Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Because what this really needs is another ha'pennies worth

I feel like Kate Ashfield in Shaun of the Dead;

"Can everyone! Just calm! The fuck! Down!

I live in South London, but I'm not indulging in much flames-and-smashed-glass rhetoric today. I went to bed fairly normally last night, after sitting in front of Twitter and various news channels for several hours. (I did drift off to sleep to the sound of distant sirens though - more on them in a sec.)

Yes, some pretty violent and unpleasant things have been happening over the last couple of days, showing humans and Londoners definitely not at our best.

But rolling TV news does make it look worse than is. We're not under marshall law just yet; and for those talking about rubber bullets and water cannons, let's try and remember that a lot of the people causing trouble are, well, so very young. In the long-term, is that really going to help?

Of course, that's not to say that a lot of people haven't had their businesses ruined, or faced some pretty scary stuff last night. Because they did. And that's horrible.

It feels like a small tipping point has been reached. However it started, people are looking for any excuse to smash a window and nick some stuff.

Which shows that there are some pretty unhappy people out there, doesn't it? People don't really do that if they are able to live happy and fulfilled lives (here comes the preachy). The further away the people at the top get from the people at the bottom, the less happy society as a whole is going to be. I firmly believe that. Wealth distribution should be even.

(FYI, this piece in today's Grauniad is excellent - and one of the few pieces I've seen not written from some white, middle-aged dude.)

It's hard when buildings are burning down, but the bigger picture is that a lot of things in the way we live are not working, and a lot of people let down by 'the system' are more or less left to get on with it (hey, you all know my lefty vibe).

And it's not everyone, either. Reading Twitter last night (before it got all hysterical and shouty) showed more than handful of positive stories. Kids helping people home and stuff. Let's not demonise everyone under the age of 20. Because if you do that, then that's what they become.

And let's remind ourselves that places like Brixton or Peckham are not war zones, whatever the media says; they are places like any other, where some good stuff happens and some bad stuff happens. (Props to my friend (and Peckham dweller) CheddarChica's ace blog post from last night.)

But as I'm halfway through the very interesting Blood, Sweat & Tea, I can't help thinking about all the people in the emergency services working the last few days*. You know. Although those buggers being laid off and having their pay scruntinised in the press.

I'll be honest, I'm a bit worried about what the response to all this will be once everything has settled down. It's a good excuse for a stronger-than-really-needed attitude, particularly with heavy handed legislation. It may not just be a couple of politicians holiday that get ruined; if this is handled poorly, then reactionaly politics could land us in bigger problems.

Anyway. What do I know? That's all my guff on this. As you were.

**UPDATE: Basically, what LC said, in far fewer words.**

* Although as the book points out, which surprised me a bit, the ambulance service is not technically an emergency service. Really? Really!? Then worrahellisit?!


Boz said...

Also more positive stories about the cleanup on the rolling news, rights for vegetables and peace, please.

Annie said...

Danny Baker on Twitter: