Riots In England (Part 1)
Riots in England!
(This piece was begun on 11/8/11, and was inspired by, or based on the riots of 9/8/11 in particular – a Monday night, in London)
He heard the riots were spreading; tonight they had the police and the establishment on the run. They were proving that the streets of London did not belong to the rich man, the multinationals and the forces of Law and Order which enforced the property laws which kept so many poor, for the benefit of the rich. Go to the high street for 9 pm and they could rub their noses in it. Hatreds boiled within him, mixed with the revolutionary words of books and papers he had read. He had to see this, the day when capitalism might totter at long last.
The young man was not impressed with the way his life was going. He had enjoyed dreams of success. As a musician he wanted to make his mark, but everyone said it had been done before. There was apparently little point in playing the guitar any more. He thought he was quite good, but when he played they were booed, probably because they weren’t as good as one of the famous bands. The band folded of course, like everything he cared about.
He went to college, then on to uni. He was quite intelligent they said, but he could not find anything he wanted to stick with. Job interviews he found quite unappealing, having to persuade interviewers he was really keen, really capable, better than all the other candidates, when that was so obviously not so.
He got the tube down there and true enough hundreds of young people like himself had turned up, responding to the revolutionary call of the internet. They were testing themselves against the glass windows of various shops down the High Street, and no police to be seen. They were in Tottenham and Hackney and other parts of the city. They had been outmanoeuvred, they were not here.
He saw a young woman in a hood, attacking a phone shop, along with other rioters. He admired the curves he could sense beneath the hooded jacket, and the flash of beautiful eyes beckoned to his sense of adventure. She was determined!
“Come on lads, get your baseball bats into it. We can get in! It’s easy!” She had a sexy voice which spoke to him powerfully. When she looked at him directly and asked him for his help he could not refuse. He the music man, the philosopher, the thinker, accepted a big stick someone got for him and he launched it with as much proud male force he could muster into the phone shop. He had bowed to her instruction, and her passion lent him strength. The glass had cracked. His own effort had been the crucial blow which breached it. For the moment he was the hero. Cries of encouragement turned to cheers.
“Well done mate,” said the young woman with the sensuous voice, which struck such a chord within him. “I could give you a kiss for that.”
“Thanks!” he beamed. “You led me to it, like Joan of Arc,” he explained.
“Joan of who?” She asked.
“She led the French to fight back in the middle ages,” he explained further.
“Oh I dunno about all that,” she said, “but you can have this kiss as a reward.” His head spun as she gave him a real kiss, right on the lips. Excitement flooded him as she led them into the shop. Hordes of young comrades followed into the shop searching for the phones, stopping only to discuss which phones they could use and which would not work. They bashed the objects which had no use and pocketed the ones they wanted or might trade later. Display boxes were being trashed all around. Some very young looking teenagers had got in and appeared very excited by what they could grab.
Somehow he felt his moment of glory might have passed. What did he care about mobile phones anyway. He’d already got one. He sensed that his job was done in this shop. The younger people could wreak their vengeance upon it if they wished. Somehow the idea returned to him that this revolt was not about the goods. He found he despised the comrades who just wanted to fill their pockets with free phones. They had trashed the place, venting their anger against the materialist society, sticking their fingers up at the big PLCs that used people as robots and to profit from.
He saw the girl again, in front of him. Now she had a brand in her hand. It had just been lit. He did not know where she had got it from. Perhaps this group of rioters were well organised after all. She yelled, “Have you got everything you want now? Its time to move on guys and girls. Its time to light the fires! She chucked it straight into the back of the shop and quickly it began to take hold. The youth were getting out of the shop now. She turned and went quickly, winking at him as he came within her sights. Dutifully he followed after her. It was time to go to other shops, to carry the revolution further down the high street.
Out in the fresh air of the High Street there was chaos. Chaos meant freedom; freedom from the police, they were nowhere to be seen yet. Word had it that they could not keep up with the riots which were springing up all over London. When one High Street was hit the riot leaders would send messages for a new High Street to be hit. The youth would remove themselves from one High Street and travel to the next one the leaders directed. That way the police could not keep up. By the time they arrived at one High Street another would be in flames! Buildings were on fire all along the street. Crowds milled about in the street, many of them participating in the revolution actively by smashing shops and some of them cars. There was freedom from the ordinary rules of society, no money to be paid. You could just take what you wanted, because you needed it, instead of having to wait while you saved up for it, or were given gifts or money at Christmas.
The next shop to be targeted was an electrical goods store. They sold TVs, music players, and computers, of all types, a big chain company, quoted on the stock exchange.
“Let’s help ourselves,” shouted the girl he had been following. “We can’t easily afford this stuff. The companies can pay. They owe this stuff to us.” She had a clear voice. He was impressed with her reasoning. She seemed quite educated to him. He was impressed. She knew not only what she was doing, but also why she was doing it.
He went in there and helped to destroy the shop, with revolutionary fervour. Others seemed most intent on pinching stuff, but he saw it as a chance to get even, to start a revolution. He didn’t even bother to pick anything up, while scores of young people ran in and helped themselves to TVs and music centres. He wanted to travel light and did not wish to be cluttered by having to carry anything. Others burdened themselves with as much as they could carry and could be seen heading home as soon as possible.
Then they were out into the streets. The call went up to move swiftly up the high street. Get some more shops! He felt solidarity with the others; he did not know any of them personally. But they laughed at things like he did and they were alright. Tonight the world was changing. Tomorrow would never be the same again after this. They were really showing the establishment what they all thought of their political games and their economic mess and the wasted lives they had in store for them all.
(to be continued)