By Bridget Barrett
London’s burning and Birmingham has fallen into mayhem. There is anarchy in the UK and arson attacks on the streets; what is happening to our cities in Britain?
On Saturday August 6th, a peaceful protest turned into a war zone with hell-bent riots where businesses such as Currys, Comet, Poundstretcher and JD Sport were all ransacked and looted.
On the following Monday, two girls who took part in more riots in Croydon boasted to the BBC World Service they ‘were showing the police and the rich that we can do what we want’.
Is this the mentality of the youth of today? Many buildings have been burnt down, such as a carpet shop in Croydon, one which provided a service for over 100 years was left to burn with no police or fire service present. A listed building dating back to the 1930s was burnt to the ground in Tottenham Hale as well as a Sony warehouse in Enfield. It’s London destroyed by thugs.
Other TV and Internet images appeared through the week, such as a woman calmly walking across the street with a shopping basket full of stuff she’s just looted, as if she was in a supermarket. Kids as young as 8 were acting as look-outs for their thuggish order siblings, parents actually collecting their darling offspring in car parks, in their people carriers, knowing they’d just looted a store and were ready to fill up the cars with the stolen goods.
The rioters targeted businesses and residential properties. People were left helpless and running for their lives and were forced to jump from burning buildings to escape the fires. Scenes of the rioting varied from cars set alight, shops looted with thugs ripping TVs off betting shops walls, to an empty, looted Currys on Sunday night.
The four nights of mayhem in London were repeated in other cities throughout Britain. Are the children out of control and why are they doing this to our communities? Is it just because they come from deprived areas, poor communities, dysfunctional families with high unemployment? Does this instill thoughts of little or no opportunities for their future? Or is it because of a more straight forward reason: sinister, selfish, gluttonous opportunistic greed? Because the scum appear to have absolutely no regard for others in any of the communities targeted.
The country has been complaining for some time about gang warfare and out of control teenagers, so why has it taken so long for the government to see that this is a real problem? Is it because now, finally, it’s affecting the functioning of London and other major cities in Britain?
The problem stems from the peer pressure gangs use against young children and power that they have. Adults have been powerless for years; rights taken away from teachers and the police that have allowed teenagers to develop gang cultures uninhibited and enforce this way of thinking. They have lost all sense of respect, community, family, while the concept of law and order doesn’t seem to exist in their culture or upbringing. Thanks to social networking, like Blackberry phones, communicating with each other is easy; they can organise their crimes and cause disruption to the lives of ordinary people and say ‘stuff you’ in the process.
They called the police “feds” and while wearing their “ballys” (balaclavas) brought vans, hampers, the lot; it’s the swagger language they use to communicate to each other. Then, armed with their ghetto gear, hoodies and, in some cases, knives, they headed to the nearest city/town to terrorise and bully communities regardless of colour or beliefs.
However, it’s not just the typical swaggering yobs that have been dragged into this mayhem, it’s since emerged the people that have so far been arrested since Monday night have ranged from a millionaire’s daughter, age 19, a graduate, aged 24, and teacher, aged 31, who, ironically, works with unprivileged kids. There were also a pair of twins, Icha and Micha Livingstone, both age 19, teenage students. Their mother claimed, “They were just in the area and police rounded everyone up and this will kill them.” Yeah, well, I’m not convinced by these reasons! Excuses are pouring in and some are as flippant as, “I got caught up in the anarchy mindset” or that “I didn’t intend to cause any trouble and I am a good person, I don’t like crime or stealing.” These are not excuses.
I believe these responses are lame and that some parents are defending their children by claiming they are good people.
Good people don’t go around venting revenge on people’s lives, burning cars and destroying businesses for the fun of it, all whilst looking for opportunities to rob businesses blind. These are ordinary folk who have done nothing wrong no matter how angry you are at society.
Even more shocking is that fact that half the people that have been arrested for rioting and looting shops are old enough to know better and have decent jobs and careers.
You can’t go around blaming Facebook and Twitter social networking sites either, it just doesn’t convince me. It is down to the people who use their services, not the service itself. People using the sites could have said no to the planned looting and rioting in the streets. The accused even seem to have the front to demand privacy from being identified outside the Courts; it’s just laughable. Well, I hope they enjoy their stolen HDTVs, Adidas trainers, new PlayStations and thousands of pounds of food. You wanted to cause mayhem and go on the rampage at all hours of the night, so when you lose your job, you’ve no one to blame but yourself – so well done.
