Monday, August 08, 2011

And The City of Dreams Burns...

I'm angry. Very angry.

Tonight is the third night in a row that various parts of London are beseiged by rioters; groups of youth vandalising shops, burning cars, attacking bus drivers and generally terrorising their neighbourhoods. I've spent much of the evening texting friends, trying to ensure that they are safe & haven't been stranded or affected (too much) by the violence spilling out into the streets.

And the anger inside me keeps building.

Why am I angry? Because it is happening to a city that I love and care very deeply about. London is one of my favourite places in the whole world. As the city that I have lived in & call home (despite the efforts of its public transport system, its government or general miserable weather) I find it a comfortable, welcoming, dynamic, international and utterly fabulous place. I am very proud to identify myself as a Londoner, as one of the millions who has been a part of this city & its fabric for the past six years. I was a Londoner the day that the IOC announced London trouncing Paris in its bid for the 2012 Olympics. I was a Londoner the following day when bombs ripped through the London tube, and I had to walk for three hours along the river to make it home. I was a Londoner that day in September 2008 when the markets opened the weekend after Lehman Brothers collapsed (in fact, at that time, I was one of the bankers that worked night & day to get through the mayhem of September 2008).

And I was a Londoner that day in August 2009 when I returned to the city after several months away backpacking. I had been to 3 continents, 14 countries, some amazing historical sites, some poignant memorials to human achievement and human depravity. And despite all that, I felt nothing but a sense of coming home that day that I landed in Heathrow. I was back in London.

I was home.

And so, when I watch the news, when I see the streets and suburbs devastated and damaged, I feel nothing but utter rage against the criminals who feel it acceptable to vandalise the city that is home to so many people like me. People who may not be from the UK, people who would not be missed probably by millions of people across the UK if we left, but people who by virtue of who we are and by virtue of making this amazing city our home make London the place that it is.

People who are Londoners, through & through.