Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London Metamorphosis

All this does take me right back - I wasn't involved in the 1980’s riots but I well remember the sense of young male excitement at seeing normal laws and rules suspended and not knowing what might happen next. Now it doesn't excite me, it just makes me depressed and concerned. I was listening to Radio Five-Live last night in bed and from the panicky and heightened reporting it appeared to be spreading right across London.

No doubt that most of what's happening is what they call 'recreational violence' with no point other than thieving and 'fun'. But you can't help reflect that we've built this culture where we send signals all the time that we value possessions and status above all else. How can we be surprised when people without cushy jobs in the city or the media suddenly decide to just help themselves?

I feel sorry for the small businesses that have felt the brunt of it all. I feel like there could be some political justification if they were marching on big multinational business but it seems to be mostly small family concerns being ransacked and burnt to the ground for no other reason than that they can. My gut feeling is that it will all peter out but what I dread now is the forthcoming weeks and months of endless analysis, enquiries, newspaper columns etc etc. The left will blame it on racism and economic deprivation - the right will want to bring back the birch, hanging and national service. In the end police powers will be even more beefed up and we'll all lose. Anyone would think we were back in the days of a Conservative Government....

I was looking for a drawing to illustrate this piece... but what do you do? What would be a suitable artistic response to all this? An angsty graphic of police stormtroopers? An ink spattered apocalypse of menacing hoodies, maybe some leading politicians wryly portrayed as looters? Other artists will be busy doing this right now: guns, fire, anger... but it’s all been done and it all seems a bit inadequate to be honest. So I’ll simply leave you with the lady above who wandered across my drawing board earlier today...

Sleep tight.

And to go with, the beautiful and incomparable Karen Dalton 'It's Alright' ...


  1. Very well said, that man. Nothing I can add.
    But the beetle is gorgeous - is she a female stag (oxymoronically) or a dor or a minotaur or other? (I'm looking through my reference book here right now but I can't tell!) Whatever she is, she's great.
    And thanks for introduction to Karen Dalton, she sounds a bit like Billie Holiday to my ears, there is something very appealing about that old low-fi blues sound too. I'll investigate more.

  2. And, good comment. Did you read Plan B in the Scum? here it is on BBC website

    cheers, Jay.

  3. Hi C, she's a female lesser stag. (And I only know cos I too have a handy reference book!). Glad I've sparked your interest in KD - she's a real gem.

    Thanks for that Jay, I've got plenty of time for Plan B/Ben Drew - good ole east end boy!