Twelve Months On

12 months ago to the day the immediate world around here turned into a war zone. And that’s the truth. War had broken out in South London. I was way too concerned with my personal safety to post anything online on the 8th August.

As the day progressed the unrest got worse. All available media from conventional BBC News to Twitter feeds was filling us in on what the state of play was on the streets.

I am disabled and unable to walk any distance, I am also paralysed on my right side. I (along with another) was feeling extremely vulnerable and in serious fear for life. By early evening the air was thick with black stinking smoke floating in from the rear of my home. At about 2000hrs I was seriously considering vacating in an attempt to get down to Devon (these crazy ideas hit me when the decks are down). But to get from South London to Paddington station or even some disabled transport would have been an impossible task.These were the longest two hours I had experienced for ages. We were watching it live on BBC News and witnessing it from our very own windows.

By 2200hrs, although the worse mainland destruction in this area since the wartime blitz had taken place, it seemed that the police had matters kind of under control.

From the night of the 8th (although rioting was still underway in other areas) the worse seemed over on our doorstep and the massive process that we are stilling undertaking had in a strange way begun. Almost instantly from the flames through Twitter and other news was a huge call to build again.

My mother and father and their parents had frequently told me how life was night after night of relentless bombing and fear. They were teenagers and young/middle age adults during the war. All I could recall the night of the 8th was an appreciation of what they went through on a larger scale and the stories they passed to me.

The 8th August 2011 is another of ‘those dates’. Just like the 7th July 2005 when London and Londoners were bombed.

Politicians were slow to react in the hours and days following the 8th. They were on their holidays and didn’t re-appear until the worse was over and the dust was settling to reveal the true devastation to life, business and the infrastructure.

Much has been written about the ‘reason’ for this nightmare.

I am frequently accused of banging on about the need for a strong majority led Labour Government. Well, the news is, the ‘banging on’ will not end.

Much of the frustration vented a year ago was directly against the current unloving, arrogant, uncaring and dismissive regime. To the rotten banks, twisted and verging on the criminal. An ‘us and them’ society where the forgotten ones are frustrated, brushed sideways and sometimes patronised.

Time is ticking and will tell if the messages are finally getting through the luxurious wallpapered, lush walls of the Westminster village. Getting through to the elected ladies and gentlemen of the House of Commons. Their transient current position could well be over come the next election that will be fought on groundbreaking social reform and drastic investment in this country.

Meanwhile we have raw memories, some hope, some good news from ordinary folk representing us on the world stage at Stratford. Maybe there is a twinkle. A fine sharp light at the end of this tunnel. Tears and genuine smiles at the London Olympics from people in the street as well as those taking part aren’t just about ‘winning’. Look into their eyes. You tell by the eyes – it’s about being who we are and maybe, just maybe, who we could be.

Ian Waugh