Watching the people get lairy

Sometimes I think I’ve fallen asleep and woken up in the eighties. Teens sport leggings and batwing sleeves and the only money to be found is in The City. The Tory government are off on their hols and there are riots in Tottenham and Brixton.

Choose Life! The eighties are back.

2011 will be remembered as the year of the riot. The Middle East started us off with their desperate call for a voice. We’re lucky enough in the UK to be able to be able to express our views freely and to criticise the government as much as we like but peaceful demonstrations have had a habit recently of turning into violence. Students started us off at the end of last year when their demonstrations against university fees turned into a free for all. On March 26th we marched peacefully against cuts while others broke into shops, set fire to stuff and chucked things at the police.

The most recent riots started out after a peaceful demonstration from the family and friends of Mark Duggan, the man shot by police in Tottenham. What followed seems to me to indicate a general malaise. This time it wasn’t the public school-educated sons of rock stars throwing bottles at police, it was the ordinary London kids.

I’ve read several articles about the inevitability of the violence of the last couple of nights but I don’t believe a riot is ever inevitable, it’s a choice. In this case I believe it’s a series of factors that came together: long summer evenings along with the feeling that the police are against you. And surely the constant drip feed of service cuts and lack of jobs for young people are part of it. The country’s decision-makers and law-enforcers don’t care about you, your community or your future. And what the hell, you’re bored and fed up and others are out there looting nice stuff and attacking the police so you may as well join in.

My neighbour Brixton has taken a balanced view of things. The high street and tube station are closed to prevent groups gathering and local councillors, MPs and community leaders are meeting to discuss what happens now. Which is more than be said for the prime minster and the mayor of London who are away on holiday (but not together. Wouldn’t that be an interesting scenario? They could reminisce about their elite educations) and really don’t want to be interrupted by nasty things like common people protesting.

Tottenham's burning

I have no doubt however that when the communities clear things up and get those youngsters back in front of the telly where they belong, that both Cameron and Johnson will be claiming responsibility for sorting things out. Or am I being cynical?

Meanwhile I’ll be putting on a Bananarama record and slipping into Choose Life t-shirt. Because we’re living in the eighties, right?



Oh my days! talking to da yoot

I was talking to a teacher yesterday who is new to the LA and she told me how she drives into London every day from the Home Counties. She was quite shocked, she said, by the levels of deprivation at the secondary school where she works but more shocked by the way the pupils spoke. She admitted that it had taken the first few weeks of term to understand what the pupils were on about and no, we’re not talking about pupils newly arrived in the country. I guess I’m used to the way da yoot speaks round here, it’s just the London patois made up of a little of this and a little of that.

 Following hard on the heels of uber luvvie Emma Thompson’s comments last week about the way young people speak, this made me think. I love the richness of the English language and the muddle of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Latin with a fair sprinkling of dialect. It’s hell for spellers- take -ough for example, which can be pronounced as in though, ought, through, enough, cough- but its depth is its also its strength. It is also a flexible language that allows for change.

 So who am I, with my BBC accent or Emma Thompson with her Cambridge University- educated vowels to say what is proper although it’s probably not a good idea to call your teacher bro’. Because that’s just wrong, wasteman.

 In case you’d like to understand what young people are talking about, here is a handy guide with translation. But please don’t try it yourself if you’re over twenty cos it’s just embarrassing. Innit.

 What endz are you repping, blud? (From which part of London do you hail, my good man?)

 Your wifey is buff, fam. (Your ladyfriend is really rather attractive, my good man.)

 Oh my days, she is such a sket! (Gosh, she seems to have slept her way round town.)

 You think you’re a nangman but you is buttaz, innit. (You’d like to think you’re jolly cool but actually you’re an idiot, innit.)

 Your mum. (I hold you in such low esteem that I can’t even be bothered to insult you so I will imply something nasty about your mother and leave your overactive imagination to do the rest.)

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