Punting and Riots

Well, it’s a very interesting time to be in England right now!

Last night marked the 4th consecutive night of rioting in towns all around the southern part of the country. Originally beginning in a low income neighborhood called Totenham over a shooting last week, the unrest has spread to other parts of London as well as Liverpool, Manchester and others. Fortunately, Oxford has seen little action (a nearby McDonalds was set on fire), but apparently these are the worst rioting the country has seen in two decades. Me and my classmates have been canceling day trips to London left and right (I planned on going in last night to do a walking tour around Highgate Cemetery). PM David Cameron has double police presence in London and apparently there was relatively little incident there last night, though things have escalated in Liverpool and Manchester. We were actually on lock-down last night and advised not to leave our dorm rooms.

It’s been pretty scary, honestly. I mean, I live on a secure campus (basically a gated community complete with big wooden medieval doors and access keys everywhere) so realistically the chance of something happening to me, personally, is unbelievably low, but I’ve never been in an area with this kind of action. I don’t even know what I’d do in that kind of situation. Duck and cover? Probably lock myself in the  bathroom…

The truly scary thing about these riots is that the rioters aren’t really rioting about anything. Sure, they started off being about this drug dealer shooting fiasco, but now people are just angry and ready to break stuff because they’re angry and want to break stuff. They’re unemployed, their services are getting cut and they’re upset. In their various calls to action posted on Facebook, they say things like “why don’t we deserve free stuff?”. It’s madness. There is little coherence, rhyme or reason to it. AND many people have been saying that the Police will be present as a car burns or whatever, and will take little effort to stop whatever is going on. THAT I find really terrifying.

But, take heart, I’m avidly following the news feeds, staying very informed and if I do go to London (hopefully on Friday), I will NOT be there at night. Things seem to be dying down, and hopefully this trend follows.

Shall we move onto less stressful things?

I went punting yesterday! Punting and gondala-ing (like in Venice with the boat) are basically the same thing but with different boats (?). They might be completely the same thing/same boats, just in different countries. I don’t know enough about boats to judge. There were four of us in my boat: me, Joey, Nicole and Yukon. We all took turns using the giant metal pole to scoot us along the bottom of the river and the paddle, but man that pole is HEAVY! so I just paddled a lot. I can tell you right now, it is no where near as easy as it looks. In fact, I would say it’s really difficult and we may have gotten stuck more often than not. We did not, however, capsize or fall in, which I consider a win. And we bought fudge afterward :) All in all, it was a pretty good day (except for the whole lock-down thing in the evening).


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