Tuesday, 9 August 2011
This is London
Readers, I don't know what to say. It's hard to describe my feelings about the chaos and disorder on the streets of London without sounding overly-emotional or trite. But this is heartbreaking stuff. Some of the riots are just down the road from here, so for the last couple of evenings we've had an urban soundtrack of police helicopters and sirens. Not that we're scared for our safety. We're just scared for our city. Poor London. I was planning on meeting a friend this evening for drinks at Frank's Bar in Peckham - but we've decided to postpone rather than see ourselves silhouetted against the burnt-out ruins of a multi-storey car park on News at Ten. So, Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age will be staying indoors instead. And, in a personal attempt to reclaim the city, I've started reading London Perceived by V.S Pritchett. A fantastic book. Which has a quote by Henry James that sums up (better than I can) my feelings for this city:
'It is difficult to speak adequately or justly of London. It is not a pleasant place, it is not agreeable, or cheerful, or easy, or exempt from reproach. It is only magnificent....But...for one who takes it as I take it, London on the whole is the most possible form of life.'
And there's an excellent piece by Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company in today's Independent. It's called 'Caring costs - but so do riots,' and you can read it here.
Normal service will resume shortly.
Photo: Evelyn Hofer