Two young men from Lithuania out shopping in Boston, Lincolnshire on Saturday afternoon. They’ve adopted the ‘gopnik’ look, popular amongst fans of 'blatnaya pesnya' - literally 'criminal’s songs’, a genre of music popularised by East European hip-hop artists but with its roots in 19th Century czarist Russia.


Established by Henry VIII in 1537 and disrupted only by the occasional outbreak of civil war, bubonic plague and covid, the King’s Lynn Mart is the UK’s oldest continuous fair and the first event in the Showmens calendar. Beginning on February 14th each year the Mart takes over the Tuesday Market Place for two weeks when its gaudy neon illuminates the town for miles around. During its heyday in the late 19th century the Mart was at the cutting edge of technology when agricultural engineer Frederick Savage converted some farm machinery into amusement rides and in 1897 it was the place where moving film was shown to a paying public. Despite its continuing popularity with the people of King’s Lynn the town council have come to regard the Mart as an inconvenience as it disrupts their their ambition to monetise every inch of pavement with parking charges. They would dearly like to see it relocated out of town, but sadly for them a 450 year old decree from a long dead king still carries more weight in law than the opinion of local government officials. The Mart stays, no longer at the cutting of technology but a place where anxious teenagers got to look and be looked at and the grumpy showmen with their lugubrious ride-hands try to scratch a living in the winter months.

  

Squash for sale down the Fen off the A10 near Southery during the recent cold snap. Payment via honesty box is a familiar sight in Norfolk and I suspect in many other rural areas too. Relying on honesty isn’t a great basis for a business as it depends on the buyer believing that dishonesty, directly observed or not will be at some point be punished. Until recently that belief was known as having a conscience, now all you need is a Ring Doorbell.

A room (kolhata) to rent advertisement in a newsagents window, King’s Lynn. The text is in Russian cyrillic and deliberately designed to appeal to prospective East European migrants tenants of a certain age. Anyone who went to school behind the Iron Curtain before 1991 learned Russian as part of the curriculum, and as part of the USSR’s cultural domination of its occupied territories. Although widely loathed and abandoned after the fall of communism, the practise of having a common language proved useful for migrants when those countries joined the EU under the A8 accession rules in 2004 and they were given the right to come to live and work in the UK. That meant Czechs, Latvians, Lithuanians, Slovakians, Slovenians, Poles, Hungarians and Estonians could communicate with each other. Quite useful if you’re trying to make yourself heard on a factory floor or field in the Fens. Even today If you go into any of the East European shops in the town the transaction will often complete with the assistant exclaiming “Spasiba”, the Russian word for thanks.  

Children playing in the street, Kings Lynn,Norfolk,UK

Children playing a clapping & rhyming game on a street in King's Lynn, the meaning of which is probably only known to them. It went 'Ribena, sassatina, big boy,crazy girl....STATUE!'. It stuck me how unusual it was to see children playing without the intervention of technology, just using their imagination. The location is Garden Row, just off Windsor Rd. If you're local you may recognise one of Lynn's great pubs, the Livey on the left. Garden Row also contains one of the few remaining cobbled streets in the town which survived the slum clearances in the 1930s.

The Bicafe on on Albion St, King’s Lynn, behind the bus station. One of the half-dozen or so establishments serving the Portuguese community in the town. Usually family businesses run by ladies of a certain age they serve traditional dishes like Bacalhau à Brás - salt cod and potatoes that offer a little taste of home to those that perhaps haven’t been there for a while. Portuguese cafes take their very coffee seriously and everything starts with espresso. If you go ask for a Cortado, a double shot, with a layer of honey then steamed milk.  

 Being a romance language Portuguese has gendered words, so it’s Obrigado to say thank you as a man and Obrigada as a woman. Naturally I got it wrong, although in recent times the language has tended towards the masculine, something that apparently doesn’t meet with the approval of the older generation.

The Bicafe cafe on Albion Street, King Lynn, Norfolk,UK,




Benefits recipients fear financial squeeze of UK chancellor’s welfare reforms - for the FT. https://lnkd.in/eD9N8Qv9

UK Businesses give their Verdict on Autumn Statement. - for the FT. https://lnkd.in/edKATrVw





Props

The Union flag umbrella, conveyor of a thousand metaphors and one of my go-to props when photographing politicians. Always good for providing a bit of colour on a dull day in November and the symbolism works as part the story. In this case, more trouble for the Tories as members flock to Reform UK. 

