Monday 8 August 2011

A riot... is an ugly thing

British people do not know how to riot. We are not natural rioters. To be natural rioters you need to be belligerent, motivated and susceptible to the persuasive powers of ideology. British people are introverted, houseproud and mostly Church of England. British people throw flour and eggs and pies at people. British people elected John Major to be their Prime Minister without much of a hint of irony.

The current London riots are stupid. Riots are almost always ultimately counterproductive for everyone, for starters. But they are so inescapably British that their aching pointlessness must be striking a total blank around Europe. In France or Spain, people will happily occupy a square for a week, chain their dog to an armoured car and throw darts at a police horse. In Britain, people have a riot on the hoof after a Saturday night in the pub, take Sunday OFF and then resume rioting AFTER WORK on Monday. The surefire way to stop these riots would actually be to make it rain of an evening.

I don't really know the ins and outs of what caused the London riots, it's something to do with the police shooting a man suspected of packing heat dead last week, I think. My patchy knowledge, however, would probably be sufficient to make me a commander in my own riot sub-squadron. I have no doubt that there are some people involved here with an intimate knowledge of the issues and an axe to grind. To those people I would politely suggest there's probably more constructive outlets. Outside of that half-dozen, though, it's just a load of people who are seeing other people throwing bricks at police cars and thinking, "I'm going to do that as well".

They should set up cordens and turnstiles at riots. No-one gets in to riot unless they are able to correctly answer 75% of any questions regarding what the riot is about. Some dickheads burning down Lidl and stealing a telly because they saw some other people doing it too does not an ideological army make.

I imagine that people will soon start to liken 2011 to thirty years ago, in 1981. Civil unrest. Inner-city rioting. Recession. Unemployment. Royal Wedding. Maybe Ghost Town by The Specials will make it to number 1. I'm not sure quite what will happen before all of this dies down and what the government will do to resolve tensions, but if I lived on the Falkland Islands I'd be making sure my insurance was fully comp.

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