we enjoyed the excitement and atmosphere of the massive fairground, built in the car park of the city's sports stadium, the Stadthalle. I have chosen this picture - taken on Fuji slide film - because it captures the spirit of the Osterweise: the bustling stalls, a thrilling ride, the throng of people in the shadow of the iconic Stadthalle. I also like the way one man is walking towards the cameras while almost everyone else is walking away from it. It was taken with my Halina 3000, probably at 1/250 second, and was the 11th picture on a 36-exposure slide film out of which I squeezed 37 photos. That concludes the 1970s - a decade in which I took 33 films - 12 of them black and white. Colour transparency was my preferred medium. 

11. 1980. Student Climber. At the Freshers' Fair at Hull University, I had joined the Mountaineering Society and embarked on the first trip of the academic year, to the Lake District. I don't recall taking this picture or the boy in it but I do find it slightly disturbing. He seems boggle-eyed and blurriness contributes to its weird nature. Unusually, I took this picture on black and white transparency film, made by Agfa-Gevaert, probably 200ASA Agfa Scala 200x. This was the fourth slide from the film of the 30 that have survived. Looking at other pictures, I can see we were a long way up at the time, and it strikes me I must also have been climbing to have taken the picture - which probably means I took one-handed! The camera was my new Nikon EM, a Single Lens Reflex camera with a standard Series E 35mm 1:2.5 lens. It was my first acquisition when I received my student grant and a big step up from the Halina 3000. It is an automatic with shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second and boasted an aperture range from f/2.5 to f/22. I loved it and still use it to this day. I wonder what happened to the boy in the photograph. Was he scared at the time or just pulling a face at the camera?

12. 1981. Humber Ferry. This photograph is special to me for various reasons. I was born in Scunthorpe and my parents told me they had taken me to Hull on the Barton-on-Humber Ferry when I was a baby. So,  when I was in my first year at the University of Hull, one winter's afternoon I cycled from my hall of residence in Cottingham to Hull Pierhead to take the Humber Ferry to Barton. It was still running because the Humber Bridge was not quite complete (it opened a few months later in June 1981, at which juncture the Ferry retired). I recall the day I sailed on her was bitterly cold, light and dark. At Barton, I took some photographs of a chapel and returned to Hull. It was getting late. I love this picture of the ferry arriving at Hull Pierhead. I used inexpensive transparency film which I processed and mounted myself. I like it because the clouds are very vivid and the sea and darkened ferry are just as I remember them. I used my Nikon EM with its 35mm f/2.5 lens. Looking through my 1981 pictures, they were mainly slides and I took quite a lot of good, interesting photographs of life as a student at Hull University. An exciting time for me! 
13. 1982. Punch 'n' Judy Man. Visiting London with a friend, I captured this delightful sight at the Piazza, Covent Garden. I love the fascination the children had for the Punch 'n' Judy Man's show and the way he had moved it outside of the traditional stripy tent. I took the picture on Kodak colour negative film (probably 200ASA) with my Nikon EM with its 35mm standard lens.
14. 1983. Berlin Squat. In the summer of 1983, I went hitch-hiking in Holland and Germany, taking in West Berlin. This picture is of a squat in Kreutsburg, very near to the Berlin Wall. I recall it was quite scary hitching through communist East Germany, particularly with a passport that showed me as a 10-year-old boy! In West Berlin, I slept rough in a playground and hurt my arm. Still, I found it exhilarating and I particularly liked Kreutsburg squats like this one which overlooked the Berlin Wall. The spirited graffiti and old, battered cars add so much to the shot. I used colour negative "Kodak Safety Film 5075" and my Nikon EM with its 35mm standard lens.

15. 1984. Party Sleeper. The young reporters and photographers of the Hull Daily Mail threw some pretty wild and drunken house parties. This picture is of a reveller who crashed out after one party and probably awoke with the mother of all hangovers. This was my first foray into using high-speed film. I splashed out on a roll of Fuji colour negative 1,600ASA stock, with my usual Nikon EM and standard 35mm f/2.5 lens.

16. 1985. Last Night at the Hull Zoological. The famous Zoological pub, at the top of Beverley Road, was being demolished to make way for a new Hull Daily Mail. I loved that pub, which had been there as the Zoological since the 1840s and as a pub under other names since at least 1815, and wanted to capture its sad demise. Unsurprisingly, the pub was packed on its last ever night (2 March 1985) and I took quite a few pictures of my friends from the paper and some regulars, but I particularly liked this photograph of the barmaids. They were rushed off their feet that night which, of course, ended with a lock-in. I used 1,600ASA Fuji film and my Nikon EM with its standard 35mm f/2.5 lens. I still hadn't found the money to buy any other lenses.