For The Guardian. Hit the link for the story. 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/nov/19/reform-uk-goes-back-to-brexit-as-it-looks-to-seize-on-tory-troubles






The Stiffkey Fairy Bridge (pronounced Stookey). 

 The 'David & Goliath' story is a great trope of newspapers and this story about a battle between the residents of a Norfolk village and the National Trust ticked all the boxes. There's been a bridge over Cabbage Creek on Stiffkey marsh for decades or even perhaps hundreds of years to facilitate cocklers, and latterly walkers and anglers across the tidal mud. The official bridge was removed and replacement promised, but at the time of writing had yet to appear, until one night the marsh fairies 'intervened' a built one for the villagers. I was surprised about the lack of interest when I was punting it round to my usual newspaper contacts, but fortunately James Tapper of the Observer saw the merit in it and wrote a cracking piece. At the time of writing it's the most read article on their website. Hit the link for the story as it was published.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/oct/28/norfolk-marsh-bridge-national-trust?fbclid=IwAR0vlVbIB8qpIT5mx1el6Uk2djWcZ-_jWdEwzMPYwK9AvkYC8UVp-7UJgkg

Stiffkey Marshes Bridge DisputeStiffkey Marshes, North Norfolk, UK. A number of the village inhabitants are in dispute with the National Trust after a bridge providing access to the marshes was removed. Subsequently it led to an unofficial one being installed, apparently by 'marsh fairies'. Pictures shows: Sign outside the viallage appealing for the return of the bridge. The Shoebottom family traversing the ad-hoc bridge over Cabbage creek on the marsh.

Fading graffiti showing the remains of the lightning flash insignia of the British Union of Fascists daubed on the walls of buildings in North Norfolk, UK.

The first in Stiffkey displays the emblem of the movement, and the second in Aylsham reads Stand By The King, perhaps referring to the abdication crisis of 1936 .

Whoever made the marks, some 20 miles apart did so in bitumen, and intentionally or otherwise ensured they would survive the battering the wind coming off the North Sea gives to brick buildings in the county for the best part of a century.

British Union of Fascism symbol in Stiffkey. - - Click for an enlarged view.
British Union of Fascism graffiti in Aylsham - Click for an enlarged view.

The British Union of Fascists enjoyed some popularity as an insurgent political party in rural East Anglia during the 1930s as it opposed a forgotten, but despised tax known as Queen Anne’s Bounty, an 18th Century law laid upon a farmer's harvest by the Church of England, in addition to any taxes the farm might have to pay to the state. Not surprisingly, this tithe-tax was very unpopular especially in the 1930s when the effects of a long economic depression had made agriculture a difficult business and the impact of the combustion engine on commercial agriculture had reduced the requirement for labour, leading to unemployment and with it a disaffection for mainstream politics. A contemporary rhyme captured the feeling -

 We’ve cheated the parson 

 We’ll cheat him again 

 For why should a blockhead 

 Have one in ten 

 For prating so long like a book-learned sot 

 Till pudding and pumpling burn to pot? 

As times got harder and more farmers refused to pay the tithe the church commissioners began send bailiffs to enforce the debt, removing livestock or farm machinery. BUF members, the Blackshirts led by Oswald Mosley decided this offended against natural justice and formed squads that could be called up to defend, by force if necessary, the farmer’s property. These events became known as the Tithe Wars, the most famous of which was The Siege of Wortham Manor, when the Blackshirts and farm workers held off the church bailiffs for 19 days at Doreen Wallace’s farm in Suffolk. 

For some years before World War 2 and the BUF's alliance with Germany, Mosley was a popular figure on the British political scene, admired by mainstream figures like Aneurin Bevan for his progressive policies towards equality and welfare which included the ending of the common practise of allowing employers to sack women in their employ when they got married. 

 The above images have been retouched for clarity, the ones below are as the graffiti appears today.

