My fellow Americans,
Sorry I don't know how to exactly send off a letter to a foreign country. If I say "Hey y'all" I'm worried that everyone will think that I'm a big racist and "Dear Sir / Madam" makes me unquestionably die inside a little, so let's move on.
Whenever you hear about London, you always hear it in spits and spats. It is like the news from the fringes of your own family; you only hear from them in regards to news about a new birth, wedding or funeral. As a result of this London has kinda becomes this sort of never-changing fantasy land, where you all automatically assume that we still sit down regularly and have afternoon tea, we all huddle round the box to watch the latest episode of Monty Python, Keeping Up Appearances (which stopped in 1995) and Top Gear, love our darling Queen to bits and generally most of the time squeeze out generation after generation of babies with dodgy teeth. When news does filter out to your country all that it does is reinforce this fantasy. For example... "Kate and William are having a fairytale wedding!!!??!!" / "London has got a NEW Prime Minister (see ya later Tony Blair)" / *INSERT GRATUITOUS ARTICLE ABOUT HARRY POTTER*
As a Brit who travels to your country it can be incredibly frustrating, but we understand. We all know that as your country is approximately 4654 times larger than ours and you can personally fit half the population into your own backyard, so it isn't always worthwhile for us to be in your news agenda. Well that is until two of the poshest people get married and then you provide YEARS of coverage, but never mind.
Of course, as of just over a week ago, everything changed. Instead of our exports comprising of Kings and Queens and the occasional interview with a Brit that requires subtitles underneath because you can't understand our accent, you saw gangs looting well known shops and local stores, torching entire buildings and attacking innocent members of the public. Instead of Doctor Who and clotted cream you saw thugs thieving an already injured Malaysian student of his possessions whilst seeming at first that they were there to help him. Instead of a city welcoming athletes and tourists from around the world, we had descended into utter chaos from out of nowhere.
Why were such acts committed in our home city, followed by the rest of the country? We don't know. We're trying to work it out ourselves. Supposed reasons why they committed such acts vary from their apparent resentment towards increases in tuition fees and a reduction in payments for those in higher education from less privileged backgrounds, to a sense of boredom by those who were 'pushed-out' to mainstream society, to the belief that if they went looting for televisions the police wouldn't stop them, to f*ck it, they're idiots. London has gone from this stable and secure city close to its own Olympics to one that is under the verge of a nervous breakdown, a city that saw violence before but nowhere near this sense being out of control. Camilla-being-poked-by-a-stick-in-a-taxi this ain't.
However, the reason why I am writing you this article to you today is to show that since the cameras have shown these graphic scenes there has been a sense of progress within this city. London has been restored, and is stronger and safer, now more than it has been for years. You wouldn't see this in international news headlines, nor would you would you have a feeling of this if you aren't here. Let me explain.
Firstly, London has restored itself through gestures of goodwill that we have shown here can only be described as being distinctively British. The day after communities were attacked by those who showed no care to where they live, thousands of people defiantly got their dustpans and brushes and cleaned up the streets where they lived, organised solely by the means of Twitter. People bent backwards to set up appeals for those without insurance who had their property destroyed by rioters, including an 87 year old man who received more than £20,000 to reopen his destroyed barber shop. There was also #operationcupoftea, where people posted photos of themselves drinking in front of camera to show to the outside world that the majority of us aren't looters. That's right, when some of us are outraged by the state of affairs within our country we just MUST be seen posing in front of a camera whilst drinking a cup of Earl Grey on various forms of social media.
Secondly, the city is really starting showing a sense of respect and care to others that it rarely shows, at least for now. Whilst every single other business closed on Tuesday night near where I lived under fear of being attacked by looters, a local bagel shop defied to the risk and stayed open to help provide food to the very riot police themselves. As well as this I've heard stories of people openly applauding policemen on the street finishing their patrol and looked after friends or neighbours whose property had been affected by the violence themselves. Apart from Monday when everyone had to stay in, and on Tuesday when everyone felt that they ought to stay in, the people of the city has been out in force as if the events of last week had never happened at all. Whilst still helping those who had been affected by Friday the city seemed one for now of utter celebration, as well as primarily, relief.
So if you are second-guessing your trip to London, think that we aren't ready for the Olympics or think that over here there has been total break down of the generations within our society, think again. Although we haven't entirely worked out why it all happened, nor are we any closer to making any changes to prevent it happening over again, our stereotypical city has never been more together and more importantly 'open for business'.
Might I also add that with 10,000 more police the city itself we are more well equipped in terms of providing tourist information over here than ever before. Although I do warn you that as many of them have been drafted over from Wales at the last minute they probably are as clueless in terms of helping you try to work out how to travel across the London Underground as you are.
Yours or see ya later dudes (or whatever),
Scott BryanSuggest a correction