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The Life of P

Tag: london

London Riots

I think the riots have provoked such a reaction from Londoners because destroying one’s own community displays a logical disconnect that offends the British sensibility. Violence during the G20 protests was at least targeted around financial institutions and the Square Mile. This morning Londoners behaved in an entirely British way, shaking their heads at the damage and going to work as normal, while others engaged in communal clean-up efforts that go a long way in restoring faith in society. While it sounds like more is yet to come, I’ll share some words on last night and images from this morning.

Perhaps fortunately, looters hit Walworth Road early yesterday. The police response was to close off the road, my bus announcing its diversion as it reached Elephant & Castle. Hopping out I headed down and found a police line guarding virtually nothing. From that end the road looked deserted and calm, belying the violence occurring (and ostensibly being allowed to occur) further along. I called Anna and suggested she head back via Kennington instead.

The mainstream media may spin Twitter as being the tool used by rioters to organise their movements, but in truth Londoners were using Twitter primarily to ascertain which areas of the city should be avoided and which remained safe. It became clear that, while it was not going up in flames, Kennington was not free from trouble either, so I threw on a pair of jeans, donned an old hoodie as camouflage (a good reason to keep hold of nondescript uni stash!) and headed out towards the station to find Anna and ensure she made it home safely.

The roads were eerily quiet, punctuated by bursts of noise, most rioters presumably having headed further south. Two cars swerved around the corner of a building across the road. Dark figures jumped out of the cars, one asking “which way did they go?”. Whether they were referring to pursuers or prey remained unclear. I checked on a few young guys at a bus stop, one of whom was compressing his friend’s head wound. Blood pooled on the floor at his feet, but he remained lucid and coherent. An ambulance had been called and they were waiting for its arrival. I wondered momentarily why the third in their group was topless: ah, that would be his shirt being pressed against his friend’s head. He paced, shivering slightly in chill night air.

Sharing the experience many have echoed, aside from the initial cordon at the quiet end of Walworth Road an hour earlier, I did not see a single police officer. The centre of Kennington appeared to remain relatively safe (perhaps due to the paucity of lootable shops) but I understand sirens continued throughout the night as it became the best route for police to move between the north and south.

Stepping out onto the balcony after midnight, the lights of the London Eye gazed back at me in impassive silence. The flickering of television sets emanated from most flats, all tuned to the news, viewers glued to the violence occurring elsewhere. People seemed uncomfortable sleeping, unsure of where the violence may move through the city. The sense I had was that a caged beast had broken loose of its shackles and was determined to express its newfound freedom, knowing it was temporary, but roaring just to hear its own voice.

Prize Piece

I recently came across hikaru dorodango which sound like an extraordinarily cool thing to make. However I’m not entirely convinced that Kirsten would approve of my bringing quantities of mud into the flat, no matter how pretty it looks afterwards.

Meanwhile news recently broke that Al Gore et al have picked up the Nobel Peace Prize. Good on him — a prouder position than President these days, I imagine. On the other hand I find it curious that climate change is now considered “peace”. Are we at war with the planet, or perhaps merely the oil companies? While I would not detract from the awareness he may have increased, moreso in the States than here, take a look at the list he has joined. All those in recent memory gained recognition for championing democracy and human rights, finding peaceful solutions to long-standing conflicts, or reducing the use of military weapons. Do we now truly view preventing climate change as on the same scale? I am sure many do, but I remain unconvinced that the benefits of spreading such awareness can truly be compared to the sheer human impact resulting from the sterling achievements of the previous Peace Prize luminaries.

Moving to London leaves one somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer variety of food and entertainment available so it requires some forward planning to make best use of the available facilities. To aid in preparation I picked up a copy of new Time Out Eating & Drinking guide, and will mention the various new venues I discover as a result. In terms of entertainment, I am in dire need of a decent cinema, having grown rather too attached to having the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge just two minutes from my room. Anything off the central line seems fair game, so the likely candidates are The Electric and The Gate.

Recommendations of a culinary or cinematic nature are, of course, always welcome.

"Lack of imagination is an occupational hazard for an apex predator."

(CC) BY-NC 2005-2019 Priyan Meewella

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