17. 1986. Young Love. As a reporter at the Hull Daily Mail I was asked to cover a week-long charity sailing trip, from Hull to Great Yarmouth, with a group of young people from Hull, on a 75 -foot-long yacht. I jumped at the chance. One young man on board stood out. He was charming and funny - and the girls loved him, as you can see from this portrait he invited me to take. I have fond memories of that trip, although I was asked to be a crew member on account of someone not turning up. I recall having to get out of my berth at 4am to do a four-hour watch in freezing, foggy conditions in the North Sea. I enjoyed it though. For this picture, I used 400ASA Fuji colour negative film,  and my trusty Nikon EM with 35mm lens.
18. 1987. Sky Blue Heaven. When Coventry City Football Club won the FA Cup in May 1987, the whole city united in a spontaneous street party. I took quite a lot of pictures that day, but I particularly like this one because it reflects the multi-culturalism of Coventry and the mutual joy felt by all on that great occasion. I used Fuji colour negative 400ASA film and my Nikon EM with 35mm lens.

19. 1988. Two Pints of Guinness. Working for the Coventry Evening Telegraph in the last 1980s, I wrote the pop column, and my dear friend Jason Tilley took the photographs for it. This is a picture I snatched of Jason emerging into the garden of a Coventry pub (I believe it is the Black Horse, Spon End - sadly later demolished) with two pints of Guinness for us. I used his camera, a Nikon FM which he had left with me, and whatever black and white negative film he had in it. Jason, a great photographer who went on to do brilliant work in India as well as amazing rock concert photography, processed and printed the picture. I like his impish smile when he realises I am about to take his picture, while he maintains his concentration on not spilling a drop of Guinness. 

20. 1989. Doggy Island. On holiday on the idyllic island of Levanzo, Sicily, I came across this lovely dog. He would hang around on the harbour wall, glancing back at you as if to say: "Come on! Follow me! I want to show you something." He was brilliant at it - like an unpaid tourist guide. I took the picture with an Olympus AF-1 - a sureshot camera with an automatic winder. I liked using it, although, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that with many of the images I took with it, the automatic flash didn't help! No such problem with this picture, which was taken in bright sunlight, on colour negative film.

21. 1990. Sunlit Girl. This year is a bit lean for my pictures as many are lost or otherwise unavailable. However, I like this one of my university friend Belinda basking in strong sunlight from behind her, into which she seems to melt. She looks so joyful. I took it with my Olympus AF-1 camera using colour negative film but prefer it in black and white.

22. 1991. Budapest Decay. I visited Budapest, Hungary, to write a travel piece and found much to like about it - friendly people, punk clubs and great bath houses. However, the air was hugely polluted and many of the buildings were falling apart after decades of neglect under communism. This was a typical scene, featuring a couple of super-polluting Trabants and a block of flats that has seen better days. I used by Olympus AF-1 camera and colour negative film, although I like it in this black and white version.

23. 1992. Red Snow. I love it when something goes wrong and you get an interesting effect. Getting more photos than you are supposed to out of a roll has always been an interest of mine. Sometimes it leads to a partially exposed first picture - as with this gloriously red, yellow and orange photograph of a snowy day on Clissold Crescent, London N16. I used colour negative film and my Nikon EM with 35mm standard lens.




Thursday, August 18, 2022

Tim Cornwell RIP

Devastated to hear of the death of my old friend Tim Cornwell, a fellow trainee reporter at the Hull Daily Mail from 1984-86.

I am not going to repeat Tim's obituary - The Scotsman, where he later worked for many years, has done him proud. 

However, I would like to pay a personal tribute to a good-natured, kind and entertaining man.

The Tim Cornwell I knew was flush with merriment. 

He laughed a lot, although sometimes I wondered if it was the yarns of journalism and life that he found so amusing or the people telling them.

Back in the 1980s, when we were cub reporters together in Hull, East Yorkshire, the social life passed in an alcoholic haze.

I recall a riotous all-night party at Tim's rented flat, and a similarly uproariously drunken gathering at mine (image left). The properties were left in a sorry state!

Many years later, when we renewed our acquaintance at the Edinburgh Fringe, which he was covering for the Scotsman and I was for The Stage newspaper, we reflected more soberly on our lives and travails.

