What I Saw.
Every morning I have come into work and ranted about what has been happening in London and in cities around England over the last 4 days. What started with a shooting and a genuine protest in Tottenham, North London, has turned into an excuse for violence and theft committed by a bunch of teenage thugs and robbers! Most friends and I have been glued to the television news reports... a sick compulsive viewing of the destruction of some of London's poorest boroughs. We watch as the tragedy unfolds, shouting at the TV, urging the firemen to look behind them as another building catches fire. Helpless and disgusted.
I have argued with work colleagues about the role of the parent in all this? Do they know where their kids are or what they're up to, are they appalled... or do they condone their kids behaviour, maybe phoning them up during a looting and putting in an order for a size 5 pair of Nike's? The thing that has upset me most is that these kids are burning down and looting from their own neighbours. I heard a soundbite on the BBC website, of 2 girls who had looted in Clapham the night before. They were saying how much fun it had been and the reason they joined in was because it was getting back at the government and rich people. Stupid little bitch, I thought. Rich people? These newsagents and family run businesses have been built up from nothing and are scraping by due to hard work.
OK, so they are also targeting clothes shops and sports shops, but only the ones with expensive brands in, they're not stupid! They aren't raiding Primark and grabbing handfuls of £2 T-shirts. They know what they want and that's a new pair of trainers. These kids already wear the latest brands... photos of the looters show them in their Reeboks and Nike's and expensive jeans. In fact, one repost last night had me screaming "ah, poor little bastard, have you got dust on your trainers?" The footage showed several hooded youths in Manchester pushing over an industrial waste bin. As the bin crashed to it's side, some rubbish poured out. The guy, jumped out of the way, screamed something and then went over to the side of the road and started brushing off his trainers with his sleeve, mumbling under his breath, the police in riot gear metres away from him. It got me so so angry, this little arsehole doing all this damage but "watch out for my trainers, they is new, innit!" Twat!
What I Heard.
Two posh girls, around 18 years old, on the train last night, laughing and giggling at messages on their phones. Then one of them screamed in mock horror and said to the other "Oh my God, Charlie is going to join the looting tonight, wants to know if we wanna go along... thinks we should start one in, like, Sloane Square or something? O.M.G. it would be sooo hilarious. God Mum would totally freak. Shall we do it? He said he could meet us in Starbucks at 7. O.M.G!" Much hilarity and whispers ensue until they feel the stare of one woman opposite. Her stare says it all. They go quiet. You could palpably feel the hackles go up on all the passengers in earshot. There were so so many things wrong with this that I'm not going to even write it down. You know.
What I was told.
On the way to work yesterday morning, a pretty, pregnant black woman sat down next to me. I smiled at her and then she just began talking. So many people want to talk about this situation that they will do it with a complete stranger. It happens with all disasters in the world. Talking about it makes things easier to comprehend, it comforts people. This woman told me she was from the Congo and had come to Britain to escape the war and the dangers. Her story was horrific but she said what was happening here made her sick to her stomach. Why were the kids doing this? They have so much to be glad for, a roof, food to eat, school. They lived a safe life, most of them, yet they were stealing off others just for fun. FUN.. she said loudly. She was so upset and seeing it from her point of view made me so ashamed to be honest.
Why is the question on most people's lips. You only have to google or read some of the tweets to know how many opinions are being flung around. It's not political. It's pure and simple greed mixed with boredom and the belief that they should have something for nothing. My opinion. Bunch of selfish prats.
What I Saw.
The best photo of the clean-up is one in Clapham of Operation Cup of Tea. The residents and loads of others from around London brought their brooms with them and helped clear the awful mess left over from the looting. Someone was overheard saying "There are more broomsticks here than in a Harry Potter film!" Brilliant. Here it is...