The problem with English law is it’s too soft. As the girls from Croydon said, “We can do want we like” getting nothing more than a light ASBO order. This has to change and it has to change NOW. There should be no more freebies for rioting opportunists or soft sentences for these low life cretins, who think it’s their God-given right to go around destroying properties, businesses and homes.
The government has to start using hard punishments that demonstrate that this kind of aggressive, violent, thuggish, criminal behaviour will not be tolerated in a way that will make possible perpetrators stop and think; is having a criminal record, ruining my career prospects and losing a perfectly good job really worth a stolen £300 HDTV?
You can’t tell me that an 11-year-old does not know the difference between right and wrong! Especially when we all know that they should have been at home in their beds during the riots but instead they were out at all hours causing criminal damage and looking to smash in the next JD Sport shop window for those must-have trainers.
Rioting is not normal and I certainly don’t want it to become a way of life in the UK.
The fight back has begun.
By Sandy Samra
Last month DJ GSP wowed the crowd at Fire in Vauxhall. He is now back again this month to give his new fans another dose of uplifting house music!
I absolutely love your sound. How did you get into House music?
I started dj-ing when I was still a kid at home. I experimented by mixing various genres of music. House music won me over because it can be very simple to really complicated, something that makes it so unique.
Is there anyone who influences you? Who? Why?
What influences me the most is anyone that goes out clubbing. What I see on the dancefloor is what inspires me for the next track I’ll mix. This means that not only new tracks have to be played, but what will make the crowd go crazy. Of course I have some favourite DJs and producers who’s sound influences me, but they come second.
Is there anywhere you haven’t played yet that you would love to?
Ibiza. It’s a dream that hasn’t come true yet, but hopefully will!
During the last Bank Holiday you were The Special Guest DJ at Sylvia Rebel’s GRAVITY at Fire in Vauxhall. Now you’re playing there again. How does that feel?
It was a big step for me. I was so excited but also so nervous. I have received so much support by my friends and the London clubbers that I couldn’t have achieved anything without them. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
You’re from Greece and DJ there, what is it about the party crowd in London that keeps you wanting to come back?
The party crowd in London can receive and appreciate what I give them and that makes me become better and better. My job is not only to play music on some decks, but inspire people to dance and have a great time.
Gravity @ Fire
You can check out all the latest podcasts from DJ GSP at http://djgsp.podomatic.com and catch him live at Gravity @ Fire in London on Thursday 26th May AND Thursday 2nd June.
South Lambeth Road,
By Matt Fricker
A predicted 50,000 students took to the streets of London yesterday to campaign against the proposed cuts to university funding and rise in tuition fees.
As a former university student, I can look at the level of teaching I received and the amount of student debt I have and can safely say that if I were still a student I’d have been protesting in full voice yesterday.
So when I was invited by some of my old University friends to observe yesterdays “Demo Lition” protest, I expected a far different experience to the one I had.
Before the march I expected to see a scene similar to the time I took part in a student protest against the proposed introduction of top-up fees (jolly students in party atmosphere a bit annoyed but acceptant that the economy is in a dreadful state and, financially, life is not easy for any of us)
What I instead saw was a far angrier congregation. As the students waited outside the Ministry Of Defence for the march to start, they listened to the pre-march rally which took place and cheered as phrases were spouted from the peaceful, “No ifs, No buts, No education cuts” to the slightly less peaceful, “the class war has returned”.
The march began in a traditional, peaceful way, with students using signs and their voices to get their point across, and there were some brilliant signs too, ranging from the politically disappointed “I agreed with Nick” signs to the humorous (one student’s cardboard sign merely read, “I’m already too poor, look at my budget sign!”)
As the protest progressed and the students marched down Whitehall, there was the usual mixture of chanting, booing as the crowds passed Downing Street, the odd sit-down protest, and occasionally, some wally jumping on top of a bus stop to wave at the crowd with a placard in hand.
