Sudden explosion of warmth,, shimmering first days of spring.
leave the estate with a load of crew about midday,,
.. walk along the motorway, collection of corrugated hutches, Bow tube,,
loads of people I know hanging about, atmosphere kind of euphoric.. I was in black dress, silver bomber jacket , hair up in a bun..everyone looking hyped like we were going to a party.
Leaving in groups on tube to Kennington.. .the heat intense, a magical feeling. Kept picking people up on the way, every stop , more getting on, Whitechapel, Liverpool street, changing at Moorgate....on the platforms.., Spiral Tribe,, skinheads, lads in overalls and fractal t shirts, that lot from Brixton, punks with mohicans and studded jackets, some of the Italians and French lot from the Pepys.
a massive crew already on the tube and I loved that.
Arrive at Kennington, balmy spring sunshine and a kind of carnival atmosphere. Shimmering gold sky, the air is scented pink.. blossom already coming.. Soundsystem from one of the LCC blocks, Snap! I've got the Power and Dub be good to me, Beats international. Sounded so good, loud like that.
Magical and warm.. Rastas from St Agnes, loads of people , kids, old people everyone, accents coming from everywhere..the excitement is palapable.. could tell something much bigger about to happen, we all knew it, there's been talk for weeks, and there's been a glimpses as well, one in Brixton, one in Hackney, one in Islington, leading up to the big one...
Everyone knew it was going to kick off today...loads of mates from Yorkshire, Scotland, all over turning up with kitbags, laundry bags, stuff scattered all over.
Went to bed night before knowing it would go up. Writing everything down.. the feeling of it, knowing something massive was about to happen.. The kick off in Brixton and the one in Hackney, when they were setting the rate, they were just prequels. The thrill of violence , loved that more than anything.
That scene in Hackney had been fucking brilliant, when Radio rentals got looted and we helped an old lady hoist a tv into a tesco shopping trolley so she could wheel it back to the Pembury estate.
There had been nothing but talk of this for weeks,, but now, well you wouldn't know the darkness was brooding, not with the sunshine and the families and the coachloads coming in from all over the country enjoying a day out.
Kennington Park,... felt a ruffle of anxiety, had can of beer and a dab of speed...
saw more crew from Teviot, more people coming up off the tube,,
loads of people we knew straight away, including known trouble makers.. (ha ha ) there has been loads in papers about this, and that is what we are getting called. Saw loads of people we'd seen at Class War meetings in Stoke Newington, older , hard looking blokes. People had cans and were in a good mood.
March set off , it was big but a lot of us didn't bother joining it. On the march there was no indication of trouble.. no particular grouping could be called hardcore, black flags but not solid black.. anarchists were there, for the chance of a kick off,, the main thing...but circling, not in main march.
Everyone knew it was going to erupt.. everyone knew before the day..talking about it for days on end. Weeks on end. People I knew, hardcore trouble makers.. couple of thousand together, no plan, just circling, finding each other..
March got to Downing street.. to Whitehall... saw no indication of trouble.. we positioned ourselves,, people from our estate, people we met on way,,, and that bloke with the speed. Loads of boozing, cans passed round.
Steps of St Martins,, in distance Downing street, top of Whitehall, sticks and placards being thrown, didn't see mounted police.. lot of people there,
met someone on steps said most of our lot in Strand,, more sticks coming from there..
about 2.30-3pm.. didn't hear any speeches from podium, minds focused elsewhere,,
whole of square full ,tense and angry crowd.
Managed to get down side of St Martins.. got to the confluence of Whitehall and Strand,, could still see placards thrown but didn't look serious, not worth checking out, then police vans with armour, grilles down, advancing towards us.. nearly got to Whitehall, when suddenly realised surrounded by several thousand people. Somebody I was with tried to prise grille off van, then vans tried to back away,, trapped, kicked and booted, bricks were fired at them, it was as if someone had lit the fuse went bang, then riot just went up.
Made way back to Traflagar square, tried to get to St Martins, couldn't, truncheons, barriers thrown, quickly, police unprepared,, severely undermanned...barriers being thrown, bricks, bottles, scaffolding...windows put in, shops looted, police withdrawn,,
corner Whitehall and Strand..
crowd sounds, thousands, cacophany.. people closely packed together, police had been dispersed, smashing windows looting shops..
people on scaffolding, throwing at police..them taking casualites..
suddenly S amidst all that, the chaos and the smoke and the fire, running into a line of police, a crew of them.. throwing sticks and cans...
he is so sexy, couldn't stop thinking about other night.
