It’s only Tuesday but this week feels like it’s been going on for a very long time!
London, which is usually such a vibrant city, is eerily quiet. As a friend of mine said you can almost hear a pin drop outside. On my walk home from work this evening many pubs and restaurants, usually bustling on a sunny evening, were closed, shops had their shutters down and walking down New Cavendish to the tube, the streets were strangely empty.
Even though I haven’t seen any looting, burning, or rioting in my area, the fear that has gripped all of London, has also taken hold of me. Despite knowing it would be OK, I had to tell myself that I would be safe tonight to take my usual route swimming which passes through a residential area where a lot of young people always hang out.
Last night I stayed up late glued to BBC News watching the riots unfold across the city and tensing every time a siren passed outside. When I finally turned off my light I lay in the dark and realised that I was actually a little bit scared; it wasn’t something happening miles away, it was right outside! In a place like London where you almost take your safety for granted, it was scary.
In the bright morning sunlight everything seemed better. But when my two colleagues and I got off the train in East Croydon for a client meeting, we were met with the lingering smell of burning and the drone of police helicopters hovering overhead.
As 5.30pm drew closer, the atmosphere in the office was tense, people jumped at bangs and the constant updates on Twitter and other media outlets of riots breaking out all over the city made everyone a bit nervous. Most people left early and went straight home, something we rarely do in our office. As I walked home I found myself wearily observing groups of young people and walking past in a hurry.
Everyone is inside and waiting for something to happen tonight, but the thugs who have so mindlessly looted and damaged the capital over the last three nights seem to be lying low. Maybe that’s due to tonight’s greater police presence and the fact that they are ready to use rubber bullets, or because the rioters are waiting for another night to attack the city!