Flaming hell. Literally. I leave you – yes, you out there – to look after the country while I’m away on hols for two weeks. And I return to find the place looted and torched. Worse still, the hoodlums hadn’t the courtesy to burn Basildon off the map or raze my health centre to the ground, which I did find something of a disappointment as I drove to work on my first day back.
So it’s been a return to the drudgery of the GP coalface by day – and to the desolation of televised marauding mobs by night. And, yes, it’s been horrific. As a student, and junior doctor, I lived in many of the areas of London that have been affected. And I can honestly say that I never smashed windows or set fire to things, not even when really angry and drunk, like I was after unfairly receiving a ‘C’ in anatomy in my second year.
But what’s even worse than the sickening violence and pillaging is the anticipation of hand-wringing sociologists inevitably trying to rationalise and mitigate this anarchy. True, it wasn’t all bad. After all, many of the disenfranchised cycled to their places of mayhem, which is, at least, an environmentally friendly way of rioting – and they ransacked some organic food shops, too, which suggests a more health-aware type of hooligan.
Let’s be honest, though. This was simply feral youth fuelled by testosterone, drugs, booze and anti-social networks looking for a fun night out, and doing what comes naturally to those in an ‘entitled society’ with a mob mentality rather than a civic conscience. And it didn’t help having a media relaying a rolling, 24 hour Riotwatch, emphasising that the UK was being policed by one community support officer armed with a water pistol.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing, in surgery, any blinged-up yoof with burns on his hands and a back strain from ‘lifting’. Because I’ll be absolutely delighted to break confidentiality and shop him to the local plod. But not before I’ve done a totally unnecessary rectal examination and rifled his pockets while his back’s turned, the little bastard.
And if you are unlucky enough to find yourself caught up in a riot, head straight for the nearest bookshop – because, apparently, the looting scumbags leave those alone. Obvious when you think about it.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex