Monday, August 08, 2011

Tottenham Riots: from a Resident's Perspective

I have just been speaking to my friend who lives in Tottenham.
Yesterday, while the riots were happening, there were no police to be seen: they had cordoned off the main road, ensuring no traffic flow- but traffic would have toned down the riots, she thinks.
She thinks it was planned, because the shops that were targeted for looting were jewellers and clothing stores that supplied goods that could be easily sold on, on eBay or suchlike. Relatively well-to-do young people were sitting on the wall opposite her house texting each other, presumably to call reinforcements, before re-entering the fray. They were filling rubbish bins with stuff, setting them on fire and pushing them through windows.
It is the small and more picturesque buildings that have been burnt out rather than the larger ones; the buildings that developers would like out of the way.
She is not sure where these rioters came from, but many of them wore designer clothing and had Blackberries. They were not the disposessed of Tottenham (which is what I had assumed)
Her very old man friend (in his nineties) is in tears, because the High Road has gone. Everything is closed, the cashpoints have been stolen and the shops are not open. He does not know where to go to get his pension.
There is no electricity, and has been none since last night, so no TV to watch to try to find out what is happening and no internet. There are no food shops.
I invited her over for a bath and some peace, and perhaps to leave her valuables here, but she does not dare to leave her house.

This reminds me of the Brixton Riots: my Uncle was on his way over and when he arrived he said that Coldharbour Lane was cordoned off. All night long, we heard helicopters, but there was a news blackout, which was frightening because we were less than a mile away.
Next day we discovered that Smeg (King Kurt's lead singer) had had his flat burnt down. It was upstairs from a very ostentatious-looking bed shop. His exotic lizard had been burnt alive, and all his and his girlfriend's possessions. The cat escaped, but they lost everything else. His girlfriend was the same size as me and I gave her clothes and about a week later we did a gig and gave them money to tide them over until their compensation came through.

In these parts of London, Tottenham, Camberwell, Peckham, live poor people, often very decent people, who are terrorised by criminal bullies. The police don't care, because the poor people don't have any power as far as they can see.
It is more productive to make sure that rich businesses and establishment organisations are protected.
I realised after 13 years of living in Camberwell that it was never going to get any better; five people got shot in a  nightclub opposite our house, and our upstairs neighbours flooded us by leaving a tap running all day and destroyed our house. They didn't even apologise.
The entire neighbourhood was over-run by rats, and after we left someone had their throat cut in McDonalds at Camberwell Green. Daily, you would see fights in the street, or people lying on the pavement with injuries; at night you would hear guns, sirens and helicopters.
People tried to have civic pride and tried to bring up their children well but they were (and are) swimming against a tide of political indifference. I used to get tremendously upset, thinking about the Queen and all her jewels and her basement at Buck House stuffed with Faberge Eggs and sketches by Leonardo, so close to the dismal poverty of the capital city of her realm.
'Perhaps she doesn't know about it', I thought. Then one day, a huge shining black car sailed down Camberwell Road, with a large royal crest on the front. Lit up inside was the Duchess of York, smiling and chatting to her chauffeur.
I suppose to Them, the poor are equated to lesser animals, cattle and pigs perhaps.
Let them snuffle and squabble!
Let them hack each other apart!
Let them steal each others things!

Let Them Eat Cake!

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