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Posted on 21st November, 2011

The Mayor's Thames Festival: end of one summer?

No, start of a whole life!


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The Mayor's Thames Festival was my destination on Sunday. I have a deep affection for this celebration of London and its river, as it marked a significant point in the life I've had: the start of it, that is. You see, I'd retired from work at the end of March 2010, and I'd finally escaped some of the things I despise about British (and all other?) business: the office politics, the empire building, the hypocrisy, and the bullying and intimidation. I could count the decent bosses I'd worked for on the two fingers I was raising to the rest of them, and still have a finger to spare. No surprise then, that I 'smile' when I see slogans such as this recent gem: 'think of the freedom a job can bring'. Almost on a par with 'school days are the happiest of your life'.


Coconut seller at the Mayor's Thames Festival, South Bank, 11 September 2011


I'd spent a great 2010 summer chasing events such as the Notting Hill Carnival, and London Mela, to take pics. However, all the things I did would have been equally possible even when I'd been at work. After all, the main public activities had all ended early-evening time, and I hadn't been interested in such things as the after-events etc. But, the 2010 Mayor's Thames Festival was different.


Whilst at work, late to bed on Sunday had been a no-no for the sad person I am. I had to make sure I'd slept enough to be awake during Monday working hours, so 23:00-ish was the usual deadline to be in bed. Not that it was enough to get me to sleep mind you, because the depression I felt going back to the four-letter-word meant I needed a liquid 'drug' most Sunday nights to put me out. (But no more than that of course). And it's ironic really, because on the Friday nights, that very same drug got me high as I celebrated another week without cutting my throat. How versatile is the demon drink!


Anyway, whilst planning what to see at the 2010 event, it dawned on me that I no longer had to be in bed early on a Sunday night, and I took full advantage. I stayed to see its finale, a spectacular fireworks display that ended around 22:00. And, having enjoyed this sample of the late-evening atmosphere of our fantastic capital, I made the most of it by slowly walking back to my train at Euston, instead of getting a bus. I can't remember exactly what time I left London, but I was not home until well into Monday. As such, this really brought home that I'd escaped work forever, so I gratefully thank whoever created the Mayor's Thames Festival (Red Ken Livingstone?). And a definite thanks to Boris Johnson, for keeping it going.


So, what of 2011? Well, I've come to realise that I fail to check that camera settings havn't moved. Also, I fail to adjust them often enough for the current needs. On Sunday therefore, I used (and frequently confirmed) different exposure modes, manual mode, and manual focus. In addition, I even went back to AV mode for certain dusk-time shots, to try to get a nice mix of frozen main subject with blurred background. Unfortunately though, my low-ish expectations for the day were nicely met, as I managed varying, rather than consistent, success. Mind you, I'm at least starting to remember these things now, so I might be improving yet. You never know, if the life I began in September 2010 goes on, this time next year could tell. We shall see!


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