Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Spirit of the Blitz? Reclaim the streets!

I don't watch a lot of TV, but the other night sat through an entire hour of Anita Dobson (Angie in "EastEnders") talking about how people were entertained on the Home Front during the Second World War ("Ration Book Britain: Entertaining the Home Front"). As well as getting to see Anita jitterbug - not a young woman, she's a real advertisement for keeping fit and fun-loving - I learned that people flocked in greater numbers than ever to the cinema, in spite of the risk of getting bombed.

I don't want to over-do the comparisons, but there are some with how we behave in the current climate. This evening I went to Angel for something to eat on the way home from a meeting. It was locked down; the streets were almost deserted. At each important junction, a pair of police officers were mounted on sentry duty looking for malefactors.

Instead of bars and restaurants full of people on a warm evening, behind the blinds of their flats, yuppy fear was palpable.

I do think we should be on our guard against potential trouble, but I don't think we should hide away. Whole communities don't have that luxury, in any case. One of my friends lives on the Pembury Estate in Hackney. Last night she and her family hunkered down in their own home while a pitched battle raged outside; today they have to go out and shop, go to work, share tales with their neighbours.

Things are bad, but it's not the Blitz! Reclaim the streets.

P.S. I understand there was a disturbance in Burnt Oak this evening. I'll try to find out more. For once I had decided to come back to Colindale tube station.

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