By this point (about 2pm) the seemingly peaceful protest was cold, slow moving (we discovered that we had got stuck behind a sit down protest for an hour) and generally seemed to be just another traditional student protest.
Then the phone calls started coming in.
Word spread that some fires had been set off and part of the protest had been hijacked by groups’ intent on causing trouble.
These ‘protesters’ had chosen to storm Millbank Tower.
As my friends and I stood by the roundabout next to Lambeth Bridge trying to find the rest of the students from our university I witnessed a sight that I’ve only ever seen on TV before.
A small army of police officers (about 30) marched past where we stood on their way to Millbank Tower, alongside these officers was an idiot who thought it entertaining to march alongside them and give a Nazi salute to the watching crowd to show his discontent towards the police.
The shocking sight wasn’t the small army of police though, it was the 200 + protesters chasing behind them like schoolchildren running to observe a playground fight.
Eventually, we came to the realisation that, as students from our group may also be at Millbank Tower, we had to go and make sure they were safe. So we progressed down the street and watched as the crowds once again grew to a mass congregation. Only this time, the scene resembled something out of a movie.
For no apparent reason, a drum and bass gig had started outside Millbank Tower, a party atmosphere was seen for a space of about 20 square feet, just to the right of this impromptu ‘gig’ however was a banner which had been hung to a banister and read “SMASH TAX-DODGING TORY SCUM (NOT EDUCATION)” as we witnessed protesters storming their way into Millbank Tower.
As signs and banners were set on fire and great cheers were heard at the sight of thugs smashing through windows, the sad realisation dawned on my friends and I that, for 50,000 student protesters, their politically motivated stand had been ruined. The story was no longer the protests, it was the violence.
I spoke with protesters and the opinion towards the day was mixed, while they all condemned the violence that took place some actually questioned if violence could be the answer to making politicians change their minds, while others predicted that the events of Wednesday will just be the start of nationwide protests which will inevitably end in the same fashion time after time.
By Matt Fricker
Apostrophe, the boulangerie patisserie group have teamed up with Gallic Books to host a competition in celebration of the paperback launch of‘ The Gourmet; Muriel Barbery’s international bestseller about the torment of France’s greatest food critic on his death bed, as he tries to recall the greatest food he has ever tasted.
Competition entrants have been asked to submit their real life gourmet experience for the chance to win a luxury weekend for two in London consisting of a one night stay in a deluxe room at the Lancaster London hotel, a pair of tickets to see The 39 Steps at The Criterion in the West End, dinner for two at Pan-Asian restaurant Inamo in Soho and breakfast for two at Apostrophe.
Two runners up will receive hampers filled with products from Apostrophe. The winners will also have their stories published on the Apostrophe website, making this a great opportunity for all you budding writers out there.
Entrants to this competition have been asked to submit, in no more than 500 words, a real life gourmet experience of their own to email@example.com Alternatively, entrants can post their entry to Apostrophe’s Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/apostropheuk by July 2.
Full competition details can be found at www.apostropheuk.com/apostropheandthegourmet/
By Matt Fricker
Wednesday 16 June saw the official re-launch of Lonsdale, the venue, located right in the heart of Notting Hill aims to establish itself as one of the premier venues in London for food and drink.
Featuring a luxurious design of vibrant shades (not to mention a bevy of beautiful ladies as well) Lonsdale oozed confidence as it welcomed guests from all backgrounds through its doors for the event I attended.
The menu featured an exquisite selection of cocktails and wine from across the globe at very affordable prices, as well as a nice selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Lonsdale also boasted a wide mix of food, including canapés and a three course set menu at the reasonable price of £18.50.
But where Lonsdale really shines for me was with its service, as the staff were not only very friendly but they were also incredibly knowledgeable when it came to the make up, design and taste of their products, which is sadly somewhat of a rarity in bars today.
Although Lonsdale has just re-launched as a venue I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see its name crop up in the hot list columns in the very near future.
For more information about Lonsdale you can contact the venue on 020 7727 4080 or visit www.thelonsdale.co.uk
By Matt Fricker
Football is a funny old game, some have tried to explain it as similar to a religion, with your church (club) being a place you visit once a week and so on.
For some, football is just a game, for others it’s something you can get a bit worked up about every once in a while.