British Union of Fascism symbol in Stiffkey. - Click for an enlarged view.
British Union of Fascism graffiti in Aylsham - Click for an enlarged view.
Si Barber The blessing of fishing boats at the Fisher Fleet on Sea Sunday, King's Lynn, Norfolk,UK,10th July 2022.
Kings Lynn Mart 2017The Mart 2017
Vancouver Avenue, September 2017.
©Si Barber Moral Rights AssertedTwo women reflected in a shop window, Norfolk St.
King's Lynn Mart 2018KIng's Lynn Mart 2018
KIng's Lynn Mart 2018Gaff Lad working the Waltzer, King's Lynn Mart 2018
Scooter FuneralThe funeral for scooter enthusiast Eamonn Payne making its way to the Mintlyn Crematorium, March 2018.
Trojan Tattoo A man with a forehead tattoo bearing the name of the Trojan Record label, King's Lynn, 2018.
A butcher delivering meat to ZP & VP Butchers in King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK
Valingers Road Laundrette, King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK.
A knobbly knees competition at a street party held by the Live & Let Live pub, Windsor Road, King’s Lynn, Norfolk,Uk
A police officer in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, lecturing the public on what language may constitute a hate crime
Landlady’s son Oli Haynes of the Live & Let Live, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, making the final touches to their St George’s Day decorations. Despite having to close because of corona virus that pub is adapting to the situation by offering a beer take-away service to regulars.
Corona Virus Images.Haircare hairdressers in King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK stating their closure due to the corona virus pandemic.
Corona Virus Images.A deserted New Vancouver Centre, Broad Street, Kings Lynn,UK, during the corona virus pandemic.
Corona Virus Images.Practising Parkour in The Walks, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK, during the corona virus pandemic.
A Black Lives Matter demonstration in King’s Lynn,Norfolk,UK which was held during the 2020 corona virus pandemic.
A young man with a handbag around his neck in King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK.
Kings Butchers on Wisbech Road, King’s Lynn trading during the covid 19 pandemic.
Billboard posters in King’s Lynn,Norfolk,UK.
A householder in King's Lynn erects at sign on his property objecting to the covid 19 pandemic restrictions.
Riding the Tagada, 2014.
Pandemic warning sign on London Rd, King's Lynn during Lockdown 3, February 2021
The London Porterhouse, King's Lynn Norfolk, UK during Lockdown 3, June 2021.
Bus Station Cafe, King's Lynn, Norfolk,UK.
Si Barber The Fenman Public House, King's Lynn, Norfolk,UK.
The opening of Poundstretcher in KIng's Lynn, Norfolk,UK. The chain of discount stores was established by Paul Appell & Stephen Fearnley.
Si Barber Halloween trick or treaters in King's Lynn,Norfolk,UK,2021.
A Burns Night piper playing in the London Porterhouse, King's Lynn, Norfolk,UK,January 2022.
A Victorian style funeral carriage makes its way down Gaywood rd, Kings Lynn.
Si BarberExtinction Rebellion shaving heads by the Guildhall, February, 2020.
Boys pulling a trolley outside a shop called DiscountUK in King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK.
Freebridge Garage, Clenchwarton road, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
A pilgrim on Wisbech Road, King’s Lynn making his way to Walsingham with a crucifix.
Si BarberHalloween on Wisbech Rd,King’s Lynn 2019.
signs protesting against house building, Knights Hill, King’s Lynn,Norfolk,UK
A group of trick or treaters on Portland Street, King's Lynn, Norfolk,UK, 31st October 2012.
A demonstration against the prorogation of Parliament in King’s Lynn, Norfolk,UK, 2019.
©Si Barber Moral rights asserted.Billboard for KFC Zinger burger, King's Lynn, Norfolk
Trick or Treaters in King's Lynn, UK, Halloween 2015.
Gaunock Terrace, King's Lynn.
The Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, Suffragan Bishop of Lynn opening the King's Lynn Mart February 14th 2013. The Mart was granted a charter to operate for two weeks every year by Henry VIII in the 1600s and has been returning to the town ever since.. .. . ..
Crown & Mitre, King's Lynn.
Pizza Hut,King's Lynn.
Kings Lynn Mart 2017
King's Lynn Mart 2019
Halloween 2012, King's Lynn.
Children playing street games, South Lynn.
Hardwick Cemetery King's Lynn.
Queen's Jubilee celebrations on Windsor Rd,King's Lynn.

One of my favourite towns is Great Yarmouth. Like all port towns it’s got a bit of an edge and swagger to it, but unlike most of its neighbours along the Norfolk coast it has managed to resist commodification by the well heeled Guardian readers fleeing the the depravities of London in a search for an England they remember from their childhood. Much of the old town including the market, where once you could see the herring catch, or traders juggling plates has, of course gone, having been replaced by something ugly designed by an expensive architect. Despite that Yarmouth still retains the spirit that Dickens found in it. If you go make sure you check out the Market Tavern - a proper local pub and Klobber & Western World on Regent Rd.

