Forgive Me…I Need To Get This Off My Chest

I had planned to post this week on some of my birthday exploits but I can’t get past the rioting that has been flaring up all over London so forgive me while I get this off my chest.

On Sunday morning I emerged sleepy-eyed to see a text from Mum asking if I was OK.  ‘OK?’ I thought. ‘What on earth is she talking about?’

Then I turned on my computer.  Rioting. Looting. In London. Specifically in Tottenham.  Was this right?  How could this be?  Ensconsed in my flat on the other side of London, it just didn’t seem real.

Since, like the rest of the world, I have woken each morning to the news of behaviour I can hardly believe.  Hackney. Enfield. Ealing. Clapham. Brixton. Bristol. Birmingham. Manchester.  Cars set alight. Shop windows smashed.  Items snatched from shelves and carried down the street aloft like trophies. 

Pictures on Twitter, in the papers, on the news – looking more like a war-zone (not that I know what this would really look like). 

Stories of looters bragging of ‘taking from the rich’, stealing hard-earned livings from strangers, swaggering with arrogance and disrespect and entitlement.

How did it come to this?  What did we do as a society (that’s all of us) to bring this on ourselves?

I have been in turn appalled, disbelieving, disgusted, angry and deeply shocked – but mostly I am sad.  Sad that hard work and building a life is dismissed in such a cavalier fashion by those who think that the rewards are owed and there to be demanded at will.  Sad that businesses must close to protect their staff, that people are frightened in their own homes, that schools must send our children – the ones who will shape our society in the future – home.  What an abysmal example to set – that behaving in such cowardly and criminal ways clears the path for getting what one wants.

And while I’m still reeling from this, I am also heartened by the way that local communities have banded together to support those affected (on Twitter you can check out @riotcleanup).

9th August 2011 – Clapham’s Broom Army
(Picture: @Lawcol888)
10th August 2011 – Peckham Poundland’s Post-It Wall
(Picture: Getty Images)

But in the end I just really wish it wasn’t necessary.

4 thoughts on “Forgive Me…I Need To Get This Off My Chest

  1. Ladies, thanks for your comments and for letting me get it off my chest!

    Things are quieter here for now but the clean up goes on for those most severely affected. I was pleased to read in the Metro this morning of a mother who marched her 12 year old duaghter down to the police station to hold her to account for what she had done.

    Unfortunately I think London's reputation will be sullied for quite some time. Sad for such a great, vibrant and diverse city.

    Thanks again for your views.


  2. Beautifully written, you've captured what so many of us are feeling. To have it happen in your own country only adds to the anguish. My sense is the swagger is just posturing, and the 'take from the rich' claim is something they picked up from other idiots at large. There is something horrible that takes place when mob mentality kicks in, because Lord knows we in the US have had terrible riots that gutted the very neighborhoods of the rioters themselves. What we they thinking? Sadly, they weren't. How to prevent it and where to go from here are the tough questions as Jane points out. Simply tragic.


  3. I'm with you Kym – after the anger and disgust subside what's left is a deep sadness that people can trash and destroy the homes, businesses and lives of those in their own communities. The bigger question – where do we go from here?


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