But for others, football is more than that, much more than a religion, it’s a key aspect of life.
In some ways, football is actually like a drug.
I grew up in Charlton, in Charlton there’s a football club, and not much else.
I started going to Charlton games with my father and younger brother regularly in 1995. Since then we’ve missed maybe ten home games between us.
One of my childhood dreams was to play for Charlton, even now I would give everything I have in the world up to play for my club. Even though I know that I’m useless at football.
Something that can’t be explained is why this affinity for football exists quite so strongly in so many.
The best way to explain it would be to compare the sport to music, film or another art, something that can really rip away at your emotions and bring you to the greatest high, or the lowest low.
But even that description is rather weak.
On Monday night, I joined over 20,000 other Charlton fans at The Valley to watch the mighty Addicks attempt to turn over a one goal deficit against Swindon Town and progress to the League One play off final.
Charlton won the game after ninety minutes, but as this meant the game was a draw on aggregate, extra time and a penalty shoot out was required and sadly, Charlton lost the game on penalties.
So you move on, it’s only a game after all.
You can say it as much as you want but for many football fans, it’s not that easy.
The knowledge that football as a sport is financially in great trouble doesn’t help, having seen what’s happened to clubs such as Portsmouth, Luton Town and Chester City strike all football fans with fear that their club could be next to fight for its existence.
An existence which, for all football clubs mean roughly a hundred (or more) years of history, where generation after generation have fallen in love and had their heart torn to shreds by their football club.
My fear is that, as a result of loosing on Monday, Charlton may have to sell their best players and may once again struggle to survive in the league they play in. (an occurrence which saw Charlton relegated from the Premier League in 2007 and the Championship in 2009)
I’m not alone in my fears for Charlton Athletic, but these concerns aren’t unique to my club either.
If you talk to any football fan, they will be able to reveal similar concerns about their own club, whether their club are Manchester United or Macclesfield Town.
Football is a universal game, a way of life for many who are far more passionate about the game than me, and with one kick of a ball, you can cry with joy, or see your dreams fall to shreds.
But now, the football season has finished for fans like me, and our passion turns to our respective countries and the World Cup.
In a few weeks, London, along with most major cities around the World will be transformed into a hub of great national pride for countries competing in the Football World Cup in a sight which will disprove the theory that football is only a game.
By Matt Fricker
I know what you’re thinking; I thought the same thing when it was pitched to me.
Polo, that’s the game where people take mallets, get on horseback and hit a ball, like hockey on ponies.
Being a sporty kind of guy from South East London I didn’t imagine polo was really suitable for someone like me, I’ve never ridden a pony before (unless you count being walked around on one as a child at Centre Parcs) and the only information that I had ever gathered about Polo suggested it was a sport reserved for those who could afford it.
I remember a very old saying, polo the sport is for the rich, polo the mint is for everyone else.
That said, I love the opportunity to try new things, so when I was invited to an afternoon Polo lesson at Hurlingham Park in association with Polo In The Park. I jumped at the chance.
What I found was a fascinating experience, one which actually stripped away many of my pre conceived thoughts towards the sport as well.
As I sat at the table with the rest of the attendees to this free session (which you’re able to sign up to, for free, via the facebook group here) I learnt how polo is in fact thousands of years old, and the modern variation of the game was developed by a couple of British soldiers a few hundred years ago.
I also learnt the basic rules of the game within twenty minutes and before I knew it, I found myself standing on a milk crate learning how to hit a ball with a polo mallet.
If that didn’t seem like enough of a breakneck speed for the session to progress at I was then put on the back of a pony and taught to steer very quickly before setting off in my debut game of polo.
Now aspects of this don’t sound unusual; in football for example you teach the basic rules, define who’s on which side then say play, much like with rugby, hockey and all other major sports.
But I have to admit I was rather nervous when it came to Polo, firstly because my main concern was simple; How do you ensure that you don’t hurt the pony?
I’m still not sure of the answer, but during a quick riding lesson where we were taught how to turn the pony and how to gallop I realised the pony I was using didn’t want to move quickly at all, so we took it gently and enjoyed the experience.
As the session came to a close, I assimilated the information gathered in the hour and a half I had spent there.
