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Posted on 20th November, 2011

Will all countries of the world be swamped

by a common culture?


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My photography has reduced recently, but it's not dried up by any means. In fact, on Thursday 6th, I was in Clapham (SW London), taking portraits for The Guardian Camera Club monthly assignment. Not around Clapham Common, but along Clapham High Street, and in the side roads off it. As usual, it was an interesting and rewarding few hours, bagging some pleasing pics. But the walk was also harrowing, as I stumbled on the painted memorial for 15-year-old Billy Cox, who was shot dead in 2007 in his home on the Fenwick Estate in North Clapham. I know that just being next to a memorial is nothing like actually being there when something like this happens, but it's still a big shock. It leaves you cold knowing that you're just feet away from where someone committed such a terrible act: and especially so when, like me, you've been in contact with such welcoming and heart-warming characters for so much of the day.


At Moens organic meat suppliers, The Pavement, Clapham. 6 Occtober 2011.


Something else leaving me cold is the British weather, as the Indian summer rapidly turns into autumn. I get so depressed at this time of the year, with its ominous hints of what's to come, but it's nothing to how bad I feel when the freezing, wet, dark days actually arrive. How I wish I was tasting an Indian summer in India itself: in reality it might be approaching winter there as well, but unless you're in or near the Himalayas, this Brit can live with their temperatures.


Which leads me to Sir Mark Tully, someone who considers himself a Brit, but who was born in Calcutta. Sir Mark used to be Chief of Bureau for the BBC in India until he resigned in 1994, and still lives in Delhi. He returned to India on Saturday just gone, after a period in the UK to promote his latest book 'India: The Road Ahead'. I attended such a promotion at the National Portrait Gallery straight from doing my Clapham photo session, and at which Sir Mark gave a thought-provoking overview of the book. The gist of Sir Mark's belief is that India is suffering from a failure to wipe away the bureaucracy inherited from the British. This has led to a culture in which bribes are needed to get any actions carried out, and amongst those things, are the laws of the land. So, those who should benefit from positive discrimination laws for instance, fail to receive those benefits, and this could be storing up big troubles for the country. More significant for India's relationship with the wider-world perhaps, Sir Mark believes that the country will never attain true superpower status until bureaucracy is eliminated.


I've been to India myself, and I can empathise strongly with the view regarding petty rules, excessive paperwork, and hitting heads against brick walls. And that's not the only thing I find upsetting about the country, with terrible poverty and pollution being high on my list. But, like Sir Mark, I do at least keep telling myself that it is India, not the UK, and it's completely wrong to judge somewhere else by standards ingrained in you at home. Worse still in my opinion though, is swamping that other place with your own culture, as it won't be long before everywhere in the world ends up as just a variation of one other country. And without doubt, that one other country will be the USA, with the UK itself being all the proof needed of that. That's right, those people who complain that the UK is a federal state of the EU, should start recognising (spelt with an S take note, not a Z) just how much it's the USA that's dictating British life, not Europe.


Not that everything American is bad by any means. After all, where would I be without the great photo gear brought to me at reasonable prices by Amazon and ebay for instance? Still fighting all the problems that use of film brings I suspect, so taking even fewer pics, no doubt. Sorry then to that other American giant Kodak, but yes, it's me whose to blame for your troubles! Or is it Amazon and ebay?


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