What with 17 stops, 2 hours every summer day on the ancient Bakerloo line and finally the worst riots in living memory this hasn't been the best of London contracts.
In fact today is a day like no other in London I can remember.
General consensus in Santander bank this lunchtime was that the Army should go in. I jokingly said the kids will be off the streets as soon as it rains as you can't loot anything waterproof from a sports shop; but noone was even smiling. Old scared black woman could not be cheered up. She honestly thinks nothing will stop the kids except the army. They seem to want to treat this as zombie apocalypse instead of kids running riot (why am I in the bank? I'm too busy panicking about the stock market to panic about the riots)
I think the rioters may well wish they got the army. Cameron and co will do anything to avoid having to put troops on the streets so he will give the police a blank cheque to do anything. The British Army is not trained for riot control (see Bloody Sunday) but they would start with showing some restraint. The police tonight are going to go out and lay down the law in a very major way and it could be brutal. Perhaps they need to do it to regain their respect.
In Leon for lunch the staff are stupidly friendly, which is even scarier. As I type this in the heart of Whitehall, Downing street is around the corner, police sirens (Greenwich we think) are constantly blaring.
Saturday night, when it all kicked off, I was surprising the staff of a nice Italian restaurant by choosing to eat on one of their outside tables at the top of Tottenham Court Road. What happened? saw a lot of worried people walk by, it was a bit chilly but the food and wine was awesome. (I was oblivious)
Next day I found myself with Rich in a drunken rowdy crowd of thousands... they were all City fans ("just Pheonix Nights on tour basically") getting beer ed up before the Community Shield final at nearby giant stadium. We were still laughing about the riots then. I know two friends in Tottenham, Su and Odi, and I had txted both to ask if they were all right when I'd finally seen the riots from Saturday. Odi had left a hilarious rambling voicemail with a myriad of explanations for the rioting including his brother going to a Spurs match when he's an Arsenal fan ("the cosmic balance").
Having spent most of the day boozing with Rich, who cleverly got us on a bus north rather than south (to avoid the football fans actually), I got back to Wembley hotel and saw on Sky that it really was a major issue. Next day, on the Monday, I found an excuse to go and see Su in Tottenham. I saw a huge van with +++Police horses in Whitehall, and one super keen horse in the back, who was kicking against the door and flinging his head around. Su thought Odis voicemail very funny and we agreed that such was the state of the rennovation of her house it was unlikely the rioters could damage it any further.
On way back stood at Seven Sisters I looked up Tottenham High Road. Sunny but chilly. Boiling clouds seemingly linked to FTSE prices. Police dotted around arms folded looking confident, probably acting. Not many people but all moving a lot faster than normal, none of the good natured idling you get in Tottenham area.
I then got on the the new London Overground line, to move due west across to hotel in Wembley. It stopped briefly above Hackney retail park and Next was among shops with boarded up fronts. Other than that it was only wierd in the Overground eerily quiet way. Brand new empty orange trains running on recently reactivated but old rail lines, in it's strange mix of old and very new, like easyhotel as an underground line.
When I stepped off at Wembley Central I found it completely locked down. I had to get dinner from a Subway with one worried looking Indian working in there. He said the police had told him to close but his boss had refused him permission. I was nice and reassuring. The trouble wouldn't get to Wembley - that is the consensus. "We're not like that" he said almost convincingly. The Asian areas will seek to take care of themselves the way the Turkish shopkeepers have done. If there is trouble near the hotel tonight I am going to go out and stand with them.
Went back to hotel and watched Croydon burn on Sky. Out of the window there were police sirens constantly, going up and down road, probably between Ealing and Hackney.
My Facebook status last of
"it's just an army of dimwit Ali G's who are too stupid to realise they are all on camera. It will all stop as soon as it rains..."
was looking pretty bullish last night, before Croydon burned.
Much as I dislike local MP Dianne Abbot she is right, letting Tottenham gangs run control a shopping centre for hours on a Saturday night has given the capitals kids a taste for looting.
And I think this is a gangs thing, kicked off by an attempted arrest of a gang celebrity carrying a firearm. It looks like orchestrated street gang attacks on police. This is more like Assault on Precinct 13 than Cry Freedom.
Tottenham will recover.
Its better we have this now than now than further down the line. Two years from now we might be glad the police got practise with baton rounds and water cannon. As we descend further into the 80s expect Cameron to get us into a nice little war we can win and for Ghost Town by The Specials to be number 1 throughout the entire of the autumn...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northumberland_Development_Project