I had been fortunate enough to have had my eyes opened to a brand a new sport. (One that I was naturally quite useless at)
These Polo sessions are being run as part of the build up to the main Polo In The Park event, which will see Hurlingham Park in South West London converted into a 32,000 seater stadium over the weekend of June 4, for an event that will see the world of Polo host their equivalent to the football World Cup.
Further details about Polo In The Park can be found at www.polointheparklondon.com
By Matt Fricker
When I think of London I think about home, born and raised in Greenwich I had the pleasure of a London education, from supporting Charlton Athletic to being raised next door to the Thames Barrier and Woolwich Arsenal.
They may sound like insignificant names, but they opened my eyes to a diverse history that this beautiful city has bursting out of it.
As a child in Greenwich I was also able to learn about the history of the Cutty Sark, as well as travel on the DLR when it first opened.
It is these seemingly un-important events, along with several trips to many of London’s wonderful theatres, museums, art galleries and parks that helped to shape my education of British and world history and turned me into the adult that I am today.
London is the greatest city in the world, although I would argue it’s not because of the Houses of Parliament, or Buckingham Palace, but because of the truly beautiful architecture that surrounds the city and the diverse backgrounds that create the London society.
My favourite view of London can be found on the middle of Waterloo Bridge, looking out across the Thames, and viewing the stunning design of the City, a sight which I find breathtaking regardless of the weather.
London is also one of the most innovative cities in the world when it comes to culture, a fact the creative industries remind us of every day as we turn on the Radio or TV to discover which Hollywood star is filming their latest movie in the city or which major band is performing at one of our many venues.
If that wasn’t enough, every year London offers a platform to some of the most passionate people in the world, from hosting charitable events such as the incredible London Marathon right through to giving passionate groups the opportunity to protest on behalf of causing ranging from Top- up Fees to the Iraq War.
I grew up and live in London and I can’t think of another city in the world that has more to offer than our capital, so I ask readers of The Collective Review, what are you favourite parts of this great capital city of ours?
By Shabana Adam
How many of you have watched a runway fashion show and thought, will anyone actually wear that? I do it all the time. 2010 has, so far, given a new and extreme meaning to over the top fashion. We’ve all seen them on the catwalk this year. Designer’s choosing to use lace, cut-outs, slits, mesh, leather, and peculiar bits and pieces placed wherever there seems to be room. These bizzare-looking designs are flaunted at fashion week in Milan , New York, Paris and London to name a few, yet most of them look like they couldn’t possibly be comfortable for more than a few minutes.
I know we’ve just seen a number 2010 Autumn/Winter designs, but the fashion line that prompted me to write this post is by the designer who inspired many of Lady Gaga’s strange ensembles – Ara Jo. Her 2010 Spring/Summer line was based on the mermaid theme. If like me you expected flowy, colourful, ultra-feminine garments, because of the mermaid concept, then you’ll be surprised. These designs will burst your bubble of imagination that you previously had about mermaids. Yes there’s colour – but with the way some of these dresses are cut and the amount of flesh on show, I think it’s safe to say that you can’t see ordinary folk parading the streets in this eccentric, to say the least, dress (or whatever you want to call it).
I understand that some fashion designers look at fashion as an art form and like to push boundaries, but seriously, is this look ever going to be commercially plausible? I think not. A number of fashion designers produce couture wear strictly for celebrities, while the fashionistas amongst us are left to talk about them in shock (just like I am). Is this a way of getting us interested in their work with the hope of selling the more mundane end of their collections to us? Most probably yes.
You have to admit, apart from Lady Gaga (who has been draped in every material available in the fabric store), there is no other person on the planet who could pull off this look on an ordinary day. With that said, Ara Jo definitely has an odd and unique talent – it’s just not my cup of tea!
By Yvonne Lamunu
Established back in 2000, the East End Film Festival is fast becoming one of the most prominent film festivals in London. With over 200 films it hosts a variety of impressive premieres and events to satisfy any film junkie ranging from, poetry discussions, art documentaries and silent cinema. Whether it’s St Anne’s Church or The Barbican venues all over the east end will be hosting a wealth of new young British film directing talent through special screenings and independent film releases. From the 22nd to the 30th April dedicated cinema goers will be able to catch the best in new British cinema. Read more »