I remember Tim's immense kindness. 

When I told him my long narrative poem was being published in book form, he was full of enthusiasm for this modest effort and interviewed me and engineered a contrived hook to pen a piece about it for The Scotsman.

On another occasion, he told me of his mental health issues, but did not fail to smile and laugh about what he had been through.

You could not but admire his courage, laughing in the face of adversity.

And although I suspected he did not like being photographed, he happily posed for my pictures.

There was also a mischievous side to him. 

I once received a text message from Tim saying that he could not meet up in Edinburgh city centre because he had to lie low for fear of a ferocious Australian funnyman who was after him because he had exposed an act of sharp practice in the comic's publicity material! 

There was a trenchant side to Tim who was willing to speak up when others were falling short, pushing their luck or acting pretentiously. 

The last I heard from Tim was earlier this year when he got in touch to apologise for not coming to my 60th birthday party. How astonished I would have been to know he would never reach that age. He seemed happy and mentioned he had been working on a book involving his late father.

Tim was a one-off, affable and a tad shy, sometimes laughing at what I said while quizzically looking at me like he didn't really believe a word!

I'll miss you, Tim.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Sun Sets


Friday, December 31, 2021

The Fight Against 'Cashism'


Over the torrid past 21 months, Britain has changed almost beyond recognition - and not really for the better.

One of these horrid Covid trends is what I call "cashism"  - the refusal by some retailers to accept The Queen's coinage.

To be fair, this little bit of political correctness started before coronavirus had been heard of by most people. 

I recall a trendy coffee shop in Bermondsey Street, London, refusing to take cash in 2019.

It is interesting that it is the right-on establishments that seem to think that banishing real money is a good thing to do. 

I well remember the look of shock on the waitress's face when I told her that refusing to accept cash was discrimination against the poorest of the poor - adults without bank accounts. 

As well as children.

Yet, when retailers get it into their heads that something is fashionable, politically correct and "worthy", all logic goes out of the window. 

You see the same happening with bags. Some charity shops are now charging 10p for a paper bag, even though the Government's tax on plastic bags does not ask them to do this. It's a scam, plain and simple. The charity shop is profiteering on the back of political correctness, charging many times the cost of the paper bag and defenestrating good customer service.

But to get back to cash, it is painful that something that is so important to many people - and vital to the vulnerable - is being discarded under the slippery cloak of Covid. 

Caffe Nero, for instance, will not accept cash in most of its branches. Neither will Starbucks - and many the other so-called hospitality businesses. 

Often the lame excuse offered by staff is that cash spreads Covid-19, even though that is not the guidance from the World Health Organisation or the Bank of England, which points out the risk is no greater than touching any other surface. 

Newspapers have been inundated by complaints from their readers about this nefarious practice, another disgusting milestone on the decline of Britain's retail sector. 

Parents have had to make dashes to restaurants to pay the bill for their teenage kids when the restaurateur has refused to take cash for birthday parties et cetera.

Many others are being excluded entirely because of this blatant discrimination. 

For me, it indicates once again how political correctness is being used for corporate greed and the pandemic is being taken as a reason to attack freedom and push discriminatory political agendas.

It just goes to show how selfish society has become.

I am tempted to form the Anti-Cashist League (ACL) to fight cashism. 

It is important that when you are refused your right to use cash in an outlet, you make a complaint. 

In Northern Ireland, for instance, coffee shop chains have been forced into a U-turn by the people - and take cash again.

And it is great to see a bit of spirit occasionally, with right-minded shops refusing to take debit and credit cards.

Good for you!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Dorian van Braam the Elder RIP


This is not an easy one to write. After all the terrible things that have happened this year - to me and to millions of others - it was most pleasant to visit my dear friend Dorian van Braam the Elder at his apartment near Hove seafront a few days before Christmas. 

My partner Laura and I spent a wonderful evening with him - Dorian was so full of life, talking about his plans: to make a film of one of his colourful novels, to buy another plane (he once crashed a plane into a helicopter), to sue the AA (one of their vans had knocked him off his bicycle in London) and many, many others. We could hardly keep up. It was an invigorating evening after a hellish couple of months.

Dorian was intending to drive to his estate in Ireland for Christmas, but it was not to be. The following day, he emerged from a cafe in Hove, collapsed and died. Nothing could have been more unexpected.

