I would be a lot better at keeping up with this blog if I didn’t have the world’s worst internet at home. It allows me to look at some websites but others it can’t muster the energy for. After weeks of trying to sort it out I have just about given up. This is what it’s come to, the fact that I can get online at all is seen as a blessing. I was going to write about going home to Yorkshire for the weekend, and the difference between my weekend and Max’s, since he was at the Big Chill hanging out with Kanye West (AKA, walking past Kanye West) and I was at an altogether different kind of festival (my brother playing in an empty field for charity). But since London has gone to hell in my absence I sort of feel I should mention it.
I wasn’t in London when the shooting happened last Thursday in Tottenham, and I wasn’t here for the first night of the rioting. I got back on Monday afternoon, preparing to go to derby practice that evening and keeping a wary eye on the news. As I was taping up my toes (new skates will be had soon, oh yes) I got a text telling me practice was cancelled due to the riots. Though the area we practice in was fairly quiet, it was kicking off in surrounding areas, and they wanted us to be safe. See, derby love peeps. I’d had a text from a friend saying my neck of the woods was allegedly a target, and to be careful. Now, I live in Stoke Newington, it’s like the least likely place to be hit by a mob you could ever see. It’s full of yummy mummies with designer pushchairs and people who get up in arms when a Nando’s opens. But coming home on Monday I saw a street that was closing up shop, shutters down and a weird, tense air. Later I heard that shopkeepers were standing outside their properties with bats, ready to fend off any attacks, but I don’t know how true this is.
And there lies a problem with what’s gone on in the past few days: rumour and speculation. If you looked up ‘Stoke Newington’ on Twitter, you’d see half the people there saying it was calm and all ok, and the other half shouting about cars on fire, and that a friend of a friend had said it was all kicking off, that 300+ gangs were descending, that danger was around every corner. There was nothing of the sort, and it’s this kind of reporting, without checking the facts, that I don’t like about Twitter. It’s great for getting information out, but you have to be careful not to believe everything you read. I think some people were just getting off on being able to incite fear.
I’m not even going to attempt to go into why these riots happened, or why they’ve spread, since smarter people than me have all had a go. But I will say that I think that it’s disgusting, and that I cannot imagine what it’s like to be one of those people whose entire lives were destroyed over the weekend when their homes were set on fire. I don’t know who those rioters were sticking it to, but it certainly shouldn’t have been these people.
I am hoping it’s going to calm down now and things will get back to normal, but that somebody, somewhere, at least learns something from it, whatever it is that needs to be learned.