This week has been a strange old week – not just in London, but across England the rioting has dominated every conversation and even most of the tweets in the HTC timeline. So as you will have noticed, we’ve dedicated the blog this week to thoughts and views of these happenings.
On Monday night, we heard that our fantastic producers and filmakers Jellyfielders were placed right at the heart of one of the worst hit areas. Here Chris (@geektothechic) from Jellyfielders Studios gives his eye-witness account of what he saw.
I can only describe it as something out of a zombie movie. Hordes of people everywhere, shouting, screaming and laying waste to everything in their path. Feverishly grabbing at handfuls of stolen goods as though it were human flesh. I’ll admit that at this point, the fear really started to kick in. It was pure chaos, the police were outnumbered as the streets were overrun and without sounding over-dramatic, it felt like the end of the world. Fires started to be break out on the ground, law enforcement powerless. It was anarchy. That’s when a thought ran through my head that stopped me cold in my tracks: they are burning the businesses they break into and we live above a string of shops. We were all becoming genuinely afraid for our lives as there was no safe way out of the complex, we were essentially surrounded with no chance of the police or fire brigade reaching us.
More rioters joined them and shortly after they turned their attention on the Great Harry pub, it took them no time at all to smash through the windows and doors. One rioter punched the glass on the entrance door until it smashed, once inside they started taking the alcohol and shared it around. Laughing, joking and posing for pictures, they were all utterly blasé about the surrounding carnage.
The rioters inside the pub set fire to menus and left them on the tables, when this failed to ignite they poured spirits over chairs and set them ablaze. Within a few minutes the fire was spreading throughout the pub and out of control. Rioters continued to drink and take pictures of the pub being consumed by flames.
I could feel the heat from the fire against my face, growing hotter and hotter. The mob’s attention then turned to the burger restaurant next-door. Smashing through the windows with ease, a fire broke out almost instantly that was hard to see from our window. People in the crowd below shouted “Your building is on fire”. My heart sank. Not only does the restaurant have gas cylinders, it’s directly below the corner or the tower block. If it went up, it could take half the building with it. It’s an indescribable feeling: the town ablaze; lying in ruins; people shouting at you to leave the building; screaming from the residents echoing throughout; panic setting in and people fleeing to the car park.
We grabbed a handful of belongings, Mike took a backpack of things as Lu rounded-up the ferrets Grub and Daphne, and beloved pet rat Mr Smith. I grabbed a few family photos, my MacBook, iPad, video-camera, my lucky penny (my priorities are all fucked up) and a roll of toilet paper. Now, I can’t explain exactly what was running through my already tired brain at this point. Maybe it was a subconscious way of expressing just how much I was shitting myself (not literally, I can’t stress that enough), or that if the world was ending, at least we had loo roll.
Residents packed up their cars and clutched onto hastily packed bags and suitcases. Others called friends or family and a few struggled to comprehend what was happening. This sort of thing doesn’t happen on your doorstep on a Monday. It still ceased to feel like it was real. You watch it on the news or in a movie, you don’t live it.
Through another resident it was suggested that the building wasn’t on fire, and it was looters trying to get into their now empty and unguarded homes. We received a tweet from a gentleman the day after, who was not a rioter, but just a citizen trying to get somewhere safe. He was one of the people who entered the building, knocking on doors to raise the alarm. As suspicious as events may have been that evening, it was genuinely an act of kindness by these people to take it upon themselves to help.
The rioters moved on to destroy the newly opened Wilkinsons store, burning the precinct out entirely. also, a poundshop and branch of Barclays bank were badly damaged. It’s believed that they then returned to the main high street and set fire to clothing store Blue Inc. They broke more shop windows while they were at it as well.
In this time the police and fire brigade were able to get to the fires and thankfully extinguishing them. Returning to the flat to see what was going on, I was so relieved to see police standing where rioters were a few minutes earlier. I asked one of the officers if the building was on fire or at risk. I was told the fire was out and the building was safe. In the car park I told the residents what the police officer had said and slowly most of them returned to their homes or ventured out to speak to the police themselves.
As you can see from these exclusive screen stills, Woolwich was hit just as badly as other areas. It was left off maps published in the Telegraph, on BBC and in the Metro newspaper. We suffered just as much destruction as other areas.
I don’t wish to throw in my two pence worth about why this is going on, and I don’t mean to trivialise any of these events, but the film Super, which I watched recently, contains a brief monologue, of which the words are not that applicable, but the sentiment is more than fitting:
“YOU DON’T BUTT IN LINE. YOU DON’T SELL DRUGS. YOU DON’T MOLEST LITTLE CHILDREN. YOU DON’T PROFIT ON THE MISERY OF OTHERS. THE RULES WERE SET A LONG TIME AGO. THEY DON’T CHANGE.”
Join our tribe
We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?