Since I am now living on the other side of the world to my family and most of my friends this blog is about things I enjoy, things I notice, people I meet, people I miss, history, planning for the future, love and life in general! I guess it's about whatever pops into my head which I want to share with my friends and family... and who knows? I might make some more friends along the way!

21 August, 2011

Battersea Rises

On Monday 8th August, the unimaginable happened & a mob of greedy, selfish thugs started "rioting" & primarily looting shops in nearby Clapham Junction.

I sat in my bedroom & heard the sirens, saw the glow from the flames of a fire which had been lit in the fancy dress shop & smelled the smoke... a few minutes before it really started I'd been on facebook, reassuring friends from around the UK, as well as in Australia & the USA that I was in a safe, quiet community, nothing like the area's which I had already heard on the news had been attacked... I was wrong!
It was surreal, to be honest... this dreadful beahviour, so nearly impossible to get your head around was on the major news channels & updates were happening in between programming on tv, but at the same time I could see & hear the helicopter from my bed where I was half sitting, half lying & typing on my laptop...

It was on my laptop that I watched a video, uploaded to youtube, which showed the very store where I had purchased it being looted... The guy making the video asked one woman, "Are you proud of what you're doing? Why are you doing this?" Her response was, "To get my taxes back..."

Seriously??? Are you honestly so ignorant & downright stupid to think that your taxes are somehow floating around in the ether, just waiting for you to claim in the form of burglary? Do you think that everyone else who wants or needs a computer just walks into a shop & steals it, or could it be possible that we work hard & save our money to purchase one??? Do you think your taxes are not used to help you? If, indeed you pay taxes (& I must say I have serious doubts as to the possibility of this...) do you never, ever visit a doctor or purchase a subsidised prescription, walk on a footpath, travel on a road, call on police, ambulance or fire brigades? I strongly supect this woman lives in housing subsidised by our taxes... Well, when I say "our taxes" I doubt she is included in that! I wanted to slap her, & I am so non-violent that it's hard for me to admit to that emotional reaction! Especially so publicly!
I was awake until at least 2am, around which time the mob started to disperse... probably because they had already got their hands on as much of the valuable goods as they could... The department store, Debenhams, was looted - as were JD Sports, The Foot Locker, 3 jewellery shops, an independant electrical goods shop, the aforementioned Curry's, at least 3 mobile phone stores, Boots (the chemist) & TK Maxx... also shops which had little of interest to the looters were vandalised, including small, family-run cafe's, a Greggs bakery, a Christian Book Shop, 2 stationers, a carpet shop, 2 hairdressers, at least 3 charity shops (charity shops which exist to help people & organisations & which are run on voluntary staffing & donations from the public!) 2 supermarkets, the local post office, 3 banks (they tried to get to money in the ATMs & although they damaged them beyond repair, they were unsuccessful!), bars, restaurants, fast food shops (including Subway, KFC & Wimpeys) Starbucks (with every window smashed despite the fact that there would have been nothing of real value within it!) and many other small shops, & outlets... the total number of people employed by these businesses would be significant.
The worst thing, however, was the Party Shop... I visit it sometimes, having purchased a wig for my 'Nessa costume (for Dragon*Con) as well as various bits & bobs for party costumes & putting on celebrations with the children I've nannied in this area... most recently I bought a pair of fairy wings & a pink tiara for the Race for Life. These morons broke in, stole masks to cover their faces (in a vain attempt to avoid being recognised on CCTV) & then SET FIRE TO IT! Not only did the shop go up in flames, with many canisters of helium gas inside, but there are several flats above it, & people were in them! A family were fortunate to escape quickly before their home & all their possessions were incinerated, but others were afraid to evacuate, fearing they would be attacked by the irrational mob in the street below... the bravery of the people who helped to evacuate them & the firemen who worked hard to put the blaze out cannot be overestimated! I feel so grateful to them for protecting us under the most difficult of circumstances!

I was relieved to head to France with the family I live & work with the next day, although London was on high alert for more possible trouble... even as we (my employer, Alex, & I) drove out of London, we saw small shops, & superstores alike, shuttered & closed by 3pm, as well as a significant number of petrol stations... which, meant it was difficult for us to find one open, & when we did there was quite a queue!
A week later I returned to the Junction to shop (having been in France for the interveining 6 days) & the photos I took of the recovery one week on inspired me to make an album on facebook. I included press photographs of the night itself & the following day, as well as the pictures I took on Mon 15th August... I am proud to be part of this community! Battersea certainly rose to the challenge, & I was reminded of the spirit of the British people in WWII... not that one night's mindless greed & violence can be compared to the months of bombing & deprivation which the people suffered at that time, but the fact that mindless, selfish violence has no chance of overpowering the community spirit... I firmly believe Battersea will rise up stronger as time goes by...
If you wish to see the album it can be viewed here: (sorry, it looks like you might need to copy & past this into your address bar on your browser...)

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