The worst thing about looting (apart from the obvious illegality of it and the fact that you never get a bag ) is that as soon as you leave the shop at pace, you immediately invalidate any guarantee or warranty rights for the products you have just pilfered and so you end up at home with a pair of Converse runners that you’ve nicked without checking to see if both of them are the same size. Or if the 52-inch plasma telly which you and your mates have just carried down the High Street is actually HD or just HD Ready and therefore no good for sitting back and watching your mates rioting on Sky News when you can’t make out the faces. Oh, the hazards of looting. And here were we all this week thinking that these people who looted are actually at home enjoying the fruits of their labours. You see, looting is so spontaneous. It is like impulse buying, but just sped up by about 10 times.
Looting makes great telly for horrified and shocked watchers of Sky News. People using tellies to watch other people stealing tellies. I’ve never seen so many people on our Facebook and Twitter sites saying they were shocked and horrified; they weren’t shocked and horrified by the shootings in Norway .We can switch off images of starving children dying before our eyes in the dust of Somalia, their bones protruding through their skins as they perish in the dust, their eyes searching for the hope that someone somewhere in the world can help them, but won’t. Yet we are SHOCKED and HORRIFIED when we see people stealing tellies from shops that we know. Oh My God, they’ve just violated Miss Selfridge! Look at that man with the hoodie and the laptop. Not meant to go together are those two. A juxtaposition of two societies and two cultures. Pass the Chateau Neuf du Pape so we can remain horrified without missing a moment.
Here we are, members of a society that plays its part in the game that says there are “must have” items without which life is not fulfilled. You must have the feck-off TV with surround sound, you must have the latest smartphone, the latest pair of Converse runners, the latest laptop ...and then we create the type of society in which people are unable to afford to have any of that stuff legimately. And are horrified when we see others go out to get it. It was interetsing that Waterstones in Clapham was the one shop left untouched.
We don’t really do riots or revolts here in the west. We don’t do public displays of disaffection or random acts of carnage. If the truth be told, what would be the point of rioting and looting in the streets of the city centre here in Galway if it was a 52-inch plasma telly you wanted? The most they could hope for would be the odd bit of jewellery, mobile phones which they would use to organise other riots, and of course, runners from the dozens of running shoe shops...or trainers as they are called by the people who use them for anything but.
How come we don’t do rioting or looting here in this country? I suppose the main reason is that the opportunity to do so does not arise with any regularity so therefore we don’t know what we’d do if suddenly we were presented with the opportunity to nick something that seconds before we didn’t really have any desire to purchase.
We would like to think that we would behave impeccably and most of us probably would. Lots of us grew up without much but never felt the need to steal a pair of shoes when we wanted to. Remember, there was no principled or racialised cause to this week’s UK looting, just wanton greed, criminality and opportunity.