Is it a sign of things to come in the uncertain times we live in that, when I saw a Police van parked directly in front of the entrance to our local tube station, I hesitated