Posts Tagged 'Britain'

What kind of person takes part in a riot?

 

I live in a world filled with bowls of pasta, cups of tea, and Aaron cardigans.  I live a sheltered life in a town where very little happens.  On Sunday night I stayed awake all night, until 5.00 am, glued to Twitter, reading with horror about London being destroyed.  I have a deep love of London, of the places, street names, buildings, and the people.  Seeing the photographs of a very particular type of person setting it alight gave me a lurch in the stomach, and made me feel intensely sick.

Tonight, after following the events solely on Twitter, I turned on the news, and, as much as I hate clichés, my mouth fell open, and I almost cried.  Seeing the destruction and brainless violence, by people who won’t even show their face, brings me to tears.  How inhuman and de-socialised do you have to be, how intensely do you have to feel separate to the country you live in, to want to destroy it?

I’ve grown up in England, and feel it in my bones.  As furious and disenchanted as I am sometimes with the Government and the way the country’s run, I never feel separate to Britain; I feel part of something very special.  As an Englishman I feel part of a nation that once ruled an empire spanning most of the world, in spite of the fact that we’re a very small island.  In Britain we have something very, very noble and special, and only people who have come from outside and don’t feel part of it could ever want to hurt it.

The fact that a man was killed by the police (a man who pulled his gun out first) may have ignited the first fire, but the brainless vigilantes who are sucking everything they can find out of every shop, and burning every building they come across, are not looting in the name of Mark Duggan.

Living in quiet, middle-class England, I understand that the Police have shortcomings, and are often guilty of corruption, but on a basic level they’re there to protect us.  If I’m in trouble; if someone breaks into my house, or I’m attacked on the way home, I ring the Police, and they come.  If I ring them then shortly after, they come and fix my problem.  With a few exceptions, they are good men and women. Policemen do a job passionately, and they are a strong force to stand up for people who follow the law.  I wish desperately that I could make the young people in London who feel so outrageously indignant about Police brutality realise that you only get shot by Police if you shoot them first, or put yourself in a position where they point their guns at you.  People who work hard, follow the law, and lead normal, quiet lives, will never face the barrel of a Police gun, or any gun.  Mark Duggan died because of the life he lead.

Any sympathy that might have been afforded to these people, any respect, or consideration, has been wiped out in fire.  No-one will ever take them seriously again, and they’ve sealed the same fate for everyone else.  When the students protested back in December, I felt so strongly that it would have been far more effective, instead of rioting and causing violence, to sit in the road outside Westminster, and outside the party offices, in complete silence, to stop traffic.  Imagine if the politicians had to step over thousands of silent, staring faces, who wouldn’t move.  How much more dramatic and powerful would that have been?

Violence is one of those things in life which is totally counter-productive, and does the opposite of what you want it to.

The people destroying London are not British, and are not human.  British people would never destroy any city, let alone London, and I hope that doesn’t make me sound racist, but we love London.

One Less Tree Each Day From Our Window

 

When I was about eight, my Primary School had the wonderful idea that every child would plant a young sapling around the edge of the playground and playing fields.  It was beautiful.  Each child felt a parental bond to their own tree, and would visit it and felt some small sense of looking after it.  Very quickly, the older boys found amusement in kicking the saplings, which were still fragile, scraping off the bark, snapping the branches off, anything they could find to be destructive.  In response, myself and my friend formed Tree Watch.  With the permission and support of one teacher, every playtime and lunch hour, we would patrol the field, protecting and guarding the trees, repairing any broken branches with splints in the hope they would heal, and ensuring no damage was done during the time that everybody was outside.  We made posters and invented slogans, trying to make the other pupils feel the same passion for protecting the trees that we did.  Of-course, some people laughed, but on the whole it was very successful and the trees are still there today, seventeen years later.

Over the past couple of weeks, the golf-course which backs on to my house has felled two-hundred healthy trees from around the edge of the course.  The reason?  They were blocking light on the greens, which interfered with the golfer’s shots.  The trees, which were all fairly young and not thickly populated, are now almost all gone, leaving ugly, scarred land; bare and covered in sawdust.

Towards the end of last year, the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, revealed the Government’s intention to dispose of half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland run by the Forestry Commission by 2020.  The plan to sell off our forests was planned to generate £100m, and the Government planned a complete overhaul of the Forestry Commission in its review of quangos.

However, this week David Cameron has admitted that he doesn’t like the plan after all.  Ed Milliband asked the Prime Minister, in the Commons, whether he was happy with the plan to sell off the forests.  To laughter, the prime minister replied: ‘The short answer to that is, no.’  He then indicated that the Government would make a U-Turn and back away from the plan.

No doubt referring to the national outrage and remonstration to the idea of losing the nation’s forests, Cameron said;

‘We’ve had a range of interesting responses to this consultation. What is important is that we should be making sure that, whatever happens, we increase access to our forests, we increase biodiversity and we don’t make the mistake that was made under the last government where they sold forests with no access rights at all.’

Perhaps what the Prime Minister is trying to say, using the phrase ‘increase access to our forests’, is that if they’re sold, what will happen to all the people who enjoy Sunday afternoons walking or bike-riding through the forests, or taking their children to play hide-and-seek through the trees?  The forests are our national nature reserves, in the way that Africa has its national parks and Serengeti, America has Yellowstone, Yosemite, and The Rockies.  Our forests are our nature, our natural beauty, all we have.

 

Milliband, valiantly expressing the feeling of the Briton on the street, railed during prime minister’s questions; ‘Even he must appreciate the irony. The guy who made the tree the symbol of the Conservative party flogging them off round this country. He says they are consulting on this policy. They are actually consulting on how to flog off the forests, not whether to sell off the forests. Is the prime minister now saying that he might drop the policy completely?’

After a few feeble attempts at a response from Cameron, which basically amounted to trying to wriggle out of answering on a discourse technicality, Milliband continued;

‘Everybody knows you have to drop this ludicrous policy. Let me give him the chance to do it. Nobody voted for this policy; 500,000 people have signed a petition against the policy. Why doesn’t he, when he gets up at the dispatch box, not say he is postponing the sale but say he is cancelling it?’

The response was a typically Tory attempt at sneering humour; ‘Once again, he read the question before he listened to the answer. I think the bandwagon has just hit a bit of a tree’, totally lacking any sensitivity to the nation’s deep-set emotional involvement in the issue.

 

If our trees continue to be ripped down, a few at a time, from roadsides, golf-courses and parks, and building of new houses and office-blocks continues at the rapid rate it is, what will Britain look like?  What will happen to Arcadia?  Where will be the green, the orange and gold of Autumn, the birds and squirrels to irritate us, the tree-houses in back gardens for a whole generation of children who won’t know how to scrump apples or climb trees?

If we aren’t that bothered by two trees here, four trees there, a few new houses, a bit less grass, here and there, slowly creeping down every street, in every town, how long will it be before it’s all gone? Not long! Do humans honestly believe we can carry on and never reach the end?  Can we continue flattening Brazilian rainforests and English copses, and never come to the end of them?

If we look out of our window each day and see one less tree and one more building, how many days are left before all we can see is grey?

 


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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