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 |
|10th August 2011 - Peckham Poundland's Post-It Wall|
(Picture: Getty Images)
But in the end I just really wish it wasn't necessary.