riots etc.

We’ve had a few interesting nights here in London, as you may have heard.  My immediate area is pretty quiet, though the Hackney events took place quite nearby to the north (after the initial riots, the police decided to give itself the ability to stop and search people even without reasonable suspicion, ie. the police tactic widely credited for sparking the 1981 riots.  They started doing this and people In Hackney started to riot.  Brilliant!).  There was definitely a tension in the air last night when I went out, mostly from local shopkeepers.  When I came back last night my tube station was closed because it’s in what they call the “affected areas,” so I got off one stop before and tried to take a taxi.  I say ‘tried’, because two drivers I spoke to both refused to go into my area.  I knew there had been some trouble between where I was and where I needed to be (sorry, difficult to explain if you aren’t familiar with the place names), so I went one stop past my station (Mile End, incidentally) and walked.  I’m a wimp, as you know, so I was nervous walking home, because I didn’t know what to expect, and because I needed to take what ended up being a somewhat isolated street.  There was a lot of smoke coming from one building; the building itself wasn’t on fire, but something on the building definitely was.  The streets were also relatively empty, and I heard a lot of police sirens.  But other than that, everything was pretty quiet, as it is tonight.

Obviously if you live in an area where there was a lot of looting and clashes, or if you were a shop owner who was targeted, or if you were in the wrong place in the wrong time, the last few days have been really scary.  The fact that violence seems to be popping up all over the city, somewhat at random, puts people on edge and makes riots seem like wildfire, something that just spreads uncontrollably and without direction.

But at this point I’m a little annoyed at the ‘london is burning’ hysteria which I feel is being played up by a sensationalist media, and also maybe by people on twitter.  After coming back today (around 7pm) , I read from various places on the internet that my local Tesco had been ransacked, that there had been fires and looting on Bethnal Green road, and that police vans had shut the whole street down.  So naturally I decided to go out and see all this for myself.  Lots more shops were closed than usual, some boarded up yes.  But mostly the street was as it always is.  Pubs and corner stores and McDonalds were all open, people coming home from work, kids riding their bikes.  No buildings were burned, there weren’t signs of glass being broken.  Tesco was doing brisk business in nutella and half-rotten vegetables, as usual.  I’m not saying there are not truthful elements to these accounts – they shut down the tube station for a reason.  But let’s just say, I’m not sure the army should be involved.

Having written that, knock on wood that I don’t get caught up in some violence.  In any case, Guzzi is not too worried.  She’s even ready to start a vigilante night watch (or so she claims…)




2 Responses to riots etc.

  1. RT says:

    Thanks for this. I suspected as much.

    Ah, Tesco…

  2. wtmk says:

    it’s good to hear of your locale & i’m put more at ease because of your protector

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