Living in a city currently wracked by rioting driven more by wanting a nice new telly than any overriding political motive is something of an odd experience. The fires and looting haven’t touched my part of the city (yet), but the police sirens and helicopters were going well into the early hours. Stories coming out this morning include the destruction of family businesses that have traded for over 150 years and two Michelin starred restaurant (and L&L fave) The Ledbury being attacked by masked looters (thankfully the author of the piece was only robbed of her rings, rather than being physically hurt, but it’s still an horrendous experience).
The overriding sensation isn’t one of sympathy for the anger of communities struggling under deprivation and police aggravation, as was the case in the 1981 riots in Brixton and elsewhere, but of anger at the selfishness and criminality of the looters. If there is any genuine grievance on the part of the rioters, it’s certainly not coming across in the media.
One more pleasing sign is how communities are pulling together to fight off the rioters, and helping shops and other businesses clean up. For whatever you feel about human nature following the last few nights events, you can’t help but have your heart warmed by how many people are choosing to help their neighbours, friends, and total strangers. Good on you.
I was only a kid in 1981, but I remember the feeling of dread that had enveloped the nation. This seems to be something different (aside from in Tottenham, where there had been a peaceful protest before things went wrong). I just hope people see sense before someone gets killed.