Then they got cavalry in.. elsewhere.. detached from main group.. loads of people fighting police in the square.. police sending in the horses.. to what avail don't know, crowd just parted, didn't know what they were doing... momentum.. just spread crowds out further, suddenly lost S,, in that moment... just gone..in that instant...
found myself top of St Martins... one of our lot carrying round police riot shield, a lot of people doing that because police backed out, nutters coalsesed,, crowd absolutely hostile..
poll tax demonstrators, families and disabled applauded
top of St Martins lane outside National Gallery, Chandos with riot shield,, loads of people I knew.. no cops anywhere.. so we just advanced up Charing Cross road, putting through windows, bins in streets, Leicester Square station, said let's put barricade up, cars across road. In distance see smoke rising,, could see it was a massive building alight, and all stuff around it, portakabins above ground level on fire..
now any poice vehicles we saw got attacked immediately, police running for lives.. put up barricade, Leicester square, police didn't respond, driven out of area, needed to conslidate and get reinforcements, by this time we had taken control. Hippodrome attacked, once inside , said what are we going to do, so much happening...woman in hysterics screaming you're ruining our cause,, but she got completly ignored...
Charing Cross road, Covent Garden , shops looted , books, stamps, postcards littering ground,,
cars on fire, car showroom, smashed up.. group that I was with... talking hundreds..,several groups of hundreds doing what we were doing
Covent Garden, Royal Opera House attacked people coming out, scaffolding poles, putting through windows,, looting bottles of whisky, high on adrenaline, inflamed with booze...
got to a shop on corner of Endell street.. put windows through , deciding what do next, lets go and fight police, found one, special constabulary, looked like Benny Hill, with glasses,, chubby, got a couple of slaps,, could have been killed, we had him as a prisoner, didn't know what to do with him, made him run off, threw bottles at him, bottles smashing.. booze spraying up...
we swerved into Covent Garden piazza.. this crew was more than 400 people, .. plenty of them knew before,, just came together, experienced rioters turning up together at same place, chemistry. Got to piazza, putting windows through, didn't care, see faces of assitants, frozen no one tried to stop us, no police.. in piazza saw six coppers, two lads on ground, trying to arrest them,
we attacked the coppers, they ran away, lads dearrested,, been nicking stuff out of windows..
people come up from Strand..
S just reappeared,grabbed me, wrote address on my hand with marker pen...
nobody spoke to anyone, just shouting,
most round here not looters, wanted to burn cars and fight.
Near Traflagar square, cars in showroom on fire,,, police in sight,, we threw more bottles and bricks at them, munitions lying around, bins going through windows, Stringfellows smashed, kept on move... we dispersed into crowds and remerged, maybe about 40 mins later, old bill had more on ground, facing hopeless task, loads of people pouring out of stations, Leciester square, football hooligans, stations still open, people coming out of tube getting straight into it, knew why they were there..
up to Charing cross road.. it was just looters then, Denmark Street, people running away with amps and guitars,, Tottenham Court Road, electrical shops, cameras, video cameras..
kind of wandered around in a daze,, 5 o clock, boiling hot all day...
rioters down to shirt sleeves..
Oxford street, Soho Square skip on fire ,
Shops looted, dummies taken out of windows just standing on the street.
In Lyall street China town, group of dossers had been looting ,completley drunk making their own dosser barricade plastic bags and bins in road, nothing going on there but making barricade anyway..
Charing Cross looted shops, hand to hand fighting by now, chaos.
On own, impossible fleeting glance , someone you know, catch glimpse and then disappear again..
Could see police vans in distance people not attacking police just looting now, things thown in street, clothes, chairs, amazing.
Hung around for a while, lost everyone now,, then saw one of the blokes from the CW lot in Stoke Newington,
wasn't in the mood to leave, wanted to walk around until saw S again but thought chances of that were unlikely now.. thought about what he said, the few gasps I could remember...
there were plumes of smoke rising.. the bloke wasn't in mood for going home either, was buzzing as much as I was, up for more walking around.