Reading the Riot Act in the Daily Telegraph

So London’s burning. Parliament is recalled. A football international is cancelled. You would think that Regent Street was in flames, the House of Commons about to be sacked and a horde of hoodie wearing hoods lined up about to torch the Palace and to pillage any decent lookin wenches they may find therein.

Yet and still the Metropolitan Polis take their time to don their riot gear. I suppose here in the North we are used seeing skulls cracked at the slightest sign of a riot, maybe a plastic bullet or two launched at an unsuspecting teenager and watercannon hosing people off their feet. It is an unusual level of restraint by the Met. Maybe since they were embroiled in the News of the World imbroglio, they are more circumspect. That would be a first.

It would be so un-British and definitely not beffitting of and English gentleman like Cameron and his Clegg to send in the troops to blow the rioters off track. It’s one thing thumping a few Paddies on the head in far off Belfast. A different thing doing it in London.

There’s something about us people over here that means we deserve a good craic on the nut every so often, just to make us lie down. However it is a different proposition taking an almighty dump on your own doorstep with the world’s media watching and the Olympics a year off.

It confirms what we have long known that although we are apparently all ‘British’ under the one flag, in fact there are different rules for bored teenagers in London and  Londonderry.

Tell me this, what happens next year if the whole thing kicks off once again when the full glare of the Olympic spotlight is on London?

PrayForLondon was trending on Twitter, people organised Twitter feeds to arrange the clean up. It’s all terribly civilised and good natured, Dunkirkesque even.

An English Rugby fan asked me once in Donoghue’s in Baggot Street as we skulled pints of Guinness:

‘Why does no-one like us?’

My reply was ‘how long have you got?’

That perhaps explains why people on this side of the pond are watching with a mixture of disinterest and faint bemusement. The profile of the people charged with looting and public disorder was published in the Daily Telegraph with all the relish of the landed gentry holding aloft a pair of dirty socks.

A soldier steals a guitar worth £2000 and tries to sell it the next day. A Law student is caught in possession of £5000 of stolen electronics. Some other fella gets 12 months in two lots of six because he looted two different shops.

What possessed these people. The herd mentality? The lowest common denominator? Greed? The feeling they wouldn’t get caught. An orderly line in a shoe shop to try on looted shoes. Are these the demons that lie inside everyone, dormant waiting the chance to burst out? These weren’t the disaffected youth of the newspapers. It reminds me of student days and wanton acts of stupidity.

Pray for London. Indeed.

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