London riots: the phenomenon that we all fail to understand

It is funny how soon after my post on everything to love about London I should write about everything that is wrong with the city. Yes, I do have to admit that ‘everything that is wrong’ is a bit of an over statement but you understand that the poetics of this piece will not quite work without it.
Maybe not everything is wrong with The City but certainly quite a lot has gone downhill in the last few days. It all started with the shooting of a Tottenham criminal and his family standing in fron of the police building demanding answers. Fair enough. Certain people managed to interpret that as a free ticket to vandalism and unprovoked violence and went ahead setting buildings on fire, thrashing and stealing from local shops. Still managable.
What the police – what nobody for that matter – didn’t expect was the snowball effect of the events in Tottenham. In the next two nights the brainless violence, the looting, and the fires took on monsterous dimensions and spread over to several other areas including Enfield and Woodgreen.
Why do I mention these two areas? Because my house is right in between of them. Other areas affected were Hackney, Brixton (close to where I work! and on the opposite end of town,) Clapham, Peckham, Deptford, Woolwich, etc. The unrest even reached Central London and good old Oxford Street again. This is the 2nd time the shops on Oxford Street (main, biggest shopping street in London) are being thrashed in the space of a few months. The 1st time was either the student protest or the protest against the budget cuts. Which one is irrelevant.
I feel sorry for the insurance companies that are mounting up huge claims because of a bunch of brainless, greedy and violent teenagers. I feel sorry for the police who are pushed to their limits and are exposed to unnecessary risk non-stop for the last 3 days. I feel sorry for the innocent bystanders, people trying to make their way to work or back home, or the innocent shop owners who have lost their livelihoods and in some cases businesses that have been in the family for generations. People have lost their homes because some…there is really no words describing it…has decided that it is OK, even cool to set local shops on fire while people are in the flats above. Can someone explain to me what is the logic, the reasoning behind such brutal acts of violence?! What makes it OK to rob injured children, what makes it OK to thrash cars with people sitting in them, what makes it OK to break into shops, take what does not belong to you, re-sell it on the next corner and pose and smile for the photographers while doing so?! What EXACTLY makes you cool?
The London public has been appaled, people are scared and angry, people are ashamed and disappointed in their fellow citizens but most of all people just fail to understand why this is happening. The acts of the last three nights defeat any logic and are beyond reason. As for me – it really doesn’t make sense to me and it makes me angry because it is really NOT FAIR on the innocent victims of this madness.
It is not fun having to walk back home at night while constantly worrying whether the teenagers walking by will hurt you. It is also not very exciting to see several police vans and cars turn the corner of the street where you live. And there is nothing cool about seeing the police crowded around a house a few hundred meters away from your front door.
I don’t remember ever staying up late at night to watch the news and the latest developments feeling slightly unnerved. I actually went to bed and had to get up to ask what was happening as I could hear the police sirens in the distance as well as some odd thumping. Who know’s what that was! I must admit that it was uncomfortable.
Let’s see what today brings.


Love London

After a long pause it is time to pick up the writing and update you on my last travel stories. From the wilderness of South America we move back to the Old Continent. Is it less wild – I will let you the judge of that.

Let’s start with one of the oldest; if not the oldest city in Europe – London, my new place of residence as of November 2010. Six months down the line I am still in love with the city and growing more so with every day. I am in love with the constant energy, the buzz, the international crowd and the constant happening. I love the impeccable customer service and the good old, beautifully sign-posted tube that is always under attack for not working well. It is working just fine; we just haven’t had the opportunity to compare to one that really isn’t working. I love the hundreds of languages that I am surrounded with every day matching the hundreds of skin colors that go with them. I love the food stores that are open 24h and make life easy for us along with the rest of the shops, bars and restaurants. I love how people say ‘I am sorry!’ out of politeness even if it is not their fault. I love how people smile at each other, greet each other and try to be considerate most of the time. I love the hundreds of performances on show every day, and I even more so love the fact that I am able to afford watching them. I love being able to eat a different meal from a various parts of the world that is even delivered to my door step if I wish it to be. I love all the clothes on sale, all the styles and colors. But most of all I love my friends. I love having friends. It is amazing to be able to call and text each other and meet up regularly for drinks and dinners, and salsa. It is great to be able to get together, talk, share and laugh. And how we laugh! Without those people London wouldn’t be the same. It really doesn’t matter where you live if you don’t have anyone to share the experience. It might be the most amazing city in the world, but it ain’t nothing without no friends. Because of this small group of people London has now become a home to me and I wouldn’t replace it for the world. Well, maybe just for Rio de Janeiro…