Monday, 8 August 2011

London burning

I went back to the flat for the first time in a year, to let the British Gas man in for my tenants. It's in a quiet part of Hackney, near Victoria Park. They didn't have a TV or radio so I didn't know the latest.

But when I went to the little corner shop, bored of waiting for the gas man, a man burst in and said breathlessly to the shopkeepers "You gonna close your shutters? It's all kicking off down Dalston, Mare Street." The shopkeepers shrugged. "Up to you, mate. They're all closing up down there..."

As I was leaving the flat, waiting for the bus back to Bethnal Green, I saw all these boys on pushbikes cycle past in a line, they were quiet, wearing hoodies but with hoods down.

At first I thought they might just be mates out for a nice ride on a summer's evening but then more and more of them kept coming, there must have been about 20 of them and it seemed a bit strange somehow, they swooped past the common and out past my housing estate in silence.

When I got back to Leytonstone I went to pick up some dry-cleaning. I notice that the nail bar next door have their shutters right down though I can see them still inside. The dry-cleaner is charming and chatty.

'You go straight home now, you hear? And lock your door. They're all heading this way now. I just bought this shop, you know. Just bought it. And there are gaps in the shutters... I don't want to lose it. ' 'Do you think they'd want to break in here?' I ask. 'They're just burning stuff for fun.'

It's horrible, this siege feeling. Watching it on the news and unfolding on Twitter. It's not just greed & opportunism, it's what people do when they are really really fucked off. But all they're doing is bringing down a world of shit in the poor areas who least need it.

Anyway I hope everyone who reads this has stayed safe and far from trouble.


  1. Ken Livingstone fantastic on 5Live on the despair of the kids.

    Interviewer "Ken Livingstone, it sounds like you are defending them."
    KL: "Only if you're an idiot."

  2. At least Ken's been in London while this was happening.

  3. Keep safe.

    It's not happening in a vacuum, and I hope to hell that whoever deals with the real longterm investigation realises that. But shit... terrifying.

  4. I miss Ken.

    Thank you B. I know. I think it's just knee-jerk rhetoric because everyone is shocked and doesn't know what to do. It's the moment when you think 'who's flying this plane?'