Today I was working in Walthamstow, a part of London that was touched the night before by the London riots. On the way in via the M25 I witnessed the giant plume of smoke rising from the Sony Distribution Centre in Enfield. It was still smoking when I drove home, having left the second school I was working at an hour early because the Police warned us trouble might be beginning in the town centre (at the time of writing I don't know whether that's materialised).
All the way there and back I listened variously to Radio 4, 5 and BBC London, all on the subject of the riots. And my feeling and opinions on the subject have run a familiarly Libran gamut from liberal leftie to beseiged little englander.
I believe most people taking part in these "street things", which are neither a protest, nor an insurrection, nor what in many ways can be called a riot, are doing it because, if they stopped to ask themselves why, they'd ask "why not?".
I have taught, I have no doubt, teenagers who were involved in riots this weekend. I know that, given the opportunity, any and every child can be an angel. Or a devil. I know some are way worse than others, and that there are elements in their environment that can lead them into temptations and allegiances most of us are blessed to never have to encounter. And it is my deeply held belief that we should look at the wider practices of our current society before damning out of hand the behaviour of individuals at the bottom of the heap.
I also know that, if any one of these individuals had raided my shop or torched my home, they would be pieces of shit I would willingly see shot in the face. Hearing the stories of people who have suffered at the hands of arsonists, looters and mobs it is impossible not to feel their fear and be amazed at their lack of hatred.
I have already tweeted the suggestion that looters and arsonists might be reclassified as zombies so you can treat them accordingly. And it will only be a matter of time before we read, on Twitter or suchlike, "Where's Anders Breivik when you need him?"
So I am very much on both sides. Wanting the cause to be educated away (I have the usual answers: Geo-Stationary Lottery Funding which pays for Smaller Class Sizes; the removal of Tax Exemption from Private Schools which could fund Ability-Based Meritricious Schools (I suppose I mean Grammar Schools) etc) but also wanting an immediate solution, which in the minds eye is more Punisher meets Shaun Of The Dead than I'll bet the Chief Commissioner of the Met currently has on a screen in front of him.
Tonight I shall be Youtoobling. I'll start with the riots and inevitably get distracted. Here's a good start,
Darcus Howe on the subject
I'm with Darcus in principle. Though, let's face it, I am more likely to be the sort of person living in a flat that gets torched than running along the street with a Molotov cocktail, so come on Darcus, what are you saying? Look at me, so balanced I could be on the Beeb.
Catch A Looter
Bankers get mentioned a lot in this, though I noticed their houses have survived intact.
It's an ill wind. This is who I predict is behind this whole riot thing: Oh come on, royalties is royalties
Riot In Cell Block 9 Doctor Feelgood
White Riot The Clash
White Riot live in Hackney 1978 The Clash
Cop Killer Ice T and Body Count
New York City Cops The Strokes
Revolution The Beatles
Ohio Crosby Still Nash & Young (the band Fleet Foxes are doing).
From the album Riot: Misery Blues by Paramore
Rodney King, LA Riots