I forget to mention yesterday what exactly happened when I went to the library. In case you are thinking that I went to ‘spectate’, well I didn’t. Last week I ordered some math’s books for my daughter. The school said that it wanted the children to look over some work during the summer break, in preparation for the AS Level work at school. I received a letter telling me that the books had arrived from another library. I went alone to the library (Marcus Garvey Library) and was surprised to see the Japanese TV crew (I know they were Japanese as one of the librarians told me so), smiling away but nervous to approach anyone to interview; the French TV crew were interviewing an elderly West Indian man, and I could hear him in full swing talking about the early sixties. Somewhere in the car park, another TV crew was interviewing two black girls.
The crew was sitting at the back of their huge van, and extended from the top of it was a huge massive aerial. After talking with the librarian, I collected the books and left. I decided to walk into the High Road to see what was happening. Yes, at this point, I was curious. There was tape along the road, directing pedestrians off the High road to the back roads which run along with the car parks. It was interesting to see a number of people around and the police interacting with the public. My ‘walk’took me to the far end of Bruce Grove. There was absolutely no where I could access the High Road as it had been sealed off by tape. Eventually, I came out onto the road, and saw part of the 1930s (Carpet showroom) building which had been there well before I was born. Such a shame that the building should be seen as ‘iconic’ now that it has died a death. I read somewhere in one of the papers that how buildings are important to a community; especially if it has history, it should be revered and respected. Now that it has gone, whichever architect is hired, this building cannot be replaced .
I cross over the High Road to Pembury Road, and there are groups of people, just sitting, talking. And each group I pass, there seems to be nothing else to discuss other than the riots. There is a car, totally burnt. People stop, remove their camera phones and take photos. Yet another TV crew are at the end of the road, arguing between themselves about where they should go. I wonder if I should volunteer and talk to them but I say no, as the area has a bad rep as it is. I don’t want to say something that becomes misconstrued and distorted; something that I might have to give lengthy explanations to people.
I went out to do some shopping. Normally on a Tuesday I’d go to Dewhurst the butchers in Bruce Grove to buy my lamb chops and oxtail but I was reminded by my neighbour that Dewhurst was completely ‘down’. I tell myself that I’ll go instead to Tesco’s but quickly change my mind as I remember that a book I’d reserved in Wood Green Central library is ready for collection so I head there. When I get to Wood Green, boarded windows are everywhere. Business is still as usual, the road is busy and so is the traffic. I park, rush to the library to get my book then head back to the car. I spot the community leader Stafford Scott along Dongola Road. Didn’t I just read an article written by him in today’s Guardian? I decide to drive to the top of Phillip Lane where it meets Tottenham High Road. I can see the high road is still cordoned off; the street is littered with police vehicles and yellow tape and there are smattering of ‘officials’ walking around. In the distance, I can see objects in the road but cannot make out what they are. Turning into Monument Way I see the white building that was in the back ground when David Lammy gave his earnest speech. I drive pass Tottenham Hale and the Retail Park. The Costacoffee shop has wooden planks in its shop windows. The road is desolate with just a few cars in front of me. The time is 1.00pm.
When I get home, my partner and I decide to go to Croydon. Not because we want to ogle but we had decided some days ago that we would go and see a few estate agents to check on properties. We get into the car, drive to Seven Sisters Underground and then park the car in the car park. We go to the kiosk to buy our tickets and ask if Croydon station is open. We are told it is. Just as we are about to go down the escalator, we see and greet the community leader – Rev. Nim Obunge who we have seen and heard on the TV. In fact it is not just us but a number of people rush to him and shake his hand.
We get to East Croydon quite quickly. Once we arrive, we decide not to stay in the city centre but to take the 466 to Purley. In the five-minute journey, I am shocked and surprised at the number of smashed shop fronts and the number shops closed for the day. I guess who can blame them. We find a few agents and look at what they have on offer and they collect our details. Did we want something to eat? We say no and decide that I should cook when we get home. On our return journey, as the train pass Clapham Junction we notice a crowd around a set of traffic lights which I take to be on the High street.
We wonder what is happening. The journey to Seven Sisters underground is swift; we get off and make our way to the car park. Shops are boarded, traffic as busy as ever and it is a hot evening. We walk to where we had parked our car and drive to the nearby Tesco’s to do some shopping and the ‘chatter’ that is over heard as you walk pass people is about the riots – from opinions about the speech of David Lammy to ‘not enough Police’. If people were not talking then they were either texting or reading their messages on their mobiles. And I have to add they were of different age groups. As I said before in my other ‘Tottenham’ blog, I’m just about speechless to all what is happening. This is taking us back to another 25 years!!
Just to add, later on I found out that the butchers in Tottenham High Road, Dewhurst’s, are alive and well. Thank God!
I am from Tottenham, born and raised there, was educated there and it funded my university education. As I meet people whether from other parts of London or other parts of the country or other parts of the world, I am expected to give an explanation
for what happened Saturday night. But I’m afraid I cannot only but feel bad for all what has happened.
The looting and criminal acts were horrific and to a certain extent quite frightening. I hate that the area has been cordoned off; a listed building is now in ruins (alongside
other buildings) and that hard working people have lost their homes and businesses. Tottenham has somehow been able to get away with not becoming gentrified and hang on to its individuality but there is no question that it is a desperate place and you walk around hoping to see something different, something new but that hardly happens.
Although it did happen with the Tottenham Retail Park (that is just about a year old!)but now the majority of the businesses are ruins. But given all that has happened- presently and back in 1985 – I am not ashamed of coming from the area, it certainly was a safe haven for my parents when they came here in the late 50s. Opportunists
and thugs are just taking advantage we are told; there is nothing happening in their boring lives so they do this they also say. Maybe there is a grain of truth in these comments, but surely the recession and ‘mad’ unemployment are some of the factors needed to be looked at as possible contributory reasons.
In general, Tottenhamites are friendly people and hate, as much as anyone, what is happening to their area and community. A final point, the day after the riot, I went
out as usual to buy the Sunday Times but was told by three newsagents that there was no delivery of these papers and that we would have to go outside the area to buy as they refused to come to the area. Yesterday, Monday, I went out to buy the Guardian, again, the same problem. I just hope that we are not going to see anymore of this.