London is holding its collective breath right now and hoping for the best. It’s quieter here on the streets of Hackney bordering Stoke Newington tonight. According to the Guardian journalist who is blogging online live, the swathe of roads near here is being manned by forces from the Manchester Metropolitan Police complete with their large vans. The relative silence means that nothing feels as sinister as it did last night.
Thank heavens! Perhaps we’ll actually get a full night’s sleep for the first time in several days. Perhaps everyone will. That would be quite splendid. And may this sense of peace spread to every affected neighbourhood in London. Everyone has been on edge for days now and those levels of stress can be devastating to health and well-being.
It was reassuring to hear the Prime Minister say this afternoon that the number of police on the street would be increased from last night’s number of 6,000 to 16,000. I felt such sympathy for the police personnel on the ground last night when the sheer number of rampaging looters had them outnumbered many-fold. It was a perfectly dreadful spectacle to see the rioters actually chasing the police up the street with bricks, bats, bottles, and knives. Shocking stuff!
Things were even worse last night than the previous one and we wondered if we were going to have to just dash out of the house if the mobs came up the road and attacked the houses or cars on our street with fire-bombs and petrol. The live coverage on the BBC was not reassuring as we watched building after building all throughout the city being set alight by the mobs. And on this very street, waves of young men wearing hoodies rode by on their bicycles whilst talking into mobile phones. A mere few blocks from here, young men who looked and dressed just the same were seen on television lobbing bricks and bottles at the handful of riot police who were forced to retreat up the street due to the sheer numbers of their attackers.
We both walked around today like zombies from fatigue. We had to get up again and again to check on what the noises were outside. The sirens were racing by at the end of the street and the BBC and police helicopter were RIGHT over our block for hours.
Some of the merchants in our area finally decided that enough was enough and dozens of merchants down near the Hackney mall formed an impromptu group and chased the mobs of mainly young people in their teens and twenties down the street — but that civilian action didn’t unfold until after 10 PM last night and rather a lot of damage had been done by then. Some of their small shops may never recover from the theft and damage and I rather doubt that all of the affected shop owners, homeowners, and renters who have been impacted by this violence will have adequate insurance coverage to begin to get back on their feet. It’s a mind-boggling dilemma to witness young people acting out to such an extent that they may have destroyed their own community’s ability to start afresh.
Hopefully I will be able to move back to lifestyle and travel news rather soon. But the events of the last few days are serious issues that affect lives, incomes, well being, safety, health, and the morale of a country. I would dearly love to see Britain regain a firm foothold rather quickly.
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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09/08/2011 at 8:00 PM Comments (4)