Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Cheerios and Shiraz

It's not been a good few days in England.  What started off on Saturday night as a peaceful protest over a questionable use of firearms by police has turned into something completely different: rioting and looting by completely mad people - primarily youths - who seem to have no awareness of the impact of their lawlessness, and the fact that what they are doing is completely criminal.  The question is, will they be brought to justice?  

We woke on Monday to news that following riots in Tottenham (north London) there had been looting in Brixon, where I had just one week before enjoyed my lovely day out.  The reports were of people ransacking electronics and jewellery shops, smashing shop windows, openly breaking the law and stealing.  Unfortunately from there, this behavior spread, but randomly, to completely disparate pockets in and around the city.  Last night was the worst, with not just looting but simply destruction - in Croydon, about a 25-minute drive from where we live, a furniture store that had been in one family's ownership for 5 generations, was this morning a smoldering pile of ash.

There are too many angles of the past few days for me to try to write about: what insanity grips people as they decide it's ok to loot and steal?  What should the government be doing to stop the rot?  Are they responsible for it to begin with, with their cuts to social services and the aim of a "Big Society" which has a smaller pool of funds from the government to work with?  What have the parents of these children been doing while their kids have been out stealing tvs?  What is going to happen to London's image in the world, especially as the 2012 Olympics loom on the horizon?  Why, again, do we live here?! 

Of course, as often happens, the bad things are often accompanied by positive stories, and that's been the case with campaigns of volunteers that cropped up today, organized on Twitter and which apparently garnered support in the form of 70,000 followers as of this evening.  But, you have to ask, how much was social media responsible for this form of organization, and is it a good thing that so many people can be incited and organized by 140 characters?

It's been a sad few days, and I, like most Londoners, hope that order is restored soon, and that those who are responsible are brought to justice.  Tackling the wider issue of why certain parts of London, and now other parts of the UK, descended into chaos will be another matter.  At the moment I'd just like to be able to go out and buy a bottle of wine at 5:00pm, something that was impossible today as I didn't want to be out any more than I had to, and the local wine shop was boarded up in precaution anyway.  That's all from here; keep us in your thoughts.
p.s. post title is based on what I had for dinner, a bowl of Cheerios and a glass of Shiraz!

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