My last post, ‘The Unpleasant Truth’, was written in anger and in shock. I honestly couldn’t comprehend the levels that people here, in the UK, were sinking to in their acts of rioting, looting, arson, violence and who knows what else. There were good things to come out of the past week though; the organisation and execution of mass ‘Riot Clean Up’ operations in the affected British cities which caused the bringing together of thousands of people in their masses to clear up the mess which had been left by the few who couldn’t care less. The images of whole communities out on their local high street, brooms in the air and the fierce sense of pride for their country in their faces cheered me – their united defiance against the violence and destruction they had seen was evident and heartening. London – one of the busiest cities in the world, and people turned out on weekday mornings to put it back together, piece by piece.
Whilst the good people of Britain were out in their masses, however, I was embarking on an entirely different ‘mission’ altogether. On Tuesday morning I was up and about at 6:45 AM sharp to journey to one of the most beautiful and isolated places in the country – the type of place you immediately imagine if the words ‘idyllic’ ‘rural’ and ‘Britain’ feature in the same sentence. To say that the day was a “breath of fresh air” after the news bombardment of the day before was putting it mildly, especially as it was one of those places which has zero crime and everybody knows everybody.
Wandering round a Church Fete in glorious sunshine where the giggles of children sat watching the Punch and Judy show mixed in with the adults chatting over their afternoon teas and the stallholders calling across the garden at one another I found it hard to imagine this close-knit community I was standing in the middle of being torn apart by terrifying acts of violence. It it so strange that these incidents have come and gone so quickly – with a rampage of rolling news and live blogs between Saturday and Tuesday. But now? The media will go straight onto the next ‘big’ story and it will be the people of the affected cities who are left to rebuild their communities after the unexpected and truly bizarre happenings this week. Last night I came across an article by Hugo Rifkind on just this topic and he summed up perfectly, as he put it on Twitter, “The news, and the way it’s gone weird”. You may disagree, but In my opinion what he is saying is true. Another post, although one which took a slightly different angle on the topic of the news was Rosalind’s, entitled “Feelings”, in which she spoke of the way we react to constantly having information thrown at us and how it is important to take time for ourselves just to live as well.
On the return journey I mulled over the previous day’s events in my mind. I spent Monday afternoon wandering round a small seaside fishing village, walking along the old cobbled streets and being serenaded by a boy of about twelve busking with his banjo. The shouts of children jumping of the harbour wall into the cool, green sea made their way along to the small sandy beach where families were packing up their wind breaks and deck chairs for the day. Watching all this from the coast road above I thought “All these families will go back to their cosy little rented cottages, have spaghetti bolognese for their tea and curl up and watch a Disney film – they couldn’t be further away, in body or spirit, from the riots”. And that was ok. They didn’t need to be.
As much as it’s good for us all to keep up to date with the news and be aware of both home and current affairs there is a danger that we live our lives through information sources such as Twitter and the BBC to gain every scrap of information we can. We’re impatient – we crave knowledge of current events. Not current as in what has happened yesterday, or even this morning, but what is happening NOW. This minute, this second. I am guilty of this such addiction to news and I can tell you it’s not always good. I think sometimes we all need to remind ourselves to live our own lives – enjoy simple pleasures such as reading, listening, talking, running, swimming, being. Being alive.