On Monday I went up to London to celebrate Moose's birthday. The plan was to have a meal out with his family and then go over to Wetherspoons for a few drinks. It started off perfectly, we had a gorgeous meal in a taps bar in Wimbledon, and then were dropped off outside the pub in Sutton.
This is where the evening just plain got dumb. The rioting in Croydon had become ridiculous, and Croydon's pretty close to Sutton, so the police presence around town was pretty heavy. We weren't allowed in Wetherspoons, they were in the process of kicking people out as we got there. Apparently they'd been told they had to shut up shop incase anything happened, but it was pretty strange when the highstreet was so utterly deserted. The place was entirely peaceful, save for the occasional police car parked up. Whatever was happening in Croydon certainly hadn't hit Sutton yet, so we found Moose's friends outside and headed to another pub, off the highstreet, that was still open and unaffected.
It was really nice staying there, only a couple of men drinking, all of which in really good spirits. One guy headed to the jukebox and put on 'I Predict A Riot' by the Kaiser Chiefs, and 'London's Burning' by the Clash and the Sex Pistols' 'Anarchy in the UK' and it was utterly surreal. Here we were, having a nice drink in a quiet pub, with angry relevant music belting from the jukebox, while the television showed carnage and destruction happening only miles away. I think that right there is a very strong testament of Britishness, that whole 'go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over' attitude.
Sadly, no longer could we get comfortable for the night before the landlord came in telling us he had to shut up shop, too. We started hearing rumours that Matalan and Halfords at the bottom of the highstreet were on fire, and that it'd all started kicking off in Sutton. We weren't rushed out, so lazily finished our drinks and plodded out to see what was going on.
Turns out... nothing? We headed down behind Matalan and everything was calm. We looped around to look up the highstreet, and there were a few police cars outside Halfords, but nothing exciting and certainly no rioters. We learned later that Argos had its window broken, but no looting.
Finally we found a pub that entirely didn't care, and stayed there until last orders were called. The rest of the night was spent in Moose's room watching Wrath play League of Legends, because we're utterly hardcore like that.
The whole thing was strange to be a part of, however disconnected my part was. Coming home Tuesday was a a pain because they closed Clapham, Wimbledon and Mordon stations. We were told the whole town was shutting down as early as 3pm, and Moose's dad thankfully gave Wrath and I a lift to Woking where we could sort ourselves out (my train goes directly through, so that was pretty handy.)
As for the actual rioting? I'm tired of it, now. Every time I see footage I get so damned angry. It's very clear who runs the country now, that these lowlife thugs can stop the capital so easily and so suddenly. It's not about a shooting anymore. It's not about anything. When asked, the thugs reply "I'm gettin' my taxes back!" (like they've paid a penny tax in their lives) or "free stuff innit?" - If I see one more interview with these people I think I'll throw the television out the window.
And as for Moose? He had a nice birthday regardless, I think. I got him a little birthday cake because I don't think he's had a birthday cake for a while. I also got him some TF2 posters to decorate his new room with when he moves to university next month (next month! jesus christ...), a Portal turret t-shirt and a wireless dongle thing so he can access the internet before they get broadband connected. (A bit selfish, that one. It's me that can't handle not talking to him all night every night.) I also took the dumb book back, and got a £10 voucher for him to spend on Necron junk when they finally do release it.
So yeah. It was a pretty different night out, at least.