Monday, 8 August 2011

Why I Love Brixton - The Morning After the Night Before

Brixton is a place of great beauty, from the vibrancy of the music that runs through the streets, to the elegant architecture, to the tolerant and easy-going people you come across. I have loved living here for almost 5 years, and I don't expect that to change.

I feel very safe in Brixton. Granted, there are occasional 'altercations', but these happen in many London boroughs and are often the consequence of so many people living so closely together with an underlying gang question that most capital cities have to manage. And most Brixton residents I know feel very positive and happy about their surroundings.

So it is an odd thought to consider that many of them, like me, were confused by how persistent the low-flying helicopter was last night, and turned to Twitter to see what was going on in the absence of any news through the BBC. So many people trying to get a good night's sleep before a Monday morning at work after a summer weekend, distracted from sleep as they were captured by the online telling of chaos happening only a few metres away.

I appreciate that there has been tension in Tottenham, but how that equates to midnight mobs stealing tvs, phones and trainers in Brixton I don't know. And there are bigger questions about the economic situation and how that drives people to protest through rioting to get attention. But for me the BIGGEST question is one of values ... how can we champion and nurture a society which thrives on the value of a cohesive and peaceful community, rather than the violent acquisition of more stuff? How can you teach people that social harmony is worth more than an HD ready flatscreen giant tv.

Mr Cameron, society must be more than big, it must be empowered, positive and above all it must have hope.

My husband Charlie took a detour to see some of the damage north of the Tube station this morning, and he said it was a chaotic sight, with police struggling to keep pedestrians away and the massive demands on their police tape supplies as they blocked up shop fronts. Shop stock litters the streets, and the damage will take some time to clear up. Felt even sadder to hear that our local Game Station, and even Barnardos Charity Shop, are damaged. I presume some of the high street name shops caught up in it may choose to leave.

But I hope fellow indignant Brixton residents will agree that this is only a minor setback which is now over, and that Brixton will soon be as it always was. In fact I have just heard from my parents on their journey to Acre Lane Tesco that the market is happily up and running, with music filling the air as if none of this had taken place.

And I am sure so many of us wish it hadn't, because we love Brixton.

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