roger coulam


Every summer the City of Sunderland holds an airshow, and over three days civilian and military aircraft display over the ocean, in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

The marketing offers a family day out, and the flying display is often a small part of the programme, with many people drawn to the beach, fun fairs, and the fast food, promotional, and toy stalls.

Alongside the consumerism are unarmed combat displays, charities for wounded soldiers and their families, and real guns for smiling children to "fire" at their smiling parents, who record the event with their new model iPhones. Dominating the events are the Army and Air Force Recruitment and Outreach teams who target young working class people, prioritizing northern cities such as Sunderland and other areas that have similarly high deprivation levels.

The UK is one of less than 20 countries that allow the recruitment of 16 year old children by their armed forces. One in ten new Army recruits are boy soldiers of just 16, and more than one in four of all new Army recruits are under 18 - too young to be sent into combat.

It all seems like a microcosm of modern life, full of disturbing and often violent contradictions that seem to pass unnoticed and unquestioned.

Pictures 2002 - 2018.