Stealing a sofa, what next? The last 3 weeks in London featured Riots, Rain and GCSE Results, more or less in that order. Waiting at Dar Es Salaam airport to board a flight back to Dubai we were horrified to watch the protest at the police shooting of Mark Duggan, morph into full scale rioting and looting on the streets of initially London’s less affluent boroughs (Tottenham, Hackney) spreading quickly to Clapham and even St John’s Wood. We went ahead with our London visit and arrived on the 12th of August, the first quiet day after the riots, the main talking points of our London pals went like this:
How could this happen? Well it happened because people felt they could get away with theft and were confident at being immune to punishment, the Police were powerless, at least at first. People were just bored, and wanted something to do. And isn’t everyone today judged much more on what they have possessions wise and not on who they are? Not all the looters were “poor” -What do you mean, poor? Many looters drove in cars they owned to retail parks and robbed random items and then drove home to flats and houses they owned and watched (possibly themselves looting) on the flatscreens plasmas they’d loaded into their hatchbacks.
Did you hear about the looter who tried on several pairs of shoes before selecting the right sizes and styles for her, and oh the looters in Clapham who even stole a sofa from a department store on the first floor and of course the fact that in one highstreet the only shop not touched was Waterstones (a major UK book chain) as there’s no resale value for books is there and looters don’t read do they ?
Some of the press are now criticising the harshness of the sentences handed down to some looters, 6 months for being found empty handed in an Argos store to 4 years for inciting people to riot via social networking sites, I wonder what sort of sentences would be meted out in the UAE for these crimes and what would be considered harsh here?
The other major domestic news was August’s GCSE results for students up and down the country. Apparently grade inflation seems to have come to an end, this means for the first time in 15 years the % of A and A*s didn’t go up. This is also the last year tuition fees stay at £3175, (AED 9000) per annum. Next September (2012) fees shoot up to £9000
(AED 54, 000) per annum for home students. While there was an unprecedented scramble for places, many students and parents are thinking hard about the university route to a satisfying and well paid career. The increase in fees and the heightened competition at getting in not only to the university of your choice but then to secure a training position at a professional firm (think accountants and lawyers) has people questioning what to do for the best.
And the backdrop to most of this was rain ! Despite having many umbrellas at home, I’m still not clever about taking one out with me and so suffered the humiliation of getting wet and looking bedraggled rather than pay £7.00 (Dhs 30) for a very dodgy umbrella from a market stall in front of Selfridges, yes UniQlo has cheaper ones but is a fair walk and of course the cheapest one at Selfridges, one of my favourite stores, was £15.00. I wasn’t tempted to loot it but then my second favourite store is Waterstones.
Many Dubai residents visit the UK in the summer months, were you in London this summer, did the riots affect you? Let me know by writing a comment in the box below. Next week’s post from London Calling talks about the shops that aren’t in any of Dubai’s malls and more analysis of the GCSE vs IGCSE exams, which ones are right for your child and do you have a choice at all ?