Category Archives: Bad Times
To The Tune of We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel
Autumn Statement Day today, George Osbourne go away,
Slashing, cutting, burning, hurting, borrowing yet more,
Growth too weak, The Poor Must Pay, It has always been this way,
Cut their wages, Freeze Tax credits, Leave the bankers be.
Council houses, right to buy, they don’t need no alibi,
Maggie Thatcher, back again, in the guise of richer men
Pouring money into schools, not the sort the poor would use,
Bastards, wankers, Tory Bankers, Condem Government.
The Poor didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
While the world was turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we can still fight it.
Sure Start Centres, EMA, Rights for workers in decay, Health Service Cuts are Deep. Big Society.
DLA, Student Fees, They don’t care who gets the squeeze, Deficit is all they say, It’s Absolute Shit.
Lib Dem, Nick Clegg, “Brake on Tories”, backing them. Opposition just won’t fight, as the slashing starts to bite.
The Elite, Millionaires, Stupid if you think they care; Time to strike and make a stand – Agitate and make demands.
So I say on STRIKING day – I support you, DON’T GIVE WAY!
We didn’t start the fire
Repeat to end.
Yeah, I’m aware of the scansion is a bit off, but I’m ANGRY Goddammit.
I was away in Liverpool when the trouble in London began.
My friends and I were out eating tapas and drinking sangria on Saturday when the protests began. We were back in our rented apartment eating cheese and biscuits and laughing together when the looting started and when we switched on the TV, the rolling news coverage from Hackney was shocking, but as it blared it was in the background to our evening, we didn’t watch it closely.
The next day was taken up entirely with attending a christening and being drunken fools.
We had no idea that London was becoming a frightening, burning place where people took what they wanted and petrol bombed shops and homes while throwing missiles at the police.
As we travelled home on Monday, we chatted and laughed on the train and nursed our poor aching heads.
It was only when I got home and flicked on BBC News 24 that the full magnitude of what was happening finally started to sink in. It was Monday the 9th August and Hackney, Lewisham, Croydon, Woolwich and Ealing were literally on fire.
I watched the rolling news coverage for hours.
I checked my facebook and found that one of my best friends (who had been in Liverpool with us) was very frightened as a mob screamed and smashed their way down the street in which she lives.
I watched on twitter as the hashtag #LondonRiots spawned more and more scared and desperate tweets.
I waited for the town I live in to become overrun and ached at the pictures of children looting without shame or fear, many of whom looked to be the same age as my own.
I went to sleep with the news still broadcasting stories of people losing their homes and businesses and hope.
I spent yesterday, at work, listening for police sirens and helicopters. I obsessively trawled twitter for my town. I was scared to go out for food at lunchtime, and when I received a call from Tom at 3pm saying that all the shops were being shuttered or boarded up, I almost cried in fear. Panic was setting in, rumours flew across the internet,then by text and we were scattered. Tom at home, me at work and Ollie at a local holiday playscheme.
As I drove home, the streets were eerily quiet. Police roamed empty streets and the pubs, restaurants and shops all looked blandly, blindly back at me through hastily erected boards of wood.
Another night of watching the constant new coverage, this time as Manchester and Birmingham erupted in violence, and I worried for my friends who live there, and felt fury that this was happening (Manchester is one of my favourite cities to visit and to see the streets where I have had such fun, and been so welcomed by locals, trashed was just…inexplicable)
Another night of twitter watching, this time with the added fun element of checking a neighbouring town which had a large vigilante group gathered.
Our town remained calm and quiet, although strangely so…the buses which passed by, usually full, were all empty.
Today, I arrived at work to discover that our offices had been broken into overnight. Not by rioters, but by a couple of (judging by the CCTV) young lads. They cut the phone lines before they smashed their way in and rummaged through our desks. They stole a locked petty cash box, which contained the grand sum of 4 pence (1 x 2p and 2 x 1p) and a knackered blackberry. This is the third robbery in our small business estate in as many months and is only notable by the very small amount of “swag” that they manage to take.
And so, I wonder…what is leading these children – because the media never call them that, they are always “youths” or “feral youths” or “scum” – to this? Where did it go so wrong?
And I think about the next party – the one I’m throwing in two days to celebrate my son’s eleventh birthday, the one I have been gabbing on about on my blog for weeks, and I will look at my son’s friends who come to dance and eat and play, and I will look at Tom’s friends who will come and grunt and eat and laugh and I wonder…What makes my children different to those who have been rioting and stealing trainers and talking about “bare feds” and the “po-po” and the “going hard”…
I am single mother. I work full time. Right now I can get childcare for my youngest, but that ends this year, my eldest child at fourteen, has been pretty much left to his own devices during school holidays since he was 12. Of course, I call him and check on him, of course he has a curfew, of course he is fully aware that should he be involved in something which brought the police to my door he would be better off in a youth offenders institute than living with me…but still. I have to work or we will be in poverty, I have to work or I will be denigrated as a “benefit scrounger” and my children would be written off before their lives had begun.
I’m lucky because I can earn a just about living wage by doing a Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 job. I am supremely lucky that my mum is an actual superstar angel and looks after the boys two days a week and after school, but what if I couldn’t earn a decent wage in 40 hours per week? What if I were utterly alone and having to supplement my income by doing two jobs? One of which was at night? What about if I were having to hold down three jobs, just to get enough food on the table?
I shouted and screamed at the coverage, I shouted and screamed at the boys who caused me such MORE work today..and landed more bills on the small business that I work for (which is struggling as it is) for the grand total of sweet FA…
These groups have destroyed their own communities. They have left people homeless, in my experience people who live above shops are not rich. Why have they looted poundshops? They have destroyed their own. Why?
But the more I think on it, the more I try and understand why the rioters have trashed their own communities and trashed the shops that they actually shop in; the more I wonder…and listen for sirens.
I’ve been ill this week. *waits for sympathy*
It started with a vicious sore throat, which meant that I spent Thursday night jumping up from the sofa to pull faces in the mirror in an attempt to see whether or not my throat was falling off.
It gathered pace on Friday with a dripping nose and a cough.
By Saturday I was unable to get out of bed, as every time I tried to, the floor suddenly appeared to be magnetic, and my head was made of metal. (see? I’m just talking bloody gibberish)
I have spent three days in bed, watching The Soprano’s, playing Bejewelled Blitz and eating Pringles.
So far no one else has caught my Plague, but I have an uncomfortable feeling this is only a matter of time.
Oliver has taken sensible precautions.
I am hoping to be back to “normal in the next couple of days because…
a) I’m pretty annoyed that I can’t score more than 450,000 points on Bejewelled even with this serious amount of effort
b) I’m starting to get a bit crushy on Tony Soprano
c) I’m actually gaining weight from the Pringles mainlining.
UPDATE: I actually FAINTED at work and had to call a cab to get me home and I cried on the phone and I was also actually sick and it’s been dreadful. Hence the delay in a new post. So. SHUT UP.