Another night, another night of riots, arson and casual lootery, relatively untrammeled by the efforts of law enforcement, and perhaps slightly slowed down by the efforts of massed local residents and business owners. After three or four nights of this destruction, which leaves the internet plastered with pictures that look like the aftermath of the WWII Blitz, I would have hoped that the local residents were beginning to assemble and barricade their streets, rather than leave them open for the ‘hoodies’ to do their worst. I’d have also hoped that the police were starting to think about responding to the mob hoodlum element with more than sandbags and rubber bullets, but hey – I’m just one of those terroristic Tea partiers, presently resident in the state of Texas. Of which many and sometimes justifiable criticisms might be made and usually are, by superior Euroweenies having a fit of lefty vapors over the relative déclassé-ness of it all – but one of the good points about living here is that the incidents of home-invasion robberies are refreshingly few in number.
Not a claim that can be made in once-Great Britain for the past few years, alas – where those who uphold Her Majesty’s laws of late seem to be more inclined to prosecute those who use any kind of weapon at hand to defend themselves in a robbery or home-invasion situation. Nope – not the case around these parts: it’s very likely that a canvass of my immediate neighborhood might turn up more weapons than the standing army of many small European states. Law-enforcement is also rather refreshingly understanding with regard to the plight of those citizens who – under fairly strictly defined circumstances and in legitimate fear of their lives or the lives of their family – have defended their homes and castles with deadly force and dropped a miscreant stone cold on the hearth-rug, or as was the case a couple of years ago, on the doormat. (Elderly woman, living alone, local scumbag energetically trying to force open her front door. She warned him three times that she had a gun, local scumbag ignored the warning, and she drilled him straight through the front door.) Usually in these cases, the homeowner has the subdued congratulations of the local police for taking out the trash. To your average superior Euroweenie this is just the same exactly as Old West gunfights in the street practically, and an excuse for a bit of hyperventilating. Eh – whatever. It might also be the case that – depending on the year and location – communities in the Old West could just have been a good bit safer than certain of the big cities in the Old East, but that’s a discussion for another day.
No, I started on London. Ancient. Historic. The cynosure of an Empire, the great queen city of the Anglosphere. I knew it before I even set foot in it, so marinated for having read two thousand years worth of history and literature, in which it was the center – or near to the center – of all things. Built and rebuilt again, from Roman to Anglo-Saxon, to Norman, Elizabethan, Georgian, re-engineered by the great Victorian builders, rebuilt after the Great Fire, and again after the Blitz, and so many other relatively minor disasters . . . eternal, grand, sometimes scruffy around the edges, but comfortable and welcoming to my younger brother and sister and I, when we arrived in the early summer of 1970. We stayed in a tiny B & B in Clapham Common, one of those miniscule late Victorian brick row houses, just wide enough for a single room and a hallway alongside, and a walled garden out in back. The owner who confirmed our reservation included in his letter exhaustive, detailed and step-by-step instructions for reaching his place from the airport where our student charter flight landed. We were to take a certain train, which we would find upon walking out the front of the airport, get off at a particular stop, then walk down so many feet on a certain street to a bus stop, which we would find opposite a certain shop (he included a detailed street map for this) take a specific bus, which we would exit on Clapham High Street at another stop (which he instructed us to tell the bus conductor that we were to exit the bus at, and this part included another segment of street map), thereupon to walk so many feet on a particular direction, before turning left . . . and his establishment would be so many houses down that street on the right.
And so we did – and we stayed for three days, before relocating to the Youth Hostel just around the corner from St. Pauls’ on Ludgate Hill. In the six days of our wandering summer spent in London, we saw all the touristical sights, to include the Tower of London, I bought books at Foyles, and explored Westminster Abbey . . . and one of the ancient established street markets – was it Golder’s Green? – where I bought a length of wool for Mom to make a bespoke pair of pants for Dad – which I don’t think she ever did. Fleet Street, and Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Regent’s Park, and all these little hidden-away neighborhoods; we met nothing but nice people. And now that town is burning again. Is this the way that civilization ends, at the hands of insolent and brutal looters, while the populace and the government stands helpless against them? Is that little side street in Clapham one of those threatened? Are the little, old-fashioned Victorian store fronts along Clapham High Street among those smashed and looted, while the owners of those small businesses wait for a sure defense, or perhaps take matters into their own hands at last?
Interesting times. Interesting times.
(Cross-posted at The Daily Brief)