Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London's Burning . . . .

Just a very quick "post" this evening. I'm still trying to process everything that's been going on in London (especially where I live). I will be back to "normal" very soon (most probably tomorrow). This isn't an in depth look into the social reasons or why's as to what's been happening in London- it's just my stream of consciousness . .

I live in beautiful, historic Greenwich. Well, I live in Greenwich but not the beautiful historic part. It could be classed as within spitting distance - if everybody came out of their council houses and started spitting.
The area of Greenwich where I live is stuck between the Regency houses and greenery of the park and the modern wasteland that surrounds the 02 Arena. It's caught in a no mans land of asbo's and Hermes handbags. I guess it could be called "up & coming" or it could be called a breeding ground of unrest.
I call it home.

Of a weekend I am normally awoken by the sound of church bells which is comforting as I am sometimes lulled to sleep by the sound of broken bottles. I don't mind my surroundings. I like the juxtaposition of the "rich and the rough". Once I am indoors and the bolts and latches and locks have been secured I'm pretty content - but the last couple of nights have taken on an all together more sinister and lawless air.
It's no fun to be awake at 2am and watch shadowy figures in hoods running along the grass underneath your flat with arms full of stolen goods. It's a surreal thing to hear shopping carts being pushed along your street in the middle of the night and then see that it's gangs of youths with trolleys full of electrical goods they have just looted from the retail park near your home. I watched as my street was used as a convenient pick up and drop off zone. Cars pulled up and collected the goods and then the youths went back for more.

The thing I find most unnerving is that I am not a meek person and yet I watched this happen from my bedroom window and I did nothing. I would fiercely protect myself and my property from anyone who tried to take it from me but I felt utterly powerless. One lone voice against a group of hooded men / boys intent on taking whatever they please and doing as much damage as they can in the process is not going to have much effect. In the end I closed my windows and let them carry on and for the whole of today I have felt awful for it.

This morning began in the strangest way. I woke up at the sound of the alarm but had to actually talk myself out of bed. Everything took longer. The morning ritual of getting showered, dressed and eating breakfast felt strangely off, like nothing was going as planned. I had to go back to the flat for my wallet, the morning tube journey felt more claustrophobic than usual and people seemed to look at each other suspiciously or not at all. I know this is usual tube etiquette but to me everything seemed to be so much more intense. I looked at everybody like they were planning to steal my furs & jewellery or wait until I got off the tube and then go home and steal my flat screen.

I hate looking at people that way. I have never worried about or let the threat of terrorism stop me going about my daily business but the riots of the last couple of days have really unnerved me. This is a real threat from people who live on our street and it's from children who think they are above the law. The police were nowhere to be seen last night and I haven't seen one policeman in Greenwich this evening.What I have seen are empty streets and shops that have been boarded up.

 I could not wait to leave central London this evening and I cannot express how much I wanted to get home and lock my door behind me. I even took off my watch and jacket and put them in my bag as I walked from the station. I would normally be listening to my ipod or talking on the phone but I wanted to be as alert to my surroundings as I could be. It's an awful thing to be fearful but the walk home really set me thinking that if anything did happen would I "put up a fight or flee"?

 I'm glad to say that I still believe that I will always fight and I will not let the behaviour and mindset of many affect the way I live my life. I will still smile at people I don't know on the tube and I will still walk home listening to my ipod or chatting on my phone. I will still come home drunk late at night and I will still sleep soundly in my bed. I will wake up happy every morning. I will believe that the people I let into my life are good.
I am sure that I will still go home every night and bolt every door, click every latch and make sure every lock is locked behind me but more than anything I am sure that if anyone tries to take what's mine - I'm going to hit them, really, really hard and If they knock me down I'll just keep on getting back up.

As I write this there is a police helicopter hovering just above where I live and a police siren in the distance . . .
Sleep soundly everybody.


  1. It's a horrible thing to happen to any community,village,city when people ruin other people's property or surpass the limits that keep a balance in everyone's life.
    The empty streets and boarded up shops really got to me too. It was a very strange transformation and a very sudden one too. From vibrant to deserted from one day to the next.

  2. I was very sorry to see that there isn`t a safe place anymore. I`m from Brazil, so we`re used to violence and used to think "Europe is safe". It turned out to be just like here.

    From my own experience, don`t worry.. it gets better. Good luck!