So far it's been quiet-no riots in Scotland but arrests are up now on young people who've been caught 'inciting to riot' using FaceBook. I'd laugh but it's not really funny given the seriousness of the rioting, but if a FB user doesn't know by now that there IS NO ANONYMITY WITH FACEBOOK he/she deserves what they get. I don't FB and don't intend to (har-dee-har-har, you watch me have to FB now to keep up with the grandson).
We had a houseguest last week, and after he left to return to England, we jumped on the bus and went to Dundee. I'd seen the doctor Monday and been told I needed to lose two stone (sob, nearly thirty pounds!), so we used that as an excuse-need to find bathroom scales.
Which we found, and which I regret to say measure in stone and kilo, not pounds. Dammit. It sits there in the bathroom glaring reproachfully up and I stand there in the bathroom glaring resentfully down...
Dundee was not at all fun Friday. We took the bus down-lovely ride at the top front of the double decker, but within minutes of getting off the bus near one of the shopping centres we could sense something wasn't right-the vibe was tense, still, thick. I had my rucksack on and quickly began to wish that I hadn't. I felt vulnerable, as though anyone coming up too close behind me was going to be able to get at my purse and passport quickly.
We stopped at the chipper for sausage suppers (oh yeah, that helped that 30lbs alright). We took our treat back down to the shopping centre area and stood under cover watching the mist and people passing. People passing who looked hungrily and resentfully at our sausage suppers and I began to wish I'd had time to make us a lunch so we could have picnicked in the Howff Cemetery the way we usually do. I seriously thought some of the passersby were going to lunge at us, I really did, it was a VERY strange vibe going on in Dundee Friday!
People looked strange, almost as though I was seeing them through a fun house mirror. They looked angry, and on edge, and it wasn't just the young people, even the older people, the OLD people looked snarly.
We had a haggis we meant to post down to said houseguest who'd forgot to take it down when he left. Paul went into the post office and I stood outside to smoke a cigarette. While I was standing out there I noticed a beggar harassing an elderly Hindu. The beggar looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. He had his hood pulled up against the misting rain but there was something sinister about him-I kept telling myself "Oh now, you're hyper because of the riots" but eventually he left the slim pickings of the older man, walked past me rather automatically asking if I had a spare twenty pence without stopping. He made eye contact, his eyes not really registering any emotion, not even disappointment when I shook my head regarding the 20p.
About three minutes later I noticed he was back with friends. Friends who looked more seedy than he. One of the young men looked about 17 and as though he was slumming-he positioned himself across the pavement (sidewalk) from me and I started to think, "Oh hey, I think I might be about to be mobbed..." I didn't really want to think that but Gavin de Becker's outstanding little book The GIft of Fear popped into my head, the example of getting into a lift with someone who makes you VERY uncomfortable...
I got rid of my smoke (I was at that point willing to take a chance on a bobby giving me a littering fine-nae bother, didn't see a one the whole time we were in Dundee, and that was odd as we always have before) and went inside the post office.
Just before deciding to get rid of the smoke and go into the post office, the group of young men down the pavement started to row, and the young man who'd stationed himself close to me had the strangest look on his face, as though a prospect was slipping away.
When I got inside and found Paul, I moved my purse and passport to the inner pockets of my jacket. Next time we go to Dundee (or Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, or Montrose, or...) I am NOT wearing a rucksack. Which of course annoys me. For one thing, the rucksack is very handy for hauling lunches and water and purses and passports and jackets and facial tissue and napkins and camera bags. All of the things a newbie-in-town likes to carry (camera, maps) and all of the things a Scottish housewife likes to carry (purse, tissue, lunch, water, jackets, brollies, etc). It makes much more sense to carry one's food nowadays with the hygiene of most establishments being highly to question; I like my creature comforts of jackets and tissues and brollies...
But all that makes one a target. I knew I'd got off easy with that beggar-I was smoking a cigarette and it was clear I had things in my rucksack-poor and downtrodden I didn't look in my NorthFace jacket and rucksack.
It's back to money belts and concealed carry for me. I hate that. The yobs have made getting out too unpleasant.
Not to mention the spare thirty pounds weight I'm hauling around-if I had to protect myself I wouldn't be able to.
What a lovely life, eh, to be having to think "Could I fight these guys off?" No one should have to do that, and every one is lately. I read a number of horror stories this past week, and more are coming to the surface of what the regular people went through down in the riot struck areas of England last week-people pulled from their cars and beaten, mothers attacked going home from work and the library, whole families trapped in their homes as the mobs swirled through their streets setting wheely bins and cars and the occasional house, on fire.
No-one was spared if they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The older man who died after being savaged by a gang during the riot-he was standing up for the British values of his growing-up, the values I grew up with, btw, and tried to raise my son to have as well.
Oh hell, no-one was spared period. People who thought they were safe in their homes were broken in on by the mobs in some areas, diners were attacked and robbed. People had to leap from their burning homes because a gang of feral animals decided they were 'gonna show the rich and the government and the police that we can do what we want". Swear before God, that is what the little bastards are ALL saying-"We can do what we want, and the government ain't takin' proper care of us so we have to take what we want." Even the middle class, the rich, and the advantaged who have been arrested red-handed robbing, looting and vandalising.
I'm definitely out of shape two weeks away from 55. I need to get back into shape for a lot of reasons not the least of those reasons being I want to go back to Dundee and not be afraid.
We cut through the Howff Cemetery without stopping to look at any of the 16th century tombstones, hurried through our shopping and got the bus back to home as soon as possible. I don't think we'll be venturing to Dundee for a while.