Since then, Laura has written a brilliant obituary of Dorian van Braam the Elder, using some of the photographs I have taken of him over the years. I won't attempt to reprise the story of his life - Laura has penned it so well. All I can say is that I thought Dorian to be a true one-off, a unique character from another era who still rode a powerful motorbike, wrote thousands of words a day - and had the balls to stand up to The Man! It was an honour and a privilege to have known him and been his friend.

Here are my pictures of Dorian van Braam the Elder, ending with what I believe to be the last picture taken of him before his untimely departure from our screwed-up planet:

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Victory in the Battle of Madeira Drive

The Reopen Madeira Drive Campaign - launched in early June by myself and my partner Laura King - has been victorious! Brighton & Hove City Council last night (Tuesday, 29 September 2020) voted to reopen the iconic seafront road in the way we proposed. . . in a wondrous U-turn and victory for common sense.

We started the Campaign after Madeira Drive was closed on the sly by the then Momentum-Labour-controlled Council with the support of the fanatical Green Party. 

I now understand that a group of senior Council officials, who are crazy about cycling, unscrupulously drove this agenda behind the scenes and persuaded lame-brained councillors to go along with it. If that is the case, it was a disgraceful abuse of their position as Council senior staff and public servants - and also speaks volumes about the gullibility and unsuitability of councillors in leadership positions.

Anyway, Madeira Drive is a very long, very wide and very quiet road, and it seemed to me that closing it because of the Covid-19 crisis was unjustified. 

There was plenty of room for walking, running and cycling as it was. Why shouldn't motorcyclists, scooterists and car drivers also use and enjoy the facilities? 

And, anyway, very few cyclists, runners and walkers chose to exercise there.

With Laura King's help, I started a petition on Brighton & Hove City Council's website, assuming - very naively - that Madeira Drive would be reopened fairly easily. 

How wrong I was! It quickly became apparent that the closure was not about Covid-19 at all, but was a symbolic gesture by the Hard Left to take out a road as a first step to making Brighton completely vehicle free. 

For four months, Laura and I have battled away. 

Our petition achieved nearly 11,000 signatures; four successful demonstrations were staged at Madeira Drive, uniting the Mods and the Rockers for the first time in half a century and attracting regional, national and international press coverage and even support from cyclists, and a war of words was waged in the Brighton Argus and on social media. 

And Laura's Reopen Madeira Drive to All Facebook group, moderated with the help of the tireless Tony Brighton, attracted more than 1,400 members and thousands of updates.

Moreover, Quadrophenia star Gary Shail even made a video backing the Campaign - and Specials star Neville Staple backed us online! Thanks, guys!

At last night's meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee (ETS), the decision to reopen it one way from Brighton Pier to the Mound was ratified, after being trumpeted well in advance by the Green Party's local leaders.

It is great that the Greens have changed their minds - and performed a neat U-turn. Listening to their spurious arguments at the previous ETS meeting and at a Special Full Council, to which Laura and I spoke and presented our petition, were thoroughly disturbing experiences. 

But I always knew that if we kept up the pressure, reality must eventually bite. With justice and the public on our side, we had to win eventually!

Throughout this Campaign, the South Coast Mods, of which I am proud to be a member, were amazing. 

In wind, rain and sun, they supported the four protests we organised, riding their beautiful classic Vespas and Lambrettas onto Madeira Drive despite the presence of Council stewards, and making some great speeches. 

The heroic Carl Bonner, who attracted BBC and ITV regional TV news crews, Diggers, Ralph and all the Mods were incredible! As were the Rockers, the cyclists and pedestrians who turned up to join the crusade.

And supporter Rob Arbery also did an incredible job at making the argument for disabled groups, who had been cut off from the disabled toilets by the changes, and bringing Brighton Palace Pier on side. The attack on the closure by the Pier's CEO was particularly good to see.

The Madeira Drive traders also gave us moral support with Trevor at the fish and chip shop also doing some spot-on media interviews, and Tarot card reader JJ Braiden making a cracking speech at one of the early rallies.

My partner Laura pushed the heritage angle - with the Madeira Terraces urgently needing restoration, which had been delayed by the closure. 

And the affable Councillor Lee Wares quickly understood the Madeira Drive issue and made some memorable speeches in Council meetings - against the hostile backdrop of tone-deaf Greens and Labour members.

But in the end, the compromise that we and Lee were backing has been accepted by the Greens, who had seized power halfway through this crisis and initially doubled down on Labour's unreasonable policy, but now, amusingly, are claiming credit for the idea.

