Please Stop

I have lots of sewing to occupy my mind: two projects for friends, plus Gertie’s Bombshell dress. Lots to think about. But tonight I am entirely distracted by this:

My Cycle Ride Home

You may have heard about recent events in London, all prompted by a shooting that happened down the road from me. Last night, the looting hit Walthamstow High Street. Yes, home of my beloved market that I’ve celebrated in countless blog posts such as these here and here.

Tonight, I cycled home from work with the noise of police sirens and police helicopters filling my ears. Best to have a quiet night in with my sewing, I thought. Then I saw the cloud of smoke up ahead, looked down and watched my wheels crunch over broken glass. Too late to swerve.

This photo is in Hackney, East London, the place where I first lived when I moved down to London nearly 20 years ago. The East End – an area that has been unremittingly overlooked and sometimes mocked.

‘Why would you want to live there?’ people used to ask me.

‘Because I don’t have any money,’ I’d reply. It was cheap and it was the first place that allowed me to call it ‘home’ in this big city.

From the moment I moved to Hackney I’d hear rumours of regeneration, but I never saw the evidence. So much remained neglected, ignored, despised. Yet my experience taught me that there was a vibrant community here.

Fast forward many years and the 2012 Olympics were announced. Millions of pounds poured into this part of London. At last! Money was being spent where it was sorely needed and reputations could start to be polished. We were still polishing. The final bits were being put into place. We were so nearly there.

I don’t know if the above is opportunistic violence or a deeper symptom of social unrest and I’m not going to speculate here. But someone is trashing my home.

I hope they stop soon.

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45 Responses to Please Stop

  1. Elizabeth says:

    So sorry to hear of this. I hope the unrest calms down soon for your home. Stay safe!

  2. Roisin says:

    I hope they stop too. In one of the poorest areas of London it is the poorest people that will suffer the most and that’s the really sickening thing about all of this. I hope you stay safe and that it stops soon x

  3. Sandy says:

    This is just horrible, and I’m so sorry your city has to endure it. It made me want to cry when I watched the video. I hope things improve quickly.

  4. Suze says:

    This is horrendous – I hope all you and yours stay safe. Like you say, it is very difficult to tell to what extent this is a carnage filled reaction to these communities being marginalised and ignored for so many years, but ultimately that isn’t likely to be fixed while these people (some of whom are no doubt opportunistic thugs) give so many people so much cause to dismiss them as all being hardened criminals. I hope it stops soon too… This isn’t going to fix anything…

  5. Lisa says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and your community Karen.These are really scary times x

  6. Kirsty says:

    This is completely disgusting, utter mindless violence over an event where the truth hasn’t even been revealed yet. I hope that it stops soon and that all involved are forced to do community service to restore everything that they have damaged. I feel really sorry for all of the people’s property that has been damaged when they have nothing to do with it. Stay safe Karen!

  7. I can’t believe what I see each time I check the news. I too have a soft spot for Walthamstow, it’s where my late father used to work and he used to tell us so much about the area, the friendly locals, the market, etc, etc.

    It’s scary how it’s travelled too. South London, more in East London and even coming out to near where I work in Cheshunt and Waltham Cross. I have a friend in Enfield trying to sell a flat which is now guarded by the police! What lengths will they go to and what are they really achieving by doing this?

    I really hope you keep safe. My thoughts go to all who are caught up in this.

  8. lazystitcher says:

    Stay safe, chickadee. Things are pretty quiet here in Islington with everything closed but still waiting to here from my sister who’s heading home to her flat just off Broadway Market. Fingers crossed for everyone tonight x

  9. PammyJ says:

    Oh no! I’ve been hoping this wasn’t near you. 🙁
    Praying things calm down and you (along with all those you hold dear) are able to stay safe.

  10. Mercy says:

    Fingers crossed it all stops soon, stay safe

  11. Sarah says:

    Gosh, that must be really scary – you be careful….

    S x

  12. Felicity from Down Under says:

    My heart sank when the news first broke here as I used to live at Stoke Newington. As ever, it seems to be the actions of a few causing needless grief and terror for many. I echo what others have said: stay safe and take care.

