Monday, 8 August 2011
London's on fire. Set ablaze by its own angry and disenchanted youth and undoubtedly with it's own dark underbelly of criminal networks playing an influential hand. What started as peaceful protests over a police shooting has ignited into three days of the ugliest riots this city has seen for decades. The flashpoint that has caused this explosion seems now lost and insignificant after the widespread and senseless violence that has and continues to spread not just throughout London but now to other UK cities. The pictures on the news are unbelievable and frightening. I'm actually scared. Staying in tonight with blinds shut, glued to the news and wishing really badly that Mr V was here.
Last night I heard the stirrings of the disruption starting with the sounds shouting and fighting on my street and the police helicopter flying overhead for hours. It's not unheard of for this area which is notorious for problems with youth gangs but by the morning it was clear that the riots of North London has set a rather disturbing and sinister ball rolling.
This morning I arrived on my local high street to find the entire length of it cordoned off by police - I had read that a few shops had been attacked but naively thought that it wouldn't affect my tube journey. The tube was shut, the street was off limits to traffic and pedestrians and this was why...
Then throughout the day news reports of breakouts of new rioting across the metropolitan area prompted colleagues at work to pack up early and hurry home to avoid being on the street at dusk, expecting things to get ugly as night fell. I didn't even attempt the tube or the high street on my journey home. But the amount of violence and damage still going on is shocking and there are horrific fires burning in several boroughs, some neighbouring ones, putting the homes and lives of residents at risk.
I remember as a young teenager, living in a sleepy suburb in Australia, reading about the poll tax riots in London with incredulity and wondering with fearful awe how anyone could live in a city like that. Roll on twenty years and I'm living down the road from it all. I thought I loved London. Tonight I'm not so sure.