I'm sure you've seen the news reports of the chaos, the lootings, the homes and businesses being burnt to the ground. I'm not going to use this blog as a platform to have a rant about the underlying roots of this kind of unrest, or the significance of the criminal actions being focused on the frenzied acquisition of consumer goods. But I do want to share a couple of stories about the positive side of human nature, of the culture of community, that may not have reached all my international readers.
On Monday morning, I opened my front door to find boxes from looted electronics littering the pavement, rocks from a riot strewn across the street, the stores round the corner completely ransacked, almost every shop window on the high street smashed in and destruction inside. A feeling of fear almost gripped me, a desire to barricade myself indoors and never trust anyone ever again. But standing there on the corner of Brixton Road was a lady handing out cupcakes. A simple gesture. I was hurried across the road so didn't get to taste one but seeing her there was enough to put a little smile on my face and to remind me that the world isn't so bad after all.
A bigger gesture is that there are the gatherings of people - calling themselves Wombles - armed with brooms rather than baseball bats, coming together to clean up the streets. Doing something constructive, but also making a stance to reclaim the streets and show the people whose businesses have been destroyed that there are people willing to help out.