It’s been a funny old week…

It’s been a funny old week here in London Town. Not one that should be repeated in a hurry I might add.

I was quietly oblivious of what was occurring on Monday evening; happily ensconced in the office working late, earning my sheckles for the man as per the norm. A text from a friendly neighbour alerted me to some dodgy goings on in downtown Peckham, complete with the words that I should get “my backside home sharpish” and for once I did as I was told.

I wouldn’t have actually believed what was going on had I not seen the mess that was Peckham High Road as the train meandered over the viaduct. Peckham Rye station (my normal point of disembarkation) was quite rightly shut given the number of fires that had been started in the vicinity. So I hopped off at East Dulwich and marched home. I don’t actually think I’ve ever walked home that quick before.

Once home – door shut, locks locked, and then double locked etc. – I watched the evening unfold via the BBC and Sky. Every hour the scenes got worse – more fires, looting, violence, anguish and carnage. I called it a night at about midnight and slept a fitful sleep.

On Tuesday morning the images of our city, and indeed the country, being beamed around the world made me feel ashamed to be British.

Something struck me on Tuesday when I was looking at the images being played out online, on TV and in the press; this was a unique experience for some of the rioters and looters. Maybe some of them would class it as a *highlight* of their lives. Something that they will recount for years to come, and reflect back on the actions they took with some sense of pride.

Just stop for a second and imagine being that person? What if that was your life, and mindless violence was your nirvana.  A moment, if there was ever any, to stop and take a look at our own lives and rejoice in our friends, families and personal situations and count a few blessings.

On the flip side what has made my heart soar over the last few days is that so many have worked tirelessly to atone for the actions of so few.

Ashraf Haziq was a Malaysian student who was held up at knifepoint, and then beaten on Monday night. Several people were seen helping him to his feet and looked like they were comforting him, but then they rifled through the contents of his backpack and stole items. It was all caught on video.In light of this some bright spark came up with this – Lets do something nice for Ashraf – and they’ve raised some serious wedge for him.

And I’m sure you’ve all seen the huge efforts that were made by @riotcleanup to organise locals and help clean up the affected areas. The ‘Riot Wombles’ nickname – a reference about those socially conscious litter-clearing creatures from Wimbledon Common – quickly picked up speed as gathered in their crowds and worked their magic across the capital.

It’s funny isn’t it how you can go from thinking people are simply vile to having a reinvigorated faith in human nature in mere minutes?

2 thoughts on “It’s been a funny old week…

  1. Interesting post Mel

    Like you I’ve been reflecting a lot this week and like you also made a comment about feeling ashamed of being British until someone correctly pointed out the major incidents had been confined to England and that at headline level, Scotland, NI & Wales had been very quiet…

    The same person then went on to explain that the South Wales Police had deployed Male Voice Choirs onto the streets to sooth tensions in communities where trouble was possible…. I believe he was joking!

    Whilst I am not keen to start slicing and dicing the UK into parts it is interesting that despite similar and in some cases worse econominc depravation the parts of the UK excluding England escaped largely unscathed. The two reasons that strike me as being potentially contributory to this are 1. that these areas are less racially and ethnically diverse than the metropolitan areas that were efffected and 2. Is there something (as Paxman wrote in his book “The English”) about the national culture of the ‘other 3’ and their patriotism and national pride, that acts to mitigate some of this activity? Definitely no science here but it was something that occurred to me….

  2. Again another *funny* moment. I think of myself as British. Not English. Maybe it’s all to do with what comes first alphabetically? Who knows. You are however correct in your statement. England has been where it’s at from a rioting / looting / bludgeoning perspective.

    From the outside looking in (and I can only take the stance as I’m not a Londoner by birth) the areas affected appear to have heterogeneous and diverse communities, and whilst I have an opinion on whether this is a good or a bad thing – good btw – is this a factor in the root cause of the unrest this week? I’m not sure…

    I think you are closer to it when you talk about pride. Now I’m not saying that the affected areas are not proud, but more that pride manifests itself in many different forms of behaviour. I used to work with someone years ago who was a complete football fanatic, something it took me a while to suss out as at work he was quiet, timid and never said boo to a goose. We had the Police turn up on the office doorstep one day, and this individual was arrested for the role he played in organised football hooliganism. Turned out he was a right nasty little so and so. Who knew?

    So my point here is whilst we can cast aspersions, try to work out the formula that makes you a rioter and all sorts, can we really *box* these people? Or do we simply say, it’s not me?

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