  13. laura says:

    I’m very sorry you’re so close. I live in the south and it seems to be spreading here as well. Keep safe!

  14. Law says:

    Stay home and stay safe Karen. This whole thing is almost unreal. I don’t understand what’s keeping the momentum going with this, watching BBC news now, and seeing the destruction in croydon. it’s crazy!

  15. Portia says:

    Karen, I feel so sad and angry about this. I just can’t believe my eyes. I feel disgusted and ashamed that my fellow “citizens” could visit such destruction and fear on their neighbours. These are truly dark days.

  16. Marie says:

    What a heartfelt post Karen. I’ve been watching the sad yet surreal developments with a heavy heart. I hope it ends soon and that you and fellow Londoners manage to stay safe in the meantime.

  17. Thanks for all your care and wishes, everyone. Am staggered how much things have already moved on since I wrote this.

  18. Hello Karen, I’m an “often reader” but not an “often commenter” but just had to write when I saw this because I love your cheery posts and am so sorry that your part of the world (which you write so enthusiastically about) is being damaged. My brother’s in London Fields so I’ve heard directly how surreal recent events are…like him, I request you stay safe, and get tucked up in bed with a pattern book, or a blog reader (although I skipped the pattern book bit for my brother, it would have just earnt me a bemused look!)

    Ceri x

  19. Miss Katie says:

    it’s awful isn’t it? and now it’s spreading all over the UK. I don’t know what these people are trying to prove but this is not the way to do it. Stay safe, I just hope this all ends soon and we can all feel safe in our homes again

  20. Karen, thank you for posting this 🙂
    Recent events in our home town have saddened me greatly 🙁 It upsets me to think of the unfortunate people who have lost their homes, their treasured family treasures and mementos, and the business people who’ve irretreviably lost their livelihoods. It’s all so senseless, selfish and wholly uneccesary. I sincerely hope that the people inciting and instigating these troubles stop, and that all the foolhardy idiots tagging along for the ride who are clearly revelling in the mayhem and anarchy “wake-up and smell the coffee” the people they are hurting are those within ther same communities, families and friends they come from – they are only hurting themselves really.

  21. Debi says:

    Great post Karen! It makes me so upset to see this type of destruction!!!

  22. Hello Karen, I’m an “often reader/not often commenter” but when I saw your post today I just had to write and say how much I enjoy your cheery posts and how sorry I am that your part of the world (which you write so enthusiastically about) is being damaged. My brother’s in London Fields so I have heard directly how surreal recent events are. Like him, I urge you to please stay safe and get tucked up with a good pattern book, or a blog reader (I skipped the pattern book bit when I spoke to my brother…it would have earnt me a bemused look!)

    Ceri x
    (PS second attempt to post this, so please ignore if you get two comments)

  23. Hatty says:

    I first touched down from Manchester in London off the Graham Road and shuttled around between Hackney and Islington for twenty years before finally emigrating. But that’s my beloved stamping ground too. And for the last couple of years that I was in London, I worked in Tottenham, mainly teaching Somali women refugees English off Tottenham High Road. The women were so great and friendly and optimistic and determined in spite of terrible back stories about war and how they ended up in England, and they were working so hard so as to be able to get an education and jobs for themselves, speak to their kids’ teachers, generally fit in. They really hate this stuff. It’s what they are running away from and it really traumatises them when it starts around them again. I really liked working in Tottenham. Loads of people used to greet me in the street – a real rarity in London. And a few hundred young guys, high on destruction can scare the rest of the population half to death, destroy all their feelings of hope and just for kicks – they don’t give a flying **** about the guy that got shot…..I am so frustrated and angry and sad!

  24. Anna says:

    Don’t normally comment but am an avid reader, just wanted to say stay safe Karen, our thoughts are with you. I’m so sorry this is happening to your home and our capital, it’s utterly senseless.

  25. Graca says:

    This must have been a tough post to write and situation to witness on your ride home. I hope it stops soon, stay safe.

