LONDON: Why we love you! (A reaction to the riots)
I haven’t written on FashionBite for a few days as living in London (and like all Londoners) I have been totally immersed in the absolutely devastating riots, which have sadly now spread across the country. I am so shocked, angered and appalled that a small section of society could do this to their own communities. This is my story…
I have lived in London for the last 5 years. I started out living in Deptford, then Charlton, now Blackheath and I will be shortly moving to the Brockley area. All these places are in the Lewisham/Greenwich area in South East London. Both Lewisham and Greenwich have been affected by the riots and looting.
Over the last five years, I have seen Lewisham and Deptford slowly improving as people work hard together, building up local businesses, opening new cafes and the government has been investing in these areas ahead of the Olympics. There is not a quick fix solution, but everyone has been working together to help improve the lives of their community. So to see people who live within these communities destroy what others have worked so hard to build is beyond belief.
It breaks my heart to watch news reports of retailers and independent shop keepers – who have struggled to keep their businesses going in such tough economic times – have their livelihoods and homes literally burn down in front of their eyes. Their products strewn across the road, windows smashed up and shops totally destroyed. Trade magazine Drapers announced this morning that one in ten UK businesses (almost 50,000 shops) have been impacted by the riots and looting, at a time when they are already struggling so much.
Why we shouldn’t forget what makes London so amazing…
On Sunday, I spent the most wonderful day with a friend. We met at The Laden Showrooms on Brick Lane (East London), then spent the day wandering around the fabulous markets which take place on a Sunday, where the roads are shut and stalls line the streets. We ate the most incredible street food – my friend’s from Morocco and mine from Nepal – at one of the indoor markets and it seemed like every culture and every background was represented. The sun was shining and the place was packed full of people, buzzing with life and full of excitement for the day. This is what London is all about, a place which welcomes everyone of all cultures, a place which embraces diversity and a place which is vibrant, full of spirit and opportunity.
On a press trip to Paris last year, a group of journalists and I went for dinner with the heads of a massive French company: a company with a turnover of around £600 million and whose founders have travelled the world. I remember having a conversation with one of these well-travelled men about his favourite place in the world and he told me London. He said the openness, the freedom and the ability to embrace everyone and everything was what made is such a rich and wonderful place to visit. Whenever he came over to London, he never wanted to leave and he said the fun, energy and spirit of the place was impossible to replicate anywhere else.
This is the London I know and love. No, it’s not perfect and there are always ways to improve it, but the key thing is people are willing and working hard to make it a better place for everyone. We will not let the despicable few – who have the support and opportunity (compared to 95% of the world) – destroy it for the rest. The few who offer nothing to society but expect everything. We must remember the greatness of London and the goodness of the majority who live within in.