Saturday, 13 August 2011

Neither a rioter nor a cleaner-upper be

It's the newest parlour game of the twittering classes, playing how badly did the riots affect you. We get kudos for living about a quarter of a mile from the epicentre of the first night of rioting, though in truth we were safely home watching a film and wondering why the helicopter overhead wasn't going away and whether it would wake the baby. 

It was close enough though that today there was a riot clean up near here. Members of the community were asked to turn out to clean up the streets, to show good can come out of bad and that we shall overcome and all that. 

We didn't go. I caught up on sleep while my husband entertained the baby. And later when we went for a walk through the affected area, we wondered whether we should have, and whether doing that kind of thing with a baby is possible, and more to the point given the whole thing is about perceptions and being seen to care about communities, whether we would be judged for not turning up. And we concluded that probably those who have had children will understand the logistical difficulty of all being fed and clean and dressed and awake and able to get to the right place at the right time, and those who haven't will wonder why we weren't there from the very beginning, baby strapped to our back and broom waving in the air. 

But that's the thing about babies - they give you the moral highground from which you can worry about the impact on society of practically everything, yet for a few years at least they sap you of the ability to do anything about it. I've noted it though, and will remember that when we are able we, as a family, owe our area some kind of community activism. 


  1. I think you do the best you can, given whatever circumstances you face. Sleep is important! Not that you necessarily had any obligation anyway, but over time I reckon your family will make more than its fair share of positive community contributions.

  2. And by not going you avoided buying into the neo-liberal Big Society agenda, and are therefore much to be praised.