Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Lots of crime - probably quite a lot of punishment

The post below was started before the extra-ordinary events of the weekend of the 6th August. That Sunday I cycled to Tottenham Hale to pick up some items at the Argos and then planned to pop up to Mothercare. As I went past the retail park, clearly something had gone on, and I talked to a policeman on duty there to see when the shops would re-open - I hadn't watched the news at all that morning and had no idea of the riots the night before. The policeman looked at me as if I was a complete imbecile (which was a pretty fair judgement, frankly) and explained the situation. As things escalated over the next days one could only watch with increasing amazement. I cycled back from a friend's house half a mile along Hoe Street at around 7:30pm on the Monday, and the atmosphere in Walthamstow was very strange. There was less traffic and pedestrians around than usual and everyone seemed nervous. I was nervous. I was even more nervous when a car passenger shouted at me "you're brave" as I waited for the lights at Church Street. I wasn't feeling very brave - and the comment re-enforced my deeply held belief in the merits of cowardice. Still, I arrived home without incident, and Walthamstow has since returned to its normal self.

Being removed from the rioting (preferring a nice cup of tea to looting JD Sports) it was only sights such as in the video below (filmed on the Wednesday) that reminded me of the scale of the unrest, and the magnitude of the police response. As I cycled past Bakers Arms there were 10 riot vans full of police, presumably off to patrol various parts of East London.

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