goodbye blackberry way

montage by ib.

While the bleachers blistered through July into the beginning of August, it was never going to get hot enough to legitimately demand intensive care. The contrast of just a few degrees makes all the difference. I largely avoided commentary on the London riots because, in common with most of those people who immediately started banging on the pots and pans as luncheon vochers spontaneously smouldered – erupting in flames from one borough to the next – my perspective on it seemed indelibly coloured by what I watched on TV. As close to \’live\’ as it gets. From the comfort of my greasy spot on the carpet. In short, I was not actually at the game; I had little enough foresight to even book a seat. The temptation was there from the outset to lay claims that those tensions ignited by the shooting of a twenty-nine-year-old man in Tottenham were somehow inevitable. Darcus Howe, a shade hysterically, played the disaffected race card as invited by the BBC in the televised autopsy which (inevitably) ensued, but his exaggerated wielding of a scalpel – to seek to draw parallels with events in 1985 – seemed ill-advised and hopelessly out of touch. Neither did he seem in possession of incontrovertible material facts. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police no doubt sparked unrest; the wholesale rioting which followed directly on its heels was wholly cynical and opportunistic. Engineered by a welter of Fagins on Blackberry phones. A closed network choreographing its own closed network of very damaged children.

It is ironic that the very device which proved so effective in galvanizing support in the election campaign which would return the world\’s first black president – Obama might have lost the race to the Whitehouse if not for his Blackberry – should, three years later, play a key role in such meticulously orchestrated looting and civil disorder. Adopted by every Artful Dodger seeking to grab a slice of pie before the authorities fell out of bed. The last gang in town. It is not remotely credible to attempt to politicize events, none of which have even spurious parallels with civil unrest as reported elsewhere in the world. Greece. Syria. It has nothing to do with the overturning of an inalienably corrupt regime; it has little to do with the post-apocalyptic living death of capitalism. Unless one digs deep beneath the rubble. There was no targeting of government collateral, here. No attempt to besiege fiscal infrastructures, beyond the occasional corner shop ATM. Plain and simple, those London riots in 2011 were nothing more than an unexpurgated shopping spree: the sociopathic desire to line the pockets of a purloined pair of Georgio Armani slacks.

Should a mother and her children accidentally burn to death in the process, should local businesses fail, it is of no consequence. Like hooded rats, the tide of lobotomized youth simply out-pedals the screams; returning home to their lairs by bike to deposit the spoils. Mick Farren made an enlightened stab at it, but got it only partly right:

\”A tribe of Sids Vicious without a Joe Strummer among them.\”

John Simon Ritchie might have been empty as a hole without a Lydon or McLaren, but Strummer, too, had his Simonon and Rhodes. Uncle Bernie. There are a million Sids in tens of thousands of decrepit council estates – from East London to Merseyside, Wolverhampton to Easterhouse – but the element of iconic nihilism lacks hard currency. This isn\’t a youth movement. It\’s genocide in the waiting.

Consumerism in extremis, a plague of locusts operating with impunity. In this era of bland conformity, hive mentality, the events of last week are nothing more than England\’s \’Trumpton Riots\’; as superficial and lacking in substance as any cretin mugging his way vacuously into this year\’s final of the X-Factor.

An audition. An experiment in CCTV containment.

Flummoxed ?

Don\’t be. In the final analysis, this is England\’s just reward. No future. No vision. No hope for evacuation.

Police and Thieves, with scarcely a unform in sight.

London may have burned for three and a half minutes, but the object of its charring was not a tinderbox of parliamentary misrule, so much as a sofa on Reeves Corner, Croydon. Too unwieldy – or just plain ugly – to stash in the back of a ringed white van.


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