Anarchy in the UK

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

It's a little bit difficult to write anything here without mentioning the events of the past forty-eight hours. I had planned to get all high and mighty and tell you that I'd returned to the running club after a three week layoff; a layoff that was brought about by nothing more than idleness and indolence; but I'd imagine you'd be looking into your computer screen and hissing:

'Bollocks to the running club! What about the riots?'

So while treading very carefully and avoiding falling foul of any extant policies on the use of social networking media, I offer you this:

It was Monday afternoon and in our own enclave of South West London we doubted any of the weekend's rioting and looting that had scarred other areas of the capital. After all, as I stated in a former post, Battersea has become something of an upmarket location in recent years. And when we saw groups of young, masked hoodies giving the riot-gear clad bobbies the run around outside the fire station it was more comedic than serious. A kind of Benny Hill romp in Burberry.

However, when the smoke grenades started being aimed at the fire station it became a bit more of a serious proposition. Then we heard tales of a local fire engine being targeted in Brixton and hoodies removing the axes from the lockers and using them as a means to gain entry to the crew inside. Apparently it was just the quick reaction and remarkable ability of the driver that got the crew and appliance out of a pretty sticky situation. It's not easy to perform a J-turn in a fire engine.

We pitied the oncoming watch as we changed over and headed home. One of our number didn't actually get there due to meeting a hostile band of natives just up the road who surrounded him on his motorcycle and proceeded to kick seven bells out of him. He's now recovering at home with an interestingly coloured torso and the word 'ADIDAS' temporarily imprinted on his face. Part of what occurred later that night is captured here on Youtube. The area was continually misrepresented by the press as 'Clapham.' It is in fact Clapham Junction......which is in Battersea.

Driving into work the following day was like entering some kind of war zone. The detritus of a hard night's looting was spread across the road that spanned the sealed off area of Clapham Junction. Broken glass was absolutely everywhere and the still burning party shop seen in the video above belched black smoke into the sky.

It wasn't long before we were out on the fire engine relieving the tired and dirty crews that had been fighting the fire during the night. They had done a good job considering the upper floors were inaccessible due to the staircases being burnt through. In fact, they had done such a good job that by 14:00 we had the fire fully out and the scene cool. My crew were filthy, hungry and exhausted and we began to wind the job up, all the while watched by a crowd of community minded locals who had arrived with brooms to help clear the mess up. At that stage they were held behind tape and a line of coppers but they waved their brooms indicating their burning desire to get to work (Note to self: If this type of community assistance continues I wonder how viable it will be to claim that my garden has been set upon by a gang of rioting, green-fingered hoodies?)

Just then I saw the blonde, bouffant head of a stout, suited man in the distance. He was surrounded by an entourage of hangers on and a woman I instantly recognised as Theresa May. And they were heading our way.

'Stand by, chaps,' I said. 'Boris is on his way. Look lively and make sure your chinstraps are done up.'

'Nah, it ain't Boris,' said one of my lads. 'He's on holiday.'

'He cut his hols short 'cos of the riots,' I explain.'He flew back this morning.'

As I affected my most professional stance, scanning the front elevation of the building for hot spots, I watched the Mayor's approach out of the corner of my eye.

Make sure my handshake is firm.

Make sure I speak clearly and don't swear.

Make sure I take complete responsibility for all the hard work the other crews did.

Boris was almost upon me, walking with purpose. I did a final check of my lads ensuring they weren't slacking or fucking about.

I was sure I could smell Boris's aftershave masking the fading tang of Factor 30 sun lotion.

I swivelled to meet the Mayor of London and held my hand out to greet him.

I'm sure I saw Theresa May make that hairy palmed gesture at me as Boris swept past us majestically, not even acknowledging our existence, intent on engaging with the group of volunteer cleaners, all waving their brooms like demented Mary Poppins.

'Right guys, pack up, we're going home,' I instruct my lads and we head off back to the station for a cheese roll and a round of mutual back-slapping.

So as I wind this blog post up we had a quiet night in London last night. The clue might be in the 16,000 pissed off coppers on the streets and various gangs of vigilantes. I'm kinda hoping they're out and pissed off tonight too because I'm about to head back to SW11.



runforit said...

Greetings from Canada!

Neil and I have been watching the news and were thinking of you and your crew! We are coming to London near the end of the month and after a week in Italy a few more days in London. Thank-you to you and your team for all that you do!

Carolyn and Neil

Davie said...

Much as I love you and your crew, even the BBC have removed the UK bit of their tickertape news. They had Riots in the UK and it's now England Riots. We jocks know how to behave.
By the way, did I see a Greggs on fire. If that had happened in Glasgow it would have been war not poofy riots!

Mark said...

Anonymous said...

Knowing that one of our Family is there in the thick of this living nightmare brings it all a bit closer to us than simply just watching it on the TV screen as some kind of live docudrama type thing hundreds of miles away.

Make sure to keep your head above water, but below the parapet ~ look after yourself and your guys. That's most important.

Meanwhile I wonder what Boris had to say on his blog about his deftly body swerving the outstretched hand of the Lead Fireman..... He certainly missed a trick there.


Mike Reginald Mason said...

our daughter would have been living in Stratford. Luckily she is on Gap tour and just hit Oz. Look after yourself Dave.....