I just took Stan out for a walk to see what’s what. Tooting had been tipped as a possible venue for disorder tonight, but while we saw at least thirteen police (three on bikes, five pairs on foot), there were hardly any other people about (weirdly I bumped into a couple who sat behind us on Thursday – they were out looking for mushrooms, everywhere was closed), and certainly no troublemakers. It was a lovely evenening in fact, and while police cars were firing past regularly, it’s very much a case of so far so good.
I don’t know what to make of all this trouble. As someone who spends too much time trying to understand everything he comes across (I asked my mum why? every two minutes as a child), today has been difficult. My upbringing and belief system doesn’t really cater for all this – there must be a reason. I was all set to refer people to Will Hutton’s Them and Us or Wilkinson and Pickett’s Spirit Level, both good books about how unfair/divided societies are far less healthy than societies where wealth is more equally shared. Then last night we sat in front of various news programmes watching with horror as buildings burned and people suffered, and, well, it goes beyond deprivation and wealth disparity doesn’t it? These people are the shit on the bottom of our feet.
The BBC at one point had a good interview with political correspondent Nick Robinson. It was agreed that whatever your take on the ills of the modern world, you’d probably find a way to explain these riots. I agree. There isn’t a simple answer, and just as people say it’ll take a generation to fix all this, it’s probably taken a generation to create it, too. It’s depressing that people would loot a shop for trainers or for crisps or for dvds, but we are where we are and these are the gods we’re all told to worship.
No answers from me, then, but let’s hope all this passes soon. It’ll come again – you can’t cut police, neglect education, load a society’s interests too far towards the wealthy and expect everyone to sit back and know their place – but hopefully the police are going to be able to get on top of the situation, and communities will perhaps police themselves and their kids that little bit better, and we can all get on with leading our silly little lives again.