I Will Build An Ark – part 1
It never really gets dark within the M25. You don’t even get to see any stars on the clearest nights; the glow of street lighting forms a perfect umbra.
As the afternoon progressed Michael followed events on the pub TV: fighting in North London, looting and police lines. He wasn’t sure when the news readers started spreading the violence again, when the violence became rioting.
Finally, the sirens called him outside, Clapham was beginning its own revelry. People everywhere, shouting and laughing, shop fronts beaten in, the hustle of late night ‘shopping’. He recognised some of the looters, they nodded acknowledgement to him beneath their hoods, he nodded back.
Then the police marched in from way up the road. The locals turned towards the police line at the other end. More anger, and the throwing begins: anything small enough to chuck starts raining at one of the police lines. More broken windows, smashed in doors, escape routes being found.
Up towards the Junction the trains are passing oblivious to the wailing shop alarms, the growing panic and fear, escalating aggression. Michael takes out his mobile to video the scene but it’s hammered out of his hand and he’s shoved into street railings, badly winded. A rich Barbadian accent asks him if he’s alright from behind a boxed forty-inch TV.
His carer kicks the damaged mobile back, ‘Ya betta getta new’un quick bafor they all go, man.’
Michael backs into a doorway. He glances along the road, both ways, and the scarpering “rats” are now quite sparse, being picked off easily. Those caught have plastic ties around their wrists and are being lined up for the vans to take them off for processing.
‘You nick anything son?’
Michael looks into the eyes of a rather tall policewoman. Nervously he smiles and shakes his head.
‘So what you doin’ here then sunshine?’
And he’s stumped.
‘I’m, just, watching…’ It couldn’t have sounded more lame. She steps closer and puts her face up to his.
‘Better piss off home then.’ So he does.
At home he turns the TV on and sees the endless footage of the burning carpet shop, and similar film from the usual London areas and some unexpected ones too. He takes the SIM card out of his mobile and places it into his old model, it still works once it’s charged. Numerous texts come flying in: his family concerned, work colleagues too. Even one from his boss. Missed a couple of calls too.
After his mother he texts his boss back:
Looks like busyer Aug
Tony had warned him that the summer holidays always put them under pressure; ‘there are only so many of us, resources are tight, no allowing for the bloody demand at the best of times’. The mobile beeps, Tony:
‘U Rnt wrong’.