The other day I was sitting listening to Jazz FM. With the radiator behind me, my slippers, my cardigan and a glass of Chivaz Regal I was cosy and relaxed. Then I started to think about the Riots of 2011.
Do you remember the UK riots? It may have only made the news in the UK.
For about a week the nation was gripped as thousands of youths went on a rampage throughout the UK’s largest cities. Shops were being smashed up, goods were being stolen, cars set on fire and people being attacked and mugged by this unacceptable foul behaviour. (At this point I would like to point out that not only am I miserable like a middle aged man, my lifestyle as portrayed above is that of a middle aged man and the way I phrased that last sentence is that of a middle aged man. In fact, I might just go and write a letter to my local MP after this!)
The nation watched as businesses were smashed up and people lived in fear. There weren’t enough police to deal with it all. These gangs realised that if they rose up in unison, they would be too much to handle. The Police would create a blockade and try to retain the thugs to an area. Within that area they would just run havoc. The Police just had to watch.
It even occurred not far from where Grumpy Towers is located. In the town of West Bromwich there was a riot kicking off. I heard that the riot actually caused approximately £250,000.00 worth of improvements.
There was even talk of the Miami of the Midlands being under threat. Yes, Dudley. Mrs Grump wasn’t standing for that. Reaching for her cache of dangerous weapons and the baseball bat with a nail through it she said that anyone coming near this house could think again. Mrs Grump was no longer Mrs Grump. Mrs Grump had become Xena Warrior Princess!!
Although, I was pretty sure the Rioters wouldn’t come anywhere near Grumpy Towers. Besides, many of them probably live just around the corner from us and it’s well known that you don’t shit where you eat. Although I will say, with Mrs Grump ready to kick off, it’s just as well those annoying people from Scottish Power didn’t come knocking to see if we wanted to change our energy supplier.
At the time, I was working on the outskirts of Birmingham City Centre. Sure enough there had been rioting and shops had been smashed up. More mindless vandalism was occurring for a second night and was looking likely to occur again for a third.
In the office there was a growing concern. You see being just out of the City Centre meant that many of us had to walk right through where it was kicking off to get to our trains or buses. So understandably, we were wondering if we had to walk through where the trouble was and in doing so, were we likely to get jumped, mugged and beaten by the worst examples of what a shallow gene pool could produce.
A colleague was following a live feed page on line dedicated to updating the people of Birmingham of what was occurring across the city. It was a kind of “Riot Watch Live.”
This would give the most up to date information of what was going on such as:
“Pret a manger has been attacked and there are no more almond croissants left.”
“Sports Soccer has been targeted by large numbers of rioters. Track suits and trainers have been the main items stolen.”
“Reports of over 200 youths gathering in numbers making their way towards the Bullring Shopping Centre.”
“Primark is open as usual.”
So this was the sort of thing we were reading. But then we read, “Reports that a large number of young males are shouting abuse and acting aggressively in Victoria Square.” That was not far from where we worked! Many of us had to walk through Victoria Square to get home! What were we going to do?
There was some unrest in the office until it was decided that we would find strength in numbers. Thing was, I finished at 5.30. Everyone else finished at 5! Great, I was going to walk into the eye of the riot storm, alone!
It sounded too dicey even for a double hard bastard like me! 10 or 20 opponents I could probably handle. 200 might be pushing it a bit.
I managed to convince my manager to let me go early so that I too could go with the group and if it did kick off, protect my fellow colleagues. Specifically, the women.
At 5pm, we gathered at the front door. A dozen of us finding comfort in the support of each other. What a wonderful example this was of going beyond the sometimes cold acquaintance we have with our colleagues. So keen we can be to keep them at arms length and not really show any signs of wanting to know anything about them or any glint of caring for them. But now, now we stood side by side. Uniform. Together. As one. We would find solace and peace of mind knowing that we were not alone on these terrorized streets of Birmingham. We had made ourselves a harder target by becoming a bigger force to reckon with.
We ventured together with trepidation and apprehension as our eyes darted in all directions to search for any signs of danger. As we heard a siren in the distance, we wondered what might befall us when we finally reach the battle zone of Victoria Square. What violent horrors we might bear witness to. Would we, this evening, be under threat? Would we have to fight for our own survival or at the very least, for our man bags containing our empty lunch boxes, and slightly bruised fruit?
It didn’t take long until we had reached Victoria Square.
Sure enough, there was a gang.
It was us.
A dozen, nervous looking, insurance claim handlers. The most violent thing we had between us was a novelty tie with a Tasmanian devil on it.
We found out that the “Riot Watch Live” website wasn’t to be trusted. But Primark was open as usual.