Tuesday, August 09, 2011

:: Right Now :: what to say?

As most of you probably know, civil unrest has broken out in English cities over the last few days.

Since some of you have been asking, we're fine.  It's not quite as dramatic or all-consuming as portrayed by the news media. And it's not all bad.  Many communities are coming together to assist one another in clean-up operations.    

We were in our local town centre today.  Apart from a very visible police presence, there were few signs of anything out of the ordinary. The gangs of young people hanging out, wandering around, was not unusual, though their numbers were higher than normal and they seemed more focused and less aimless than usual.  Mobile phone and jewellery shops had shut early as a precautionary measure.

Rumours were rife.  We sat quietly in Starbucks, enjoying late afternoon sunshine, and Dan received a text from a friend that blared in capital letters: STAY AWAY FROM TOWN CENTRE! FULL OF POLICE VANS AND RIOTERS!!!  

Hmmm.  Really?

I sat down tonight and watched news clips online, and read a few articles.  It's interesting.  There are intense arguments going on between random people in Maryland and California [amazingly well-informed about British youth, somehow!] over the deep, real reasons for these riots.  Many believe racial tensions are to blame, while others cite the inability of "young people" to retain jobs.  They point out that many of the looters claim to be "stealing from the rich to redistribute the wealth".  Or that the rioters are motivated by "rising taxes".  

Hmmm.  Really?

The first released CCTV images show rioters and looters to be white, black and anywhere in between. One of the youngest rioters arrested [so far] is eleven years old.  A brief five seconds from a news clip that burned itself into my memory is of a shopkeeper sobbing as she tried to comprehend the mindless ransacking of her tiny corner shop.  Rich?  Really? If they were truly out to punish the rich, they could have at least looted Oxford Street! As for revolting against rising taxes, many of these young people have never been fortunate enough to hold down jobs and pay those high taxes.

There's no pure-minded revolution going on here.  It's nothing more than a bit of fun, as evidenced by one Hackney [London] rioter who apparently called out, "Come join the fun!" as he raced along a street where cars and shops were being torched.

I don't like their idea of fun.  When I was that age, "fun" meant a brand-new book to read.  It still does.  I know.  I'm a geek.

Quite tellingly, amidst streets of looted shops, the ignored and untouched ones were the bookshops. 


  1. Hannah8:39 am

    I completely agree, It's got nothing to do with anything but the opportunity to run crazy for a few days, until the police and government figure out how to work with young people!

    It did amuse me how in Birmingham they broke into a deli, and were looting sandwiches! Maybe all they need is a substantial meal?! Breaking down windows for a cheese sandwich is a bit extreme!

    It did make me laugh at how the bookstores are untouched, i love it!

  2. this is an interesting blog about what is going on http://rosamicula.livejournal.com/540476.html

    I heard a quote from a Waterstones employee saying "we probably won't shut any shops early, if they came in and stole some books they might actually learn something..."

    I think as you say it is about "fun" and greed, the shops hit in birmingham that i saw were Adidas, the phone shops, Armani and some electronics shops.

    Hopefully if we have some rain it will calm everything down, the rioters are like cats, evil, and not fans of being wet and cold...

  3. Maybe we should go out onto the streets and start inviting them to come home with us for tea! :)

  4. There was a clip on a British news website today that had two girls saying that it was "all about getting back at the rich." So I think there IS some of that going on, but not nearly to the scale they would have us believe.

    I think you're right in that it's a bunch of kids using it as an excuse to act stupid and reckless and foolish.

  5. That's why I pointed out that if they were really intending to get back at the rich, they'd be pillaging Oxford Street - London's high end shopping area with the brand-name flagships. Instead, they were burning the homes of their poor neighbours and robbing from shopkeepers who barely make enough to live on anyway - basically, destroying their own disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Not quite Robin Hood. :)

  6. Anonymous4:19 am

    I believe the word we are looking for is "chaos". It has no rhyme or reason because those who practice it have no rhyme or reason. It has been stripped from them and left them with only vague feelings rather than firm convictions. At least Robin Hood knew what he was about and why.

  7. Thanks for the spot-on reportage, E.
    We're in the middle of a 'quiet riot' over here in Amerika. Gazillions of vehicles scurrying back and forth between homes, petrol stations, and shopping centers. Have you heard? Consumerism is the new global patriotism. Tear the stores down and they'll just build bigger ones.

  8. Oh, and one more thing...a louder and confused quiet family riot would ensue if I were to ever reveal what I did "for fun" when I was young.
    uncle c

  9. I just wanted you to know I've been reading, just not commenting. On this particular subject I am sort of at a loss as to what to say. The amount of uncontrolled behaviour is brain numbing. Adding yet another country to the prayer list! xo

  10. Anonymous11:15 am

    No Robin Hood here, I think that sounds like the most viable answer so thats what their sticking to, I think they did attempt Oxford Street but that met with quite a bit of resistance. I just feel for the people whose homes have been destroyed, and looting at Aldi and Lidl doesn't seem to be making much of a point about anything. I just feel sad and confused at this sort of behaviour, what else could they do with all that energy, if channelled in a positive direction?

  11. Anonymous4:49 pm

    I found this summary and blog extremely witty. I read an article today about a bunch of Sikh men protecting their homes, families buisnesses and places of worship with swords ( their traditional deal, part of their faith, to offer protection). Maybe what England needs is some religion, after everyone has been so down on 'religious' people, I'd be interested to see if their were many 'religious groups' amongst the pilferers...

  12. Anonymous8:22 pm

    Aimless lives lead to aimless destruction.


Please don't hesitate to comment if this post has provoked your thoughts! I enjoy reading what you have to say.