Negotiating a burst water main.
Mr Robin Platten of Brewer's Chip Saloon serving customers in funeral garb on their last day of trading at Great Yarmouth market. Brewer's has been trading since 1902 and will close when the market moves to a new area in the town.
St Nicholas Tavern, St Nicholas Rd.
Dog harnesses for sale.
A wet bank holiday Monday
Bikers on the Parade.
On Regent Road.
A customer at Gary Salmon's pie & peas stall on its last day of trading at the old market. The stall has been trading since 1946 and will close when the market moves to a new area in the town
Klobber & Western, Regent Rd.
The Market Tavern public house.
Hauling a crucifix past the Leisureland amusement arcade.
Market place.
Misery Memoirs for sale on the market.
Posters advertising the Freemen of the Land Movement
Puppetman entertaining the crowds.
A chip stall on the old market.
Marine Parade.
Shippea Hill station in Cambridgeshire. The request-only stop was, until recently the least used station in Britain. In latter years it has become more popular as migrant workers commute from the villages surrounding the Ely rail terminus to the 07.17 train for the nine minute ride to the packhouses of the fens which surround the towns of Soham and Mildenhall.
Shift change at Fleet Hargate, Lincolnshire.
Migrant workers harvesting cabbages near Boston, Lincolnshire during a rainstorm.
Romanesc broccoli awaiting harvest, Lincolnshire.
Field Supervisor
Contraband & Counterfeit cigarettes concealed in a chair, uncovered by Trading Standards during a raid on a newsagents in Lincolnshire.
An abandoned pig-sty in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire which was formerly occupied by two female migrant workers who were eating dog food to survive.
A English flag painted on a the door of No 11 Falcon Rd, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
Young workers from Eastern Europe fishing at Boston docks, Lincolnshire on a Saturday morning.
A demonstration in Boston, Lincolnshire, UK calling the invocation of Article 50, which would initiate the process of the UK leaving the EU.
Unpicked apples in orchards by theA47,Wisbech Cambridgeshire.
Anti-loan shark campaign, March, Cambridgeshire
Migrant workers from Eastern Europe shopping in Boston, Lincolnshire.
A woman on a splitshift walking to work, Wisbech,Cambridgeshire
Lithuanian workers on a Saturday morning, Norfolk.
LIttle Europe shop in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
The former Bull & Monkie public house, Spalding,Lincolnshire, now occupied by some of the town’s East European homeless.
Newsagents window with advert for a rented room in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
Closed Polish shop in Great Yarmouth.
Mihai, a worker from Romania in a vegetable processing factory in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire sitting on a bench in the town centre on his day off from work.
Rooftop graffiti depicting the Virgin Mary cradling a bottle of beer in Boston Lincolnshire, UK. apparently representing the dependence on alcohol & religion
Wash day, King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Waiting for trransport at the Britannia Cafe, Blackfriars Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire,UK
Newly arrived migrant workers from Lithuania looking at adverts for accomodation in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
Celery cutting team, Cambridgeshire.
Portuguese cafe, King's Lynn
Hoeing weeds by the A47, Norfolk.
A police raid on a car wash suspected of employing illegal workers.
A room to rent,advertised in Russian, King's Lynn, Norfolk
Reflections in a kubus window,New England, Peterborough,Cambridgeshire

The growing of pumpkins in the peat rich Cambridgeshire Fens is a profitable business thanks to the proximity of a number of US airbases and the American enthusiasm for celebrating Halloween. For almost fifty years the community of Soham has come together in the autumn to show off their husbandry skills and compete to grow the heaviest pumpkin or the longest leek.

Pumpkins await collection and weighing.
The pumpkins are collected by Hiab for weighing.
After weighing the pumpkins are arranged into categories.
The pumpkins are carefully guarded.
The pumpkins are divided in catergories.
The vegetable are graded and put into their categories.
Prizes are awarded for length and weight.
Entries are laid out for inspection by the judges.
Officials judging the competition for the tallest sunflower.
Officials measuring the sunflower heads.
Judges measuring the leeks.
Traders selling pumpkins to the public.
Fancy dress competition entrants.
Fancy dress competition winner.
Jill & Hob ferrets (male & female) at the Soham Pumpkin Fair. The species of polecat were traditionally used for hunting rabbit, but are now mostly kept as pets.
A ferret gets its teeth inspect by a member of the Cambridgeshire Ferret Welfare & Rescue Society who attend the fair to give advice about ferret welfare both as working animals and as pets.
A boy sits by the winning entry which weighed in at 408 kgs (64 stone) and was grown by a Mr John Richardson of Chatteris, Cambs. When it was growing the pumpkin required 12 gallons of water and 4 gallons of tomato feed each day and would gain up to 15lb