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Panic on the streets of London

It seems I haven't written here in ages ...but maybe some of that is because this week packed a full week of news in two days. I complain about how celebrity and scandal driven the news is here, but by Monday night I was eager for more stories about secret weddings and topless dips in the Med. Instead I had a return to full-on Riot Survival Mode, as all of my brain tried to suck up every scrap of info it could get ahold of to figure out Where Is It Safe and How Can I Get Home (and should I even be heading that way). Who would think the lessons learned when the WTO came to Seattle were actually reusable life skills? But constant monitoring of internet news, enhanced by phone calls to people with thicker pipe access and interviews with those "on the ground" (Tube station attendants, who would hear if there were problems on other points of the line) and of course undending feeds from total strangers thanks to Twitter, meant I was able to accurately assess danger and even warn a friend off of travelling through Clapham.

In many ways I think this is exactly what our overly large brains are built to do. Much poorer are their abilities to analyze root causes of these kinds of problems. Simple answers are easy and satisfying while neither they nor the solitions derived from them tend to prove correct in hindsight. As I see it, in six days it's gone from people looting and torching businesses and people's homes to everyone fighting with everyone else about whodunnit and why and still almost no ideas yet about what is needed to prevent this in the future (at least none that I find compelling). I'm revolted to find people eager to say "Yeah but XXX is just as bad!" as if pointing out someone else's bad behavior gets us in anyway closer to understanding the whys. It's like a feeding frenzy of despair and hatred and I have no desire to join in the finger pointing. I'll keep reading and thinking and engaging people personally, and if I ever feel like I've figured out "the cure" I'll certainly try to help put it in action. But til then, I'd like to see a lot less hatred from everyone.

Meanwhile: still looking for a new job, and looking forward to the weekend.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 12th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad you knew how to keep yourself safe instead of going into meltdown like so many others (and I'm including people who were nowhere near any bloody rioting *faceppalm*).

What are you doing this weekend then? :)
Aug. 12th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
Well during the day Saturday I'm going to a festival in Crystal Palace, then getting an early night in before getting my kayak certification!

Any chance of coming to London for my "celebrate getting my visa" party? I can put you up on my couch - it's the Sunday before the Bank Holiday Monday. I miss you.
Aug. 14th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
I miss you too and have written the date on my calendar.

Unfortunately I am somewhat trapped as if I go anywhere and ATOS want to visit I'll get in trouble, but I "should" hear about that sooner rather than later (given their level of incompetence so far this will involve crossed fingers).

I'm going to be up as of tomorrow in hospital though. Check out my FB post as I'd be delighted to see you x
Aug. 12th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you and yours have been safe through this. Yes, the lessons of WTO continue to be surprisingly useful, even in non-riot conditions.
Aug. 12th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
I was really wondering how you were doing in all that, but didn't want to ask in case you'd gotten to that place where you wanted to talk about ANYTHING else. (I know I do that under sufficient stress!) But I'm glad you're okay. And wow, that's two more riots survived than me. Good for you for being able to help your friend.

If you feel like talking about it, I'd love to hear what your lessons learned were and how you navigated a situation like that. I've never had to do it.

Good on you for being a voice of reason. I'm really glad you're okay.
Aug. 12th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Happy to chat but I don't have the answers to "what to do if you're in a march and it turns into a riot" or "how to protect your place if people are rioting in front of it" so I feel like my answers are lame - it's all about staying the f**k out of it. Boring! But I guess you of all people would not criticize for my focus being on not getting into the middle of things in the first place.
Aug. 12th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
I'm guessing you mean Battersea rather than Clapham, as Clapham Junction/surroundings were hit, and they're actually in Battersea (due to an attempt to attract the middle classes when the station was built).

There was trouble there on the Monday night, though fortunately we went home early, as many of us use that station. However, it didn't appear to return afterwards.

I'm just wondering if we'll see some more trouble this weekend, though I'm suspecting not.

Aug. 12th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
No Clapham, right across from the station where the party shop was set on fire.
Aug. 12th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, the area you are referring to is actually part of Battersea, not Clapham.

"Clapham Junction railway station is near St John's Hill in the south-west of Battersea in the London Borough of Wandsworth. Although it is in Battersea, the area around the station is commonly identified as Clapham Junction." (source)

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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