I once wrote quite an angry little rant about Tesco’s plans to build a store around the corner from us on Myrtle Street. I was very opinionated about the destruction of independent business and I riled against the building. And then they built it and the new Tesco was ridiculously useful for things like emergency vegetables and meat which isn’t sold by any of our local businesses and I became quite fond of it and the nice people who work behind the counter.
At half 11 last night, my housemate returned from a trip to the cinema in town explaining that his taxi driver had said that disturbances were starting to occur on Smithdown Road, one of the main roads into Liverpool and a mere stone’s throw from our house. Liverpool taxi drivers are a fountain of knowledge and if anything is happening in the city they know long before even the police but we didn’t take it entirely seriously, checking Twitter occasionally and unsure what was rumour and what was true. At this point, David stood up to the window and saw the fires burning across our beautiful square gardens. Suddenly, the banging of exploding petrol tanks and thrown fireworks became frighteningly close and we watched aghast as gangs of hooded people ran past our front door shouting ‘Get to Tesco for free stuff’. The looting and rioting then continued branching out from our area down into the town and over into Toxteth, the scene of the riots 30 years ago. There are videos online which I can’t quite bring myself to watch but they show the riot police advancing towards hundreds of people with their faces covered throwing homemade ammunition and screaming. The police helicopters droned overhead until gone 5am and it was weirdly comforting to know they were there.
So that was how the Liverpool riots affected our little part of town. The Tesco that I riled against was looted and then burned down and I’m furious. Absolutely seething. There’s no cause. Nobody was shot in Liverpool. They are motivated by greed, boredom and vendetta and they are terrifying for this very reason. Where there’s no cause, there’s no obvious sign who will be targeted and why. Last night, they burned the cars and the businesses but tonight if they come back, what will they burn then? The houses?
Fortunately, last night, they ignored the independent businesses and the chap who owns the green and yellow local shop around the corner must be enjoying the rewards of Tesco actually being closed and people going back in there for their essentials. There were many camera crews and police milling on the street corner on my way to get a paper and our leafy square has never probably seen so many police as there are today but there are also many people who seem to have come out in mawkish curiosity.
Our house is a fortress and we’re battening down the hatches but the indignation about how senseless this is and how pointless the violence and the destruction prevails.