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London burning and retreating

August 9, 2011

I spoke to a man today who had watched his family business burn down.  He looked shell-shocked, exhausted and empty.Too worn out to even feel angry at the idiots who torched the store he and his brother had carefully tended all their adult lives.

I recognised the look. I can’t believe I saw it in south London. The city I live in _ chosen as a refuge for people fleeing their lives elsewhere _ has a different feel. The riots, the burning buildings and gutted cars are bad enough. But the talk of curfews, and the awful sound of shops pre-emptively rolling their shutters down in the middle of the afternoon, are chilling.  They are the sounds of a city retreating, losing its nerve and surrendering to mobs. I don’t want to live in a place like that.





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