So last night Mark and I got home, turned on the TV and watched as our adoptive city morphed into a foreign and terrifying place you would never want to visit, even if someone paid you £1,000,000.
I am of course talking about the riots that took place on the 8th August.
I try not to get too involved in the news – I always get shouty, but these past few days things have not been a good time for London and the UK. I feel embarrassed, angered and heartsore that a country and a city that is one of the most incredible in the world, can be brought low by a bunch of well organised yobs.
Where we live, which is theoretically Kent although the suburb / area we live in is smack bang on the border between London and the county of Kent, we are very much aware of idiocy. Beckenham and Bromley are genuinely nice places to live and to visit, but there are elements that tend to get shipped in via the tramlink from Croydon and by buses from surrounding areas like Penge, Lewisham and Catford, who make Beckenham and especially Bromley not safe places to be in the evenings, especially during the summer and on Fridays and Saturdays.
Because these two places are so accessible, Mark and I suspected that things may kick off and although loads of hoodies turned up in both Becks and Brommels, the police kept the order. A handful of windows were smashed and some idiot tried breaking into a bank. Really? The bank?
We stood outside last night at around eleven and just listened. We are far off the main throughfare, but traffic noise carries. And there was no traffic noise at all. Nothing. Except, after a few minutes there was the sound of a single emergency vehicle siren in the far off distance.
Against the night sky, to the right of our house, just beneath the moon we could see whispy dark clouds and a tang of smoke in the air. This was from the fires in Croydon.
We went back inside, sat on the couch and watched BBC News Live and Sky News Live and my heart cried. Mostly out shock and disbelief. But I also felt so much anger towards these people out there who were taking this opportunity to become lower than the lowest mongrel there is, by become thieves and looters. And robbing independent stores who are struggling at the best of time. And then the destruction of cars and busses? How pointlessly blind and stupid.
Your actions are not great. They are not good. You deserve to be shut away and made to pay for what you’ve created. That fire in Croydon? That was five generations of hard working normal people’s livelihood that went up in flames. That jewellery shop that you robbed in Beckenham? A regular guy who is trying to make a living and perhaps living a bit of his own dream.
Lucy Coates has written this amazing blogpost and I am far from as eloquent so all I can say is yes, I agree.
We are all leaving early from work tonight as various train services shut down stations last night for fear of damage and helping the undesireables getting to their chosen target destinations. And you know what? I absolutely hate it. Because of a few, I have to change everything, and feel afraid. It is reprehensible and I honestly hope that it does not kick off yet again tonight.
To all my friends who live in and around London and other affected areas – be careful out there.