Archive | June, 2008

St. Basils Podcast

26 Jun

A few months ago I went up to Birmingham, England, to shoot stills to illustrate a podcast about the charity St. Basils. St. Basils works with young people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Anyway – have a look at the podcast that was produced by Audio for the Web.

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Brian Jones becomes a British Citizen

22 Jun

I became a British citizen on 22 May of this year in a ceremony at Bromley Town Hall in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The photo with the blue border was taken by the official photographer who was on site that day. I would credit him but I did not get his name. The other man in the photo is the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Councillor Mohammed Abdus Salique. The day he swore me in was his first day in office and this was the first public ceremony he officiated as mayor. To the right of the mayor is my wife Rachel, and to her right is a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizababeth II

Brian Jones becomes a British citiizen

I was amongst a group of between ten and fifteen other people who also became British that day. My fellow inductees were from countries as diverse as Iraq, Rwanda, Korea, China, Australia, and Nigeria among others. The woman next to me in this photo was from Iraq.

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Joining me that day as witnesses, in addition to Rachel, were my friend Nick Masters, and Rachel’s mum and step-father, Lally and Cecil Chapman.

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After the ceremony we went to Victoria Park to have Monmouth coffee at the Pavilion.

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Rachel was the photographer that day. Click here to see the rest of her photos.

Why did I become British?
I have been living here for about four years and intend to live here indefinitely. I wanted to be able to fully participate in my community and the affairs of my new country. Not being British meant I could not vote to elect the people who determine the laws under which I live, how my taxes are spent, and the foreign policy my adopted country employs. I can now vote and will be able to enter the country much more quickly once I have applied for and received my British passport. I am also now eligible to serve on a jury! Woo hoo!

What criteria did I have to meet to become British?

  • I had to be married to a British citizen. (Other people have other criteria to meet.)
  • I had to have lived in the UK for at least three years.
  • I had to pass the Life in the UK test.
  • I had to fill out a form and pay around £600 to the Home Office.
  • I had to find two upstanding citizens who were not relations to vouch for me. (Thanks Purba and Katherine.)

What did I have to say to become British?
I chose to affirm and declare, rather than “swear by Almighty God”.
These are the exact words of the Oath of Allegiance, as its known:
I, [name], [swear by Almighty God] [do solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare] that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs, and successors, according to law.

I was also asked to pledge my loyalty to the United Kingdom:
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.

Am I a dual citizen?
Yes, I am now a citizen of two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Is that allowed?
Well, it is not disallowed. Neither the United Kingdom nor the United States of America have any laws that prevent someone from holding another citizenship.

The American view of dual citizenship
According to the U.S. State Department website, “U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. “

Here is the State Department article on dual citizenship.

According to Wikipedia:
Based on the U.S. Department of State regulation on dual citizenship (7 FAM 1162), the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that dual citizenship is a “status long recognized in the law” and that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other . . . ”

The British view on dual citizenship
According to Wikipedia:
Since the British Nationality Act of 1948, there is in general no restriction, in United Kingdom law, on a British national being a citizen of another country as well. So, if a British national acquires another nationality, they will not automatically lose British nationality. Similarly, a person does not need to give up any other nationality when they become British.

Queen’s Official Birthday Flyby

19 Jun

The other day we were hanging out at home and kept hearing airplanes flying past very low and VERY loud. I quickly sprinted upstairs, grabbed a longish lens, and shot these frames through the blue mesh that covers the scaffolding that envelopes our building.

It turns out we live under the flight path they were taking on their way to fly past the Trooping of the Colour at Horse Guards Parade in Central London four miles to the west of where we live in Bethnal Green. The Trooping of the Colour is a military parade that takes place the first, second, or third Saturday in June in celebration of the Queen’s Official Birthday. This is not to be confused with the Queen’s actual birthday which is 21 April.

The building you see in the pictures is Keeling House, one of the only tower blocks that is listed as an architecturally significant building in the UK. It was designed by Denys Lasdun and built between 1957 and 1959. Ladsun also designed the National Theatre which is in the South Bank Centre in London.

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Banksy in London

16 Jun

Since moving to London a few years ago Banksy is an artist whose work I have become quite familiar with. It’s always a delight to happen upon an original Banksy in an unexpected place. Banksy is a prominent British graffiti artist whose work you will inevitably see as you wander the streets of London and other British cities. He has a distinctive style and his work usually contains a political comment. I took this first image “One Nation Under CCTV” somewhere north of Covent Garden.

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And here is another view showing the rest of this work.

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This next Banksy is just around the corner from where I live in Bethnal Green, London. In this work Banksy has diverted the double yellow line across the pavement and up the side of the building to form a flower. In the UK double yellow lines signify no parking. The building he has done this work on is the Bethnal Green Working Man’s club. With this work he got permission from the club before going ahead – apparently this is his new modus operandi.

Banksy: Double Yellow Flower

Banksy is a bit of an enigma – no one really knows who he is – but some think that the guy with the roller is him.

Back in October of 2005 a gallery in Notting Hill held an exhibition of some of Banksy’s paintings. The work consisted of versions of famous works that had been reworked by Banksy. I don’t know if he actually painted these himself or even what his process was as the work is a huge departure from his usual style. Apparently all the work sold out before the show opened. The gallery was very small and only five people were allowed in at one time. Photography was permitted.

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During that show the gallery was also filled with a hundred or so live rats. The rat is an animal Banksy frequently features in his street graffiti work. I read later that the rats were relocated to a farm somewhere in the English countryside. Lucky them!

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