Friday, August 01, 2008

Say 'Cheese'

The idea was that we took a few publicity pictures in London.
“Uh, uh,” said the photographer, sucking in a breath. “Tricky.”
Apparently, he said, if you want to take pictures in central London you have to apply for a permit at Charing Cross police station, a process that can take up to 28 days. Then, as a part of Photo Safety Identity Checking Observation, no doubt referred to in casual conversation by PC Plods as a PSICO, you are required to wear "a thin fluorescent waistcoat" kitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The RFID is a cheap and "passive device that needs no batteries" according to the Metropolitan Police, whom I thought should have something better to do than pursuing professional photographers going about their business.
Frankly I was sceptical but saw no point in going all the way to Charing Cross and waiting 28 days or so while they shuffled the paperwork.
So we went to Paris where the pictures were shot in one day, several of them including policemen who were good enough to hold up traffic for us in the process.
I still could not believe that taking a picture in London could be such a bureaucratic nightmare but then I read of an author, Mohammed Hanif, who ran into trouble whilst trying to get some publicity shots for his latest book taken in Covent Garden. A security guard repeatedly foiled him by putting a hand over the lens.
Subsequently they were chased away from other locations before finding sanctuary, rather appropriately, in a church where the verger apparently knew nothing of the latest regulations in force in Bonkers Britain and let them take their shots.
The Metropolitan Police allege that “cameras are potentially more dangerous than guns.”
I suggest that they should take a look at little old ladies wielding umbrellas.
Now there’s a serious menace for you.
Watch out for a ban on these – unless, of course, you apply for a permit to Charing Cross police station.


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