I couldn't give a jot about that. What's important is that Council Leader Phelim Mac Cafferty has seen sense and found a way to persuade his zealot colleagues to reopen Madeira Drive.

Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle also, thankfully, started singing a different tune. 

Initially, shoot-from-the-lip Lloyd wanted a permanent closure for Madeira Drive, but later he conceded that a compromise was needed and motorcyclists and scooterists should be allowed to use it! 

Fair play! I admire anyone who has the guts and honesty to admit they were wrong.

Madeira Drive is a cultural gem, the spiritual home of Mods and Rockers, and a place for all to enjoy.

We chipped away at the Red-Green Wall, first winning a pledge to reopen Madeira Drive for events, then getting it reopened from the Mound to the Marina, then reopening the other half for the Mod Weekender on the August Bank Holiday. And Laura managed to place an excellent piece in Private Eye magazine about how the closure was affecting the restoration of Madeira Terraces. After all that, perhaps it was inevitable that Madeira Drive would be permanently reopened.

Looking back on the past four months, doing media interviews about them and reviewing the blog posts I kept up, I can see how many people helped me develop the Campaign - and get a successful outcome for Brighton & Hove.

Initially, I focused on the most outrageous aspects of what the Council had done - the discrimination against disabled people and the damage that it was doing the businesses of the traders on the Madeira Drive parade at a time when they were most vulnerable.

But my cyclist friend Gordon, who owns the magnificent G-Whizz Cycles on the street I live, made me see that I should not only be fighting other people's battles for them while downplaying my own particular interest.

Supporter Rob Arbery took up the cudgels for the disabled groups and the traders did what they could, considering that the Council is their belligerent and uncaring landlord, and I focused on the Mods and motorcyclists being deprived of their right to gather at Madeira Drive. It worked! The media loved the story, and both regional ITV and BBC TV, covered it, interviewing me, other Mods and Rockers, and the traders who rely on their business.

Broadly, I have always been a supporter of environmental aims - but this Campaign made me realise just how out of touch and unecological the current generation of Green politicians has become.

It did not bother them that the closure of Madeira Drive and the subsequent draconian cycle lane on the seafront road going up from Brighton Palace Pier were causing congestion and pollution - and actually damaging the environment far more than the previous arrangements.

Science simply did not come into it. The ideology of closing a road, and the symbolism of this unplanned act of rebellion, was the goal in itself - worth damaging the environment for, as far as the Brighton & Hove Greens and local far-left Momentum Labour parties were concerned.

They also appeared to play down discrimination against the disabled, when they were asked about it. 

For the Council leadership, it was as if combating racism is enough, and the other -isms, no longer mattered to them. Strange! And this attitude to those most in need has now resulted in Brighton & Hove City Council being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. I hope they throw the book at them!

Once again, Momentum-Labour and the Green Party have brought shame onto the great city of Brighton & Hove.

I hope that Green and Labour leaders in Brighton & Hove will reflect seriously on the Madeira Drive debacle and realise that they do not always know best - and that genuine consultation with all user groups is vital before making any major road changes.

In particular, they need to consider if the councillors put in charge of the important areas of transport, environment and sustainability have the experience and competence for the job. 

For instance, someone with an obsession about one form of transport and a strong dislike of other forms is unlikely to do a good job for all the people of Brighton & Hove.

In truth, there was never any need to close Madeira Drive. 

Even during full lockdown, few cars were using it and there was plenty of room for cycling, running and walking. There always is. Madeira Drive has been a great source of parking revenue for Brighton & Hove City Council over the years but, ironically, it has never been a busy road. 

So, closing it achieved nothing, except costing the Council, which has a gaping hole in its finances of more than £20million, more than £1million in lost revenue, unpaid rents of traders and the totally unwarranted £12,000-a-month cost of Madeira Drive stewards (next time Phelim calls for a Council Tax increase, he needs to be reminded of this wanton waste of our money!)

And dividing the people of Brighton & Hove, pitting Mod & motorcyclist against cyclist, when they are all natural friends on two wheels, and causing additional upset and angst at a time when elected officials and leaders like Nancy Platts and Phelim Mac Cafferty should have been trying to unite the people of their fair city, already struggling from the economic impact and stress of the prolonged Covid-19 crisis.

For too long they put their ideology before the common good. . . and it was a disaster! Let that be a lesson for iterations of Brighton & Hove City Council going forward!

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