What would cause you to protest or riot for something?
Apart from the false imprisonment of my children – and possibly my husband, if I was in a good mood – nothing. I’m British: I don’t do apologetic complaint, never mind protest. I write a strongly worded letter and feel much better for it.
I bumped into a riot once, by accident. I can’t say I liked it. As a teenager, I went to Manchester to audition for the Manchester Youth Theatre with a friend. It was the time of the nationwide riots against something or other. I can’t remember what, but I bet it had hatred for Mrs Thatcher at the heart of it. We had a summer of exploding protests, when staid young men and women became screaming thugs for the afternoon. We are seeing something similar at the moment in Bristol, because of Tesco. It’s not quite the breaking of the unions or the poll tax, but a supermarket too close to your back yard is certainly a reason to lose all common sense, I’m sure.
We had been to the auditions and decided to visit the Arndale Centre for some retail therapy (or ‘shopping’, as it was called in Days of Yore when I wurra lass). As we walked up somewhere, a screaming, running gang of young gentlemen ran down, straight at us. I grabbed my friend’s hand and dragged him onto the nearest bus, going anywhere. When we got to anywhere, we had to walk back again, to catch the train home. No shopping. What a wasted opportunity.
Trains and a long walk featured once again in my teens. I went with different friends to Liverpool. Plenty of shopping and no riots – Scouse youth being better behaved than Mancunian youth. So much shopping was done, we were late for the train, asked which was ours, and jumped on it just as the doors closed.
I think I was in charge of the travel on that day as well, which explains why we ended up in Widnes instead of Runcorn. We explained to the man in charge that we had been directed to the wrong train and he said well, in that case, he wouldn’t fine us, but we had to get off there and we couldn’t get on another train without buying a ticket. Did I mention we had been shopping all afternoon? We didn’t have the fare for one of us, never mind three.
Did I mention this was in Days of Yore when I wurra lass? No mobile phones to call parents who didn’t own cars to not fetch us.
Fortunately – fortune being a relative term – Widnes is right next door to Runcorn. All we had to do was walk home. Loaded with shopping bags. In heels. A mere three hours or so. I was ready to start a riot.