  26. Praying for safety and healing!

  27. Brenda says:

    Please be careful and use sound judgement. We have similar things happening here in America. There was some brutal violence in Wisconsin at the state fair. So many people all over the world are angry and frustrated. I adore your blog and your wonderful talent and humor. Stay safe. God bless you.

  28. Laura says:

    Oh, Karen. I’ve been…well…overwhelmed watching the news, and seeing photos from people I know is making it much more real. Oxford’s 60 miles away, but Walthamstow will always be home. Mum’s still there and I practically grew up in Tottenham with my grandparents. It’s just devastating.

    Stay safe, and thank you for such a heartfelt post.

  29. Steph says:

    Good to know that you’re safe. Brixton was a complete mess Monday morning, and I have two punctured tires from all the glass. I can’t believe what’s happening on our own doorsteps.
    Take care of yourself x

  30. PinQueen says:

    How is this going to end? It’s spreading fast and I worry for Leeds and Bradford (home for me) over the next few nights. Lets not forget Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool were effeced last night too, although the media is just reporting London at the moment.
    Stay brave and stay safe Karen

  31. Fatty Bumble says:

    I cant imagine how scary it must be having all this happening so close. Stay safe!

    It makes me furious that these low life scrote bags are ruining the lives and livelihoods of innocent hard working people.
    This is the scum of the country and they’re rising. Bring the army in and start shooting the bastards I say! Or at the very least turn on the water canons. Then they would have something to protest about.

  32. Kristen says:

    It is so awful and difficult. It is really hard to accept that in civil places mob mentality and rioting can still overtake civilised people. My thoughts are with you and your home.

  33. raqskie says:

    Hi Karen, I get so much pleasure from your blog. I have big belly laugh breaks in between writing my thesis. I’m so grateful. thank you. I’ve been thinking of you since I heard the news of the riots. I hope it calms done soon.

  34. Sally says:

    I have only recently discovered your blog since taking up sewing again. You have really inspired me to try my hand a different projects. I thought about you last night as I had an idea that your neighbourhood was near to the rioting. Stay safe Karen and i’m sure we all hope it stops soon.
    Sally x.

  35. Jenny says:

    I can only echo what others have said – stay safe. My thoughts are with you and all those affected by this nightmare. Every day when I think it can’t get any worse – it does. Innocent people, in already difficult times, losing their livelihoods – for what!? Take care.

  36. Lucy says:

    It’s funny isn’t it – I was getting all political and ideological with the rest of them. Yet as soon as I heard that my favourite (one-off) restaurant in the centre of Birmingham has been smashed up, it suddenly took on a much more immediate reality. Echoing to stay safe.

    I’m going to click ‘Post’ before the political brain takes over again.

  37. Lysy says:

    I thought of you when I heard there was violence in Walthamstow. I hope you’re ok and that this horrible situation stops very soon.

  38. oonaballoona says:

    ugh, karen. i’ve read about it and i still can’t quite figure out how it all started, i just hope it’s ended!

  39. Jane says:

    Hi Karen, I echo your thoughts completely. Parts of London were so close to being pulled out of the doldrums, and now it’s just pissed on its chips. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I thought we were safe in suburbia, but no, the mindless violence hit Ealing last night too. It’s just horrific – all we’ve heard today are helicopters and police sirens and the smell of smoke…. as you say, please stop. Stay safe. xxx

  40. PDX Gretchen says:

    My thoughts are with you, Karen. I enjoy so much your cheery posts about your neighborhood and your adventures in the markets. It’s such a shame to see a few people causing so much destruction in so many neighborhoods. Stay safe. I’m praying that this senselessness ends soon.

  41. Roobeedoo says:

    Stay at home. Except… you would never go out. I can’t bear to watch the news. Selfishly, I am just glad my daughter flew home from Hackney on Sunday. Take care, Karen!

  42. Nikki says:

    I am not a great TV watcher and don’t buy newspapers, so was unaware of the scale of this until I actually watched News at 10 last night. It’s terrible mindless violence and the poor people that have lost their homes, fortunately not their lives – for what?! Take care and stay safe.

  43. Helen says:

    As the riots spread, I find myself speechless. It is madness. Stay safe.

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