How was the team at Time Out London affected by the riots?
There has been a huge range of emotions flying around, from anger to sadness, bewilderment to horror. Many staff have their own stories of being caught up on streets during the looting or watching kids ride past, struggling with ill-gotten gains.
As someone who has lived in London for a number of years, could you see this coming?
I personally didn’t see it coming. Before working at Time Out I was the MD of a charity called Cardboard Citizens, which works with homeless people. I’m sure had I still been working there I would have had more of an idea of the strength of feeling that the disenfranchised elements of our society were experiencing. I knew the proposed cuts in social services and the shooting of Mark Duggan might have had an effect, but I had no idea it would spread like wildfire across the city – and country.
What is the overriding feeling in London now?
If you’re to believe the papers, the feelings are those of anger mixed with a thirst for retribution. But there is another, more positive set of emotions emerging: those of community and charity.
Dubai’s British expats have been glued to the UK news coverage. Was the situation over-dramatised at all?
I’m not sure that it was. Some people have lost everything. Fear has been struck into the hearts of the elderly and vulnerable members of the community. Things have calmed down now and, as ever, our sense of humour has returned.
Have the riots sparked any creative projects in the city?
Funny Photoshop projects have been put together, using pictures taken during the riots; a lot of remarkable poster art has been produced, and many cultural institutions are holding charity entertainment nights to raise money for those most devastated by the madness.
Do you have a message for concerned British expats?
I used to watch a programme called Soccer AM on Sky TV, which created a word that they tried to spread into the public consciousness: ‘bouncebackability’. These riots have proved that London has ‘bouncebackability’ by the shed-load. It has brought out the worst, but also the best in Londoners.
Have any charities been set up that people here can send donations to?
A lot of groups have been organising donations and clean ups. Search for ‘London Riots – How Can I help’ on our blog, www.now-here-this.timeout.com.