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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10th August - Electric Avenue

I’ve not had chance to write a blog recently. Being very worthy and using public transport comes at a price – my time. It has been an interesting experience that will no doubt be mentioned in blogs when I do have time to catch up.
I was let out of work early yesterday. Rumours were flying around the office that New Street Station was closing and Birmingham City centre would have a curfew at 3pm this afternoon. This is as the result of Monday night’s riots. I struggle to call them riots, as I am not sure that there was a political purpose to them. Attacks were not on civil buildings, there were no placards explaining the protest. Just wanton vandalism and looting. Pure criminality and theft.
All porporting to be by the 'youth'. A generation that has had the shitty end of the stick. Parents that haven’t encouraged them, in life, failed schools and then no jobs  for their limited skills. Well that’s the woolly liberal in me out in the open, and that’s enough. Too many of our population has a sense of entitlement that hasn’t been earned – it’s their human right to have a Sony Plasma, the Adidas trainers and i-phone the rest of us have had to work and pay for. All taken from shops selling them. Of course when the court cases come forward (as the most watched nation by cctv, many of them will inevitably get caught) the majority of them will already have had free money to live off via the Welfare State, preferring that as a career option to work. No wonder they’ve got the energy to nick a plasma at 11 o’clock at night – I’m fast asleep then as I’ve got to go to work in the morning. (In Burton, we have Greggs to thank for the lack of rioting – everyone is so fat, that they haven’t got the strength to smash the window to nick the goods and are too unfit to run away. Maybe I’ve hit on a solution to over crowded prisons and crime prevention. Get prisoners to eat 3 Greggs pies a day and they will be too fat to commit burglary.)
Walking to the station was intimidating. I’m not sure how much of this was in my mind, and how much was actuality. It’s the summer holidays, so you’d expect kids to be hanging around in the city centre, its what they do. But normally the manager of the shop does not have bouncers on the door. Or wood where the window used to be. There are always plastic plods about, but today the real police were out and about. In New Street station the shutters were coming down on the shops – the mobile phone shops had not even bothered to open.
Stories were coming out all day at work.
The Father in Law who’s pub was trashed in Digbeth – an ordinary guy, trying to make his way in the world, running his own business.
The youths with wheelie bins that emptied their electronic contents into the boot of a car in a side street, sounds a little too organised to be a spontaneous reaction - and an adult involved? Organised crime perhaps?
200 kids running past your window, as you have your tea.
And of course the internet rumour of the Bull in the Bull ring losing its head. (yep solid bronze – don’t know who brought the acetlene torch and cutting gear.) If it has been the one made of jelly beans in Selfridges I’d have believed it.
G asked me if the Villa shop had been burnt out. My reply was, of course, ‘no, only their players are’.
This morning I walked from the station to work. Last night Corporation Street got it - the trendy boutique, another phone shop, or two caught my eye. Workmen were out boarding up shops. I was walking across a lot of broken glasss. The little pub on the corner by work with the Victorian leaded windows - gone. Two little newsagents operating without a front door. Decent hard working individuals being hit. Broken Britain.
It of course reminded me of the summer of 1981, when 4-5 years of youth unemployment, heavy police presence led to rioting in Brixton followed by Toxteth, Handsworth, Hyson Green Chapeltown etc. The music of the time reflected the frustration of the youth - the generation that are now watching their businesses being trashed. I am spoilt for a song to choose for a title to highlight the issues – Police and Thieves – Junior Marvin, White Riot-- Clash, Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant, and Ghost Town The Specials. I chose Electric Avenue, as my nan proudly told me that's where she lived when she first got married. I didn't believe her, thinkinig that it was a coincidence for some sunnt beach as it was a happy tune, but the message about the Brixton riots around in the lyrics was a serious one. A wise old bord, she was right (again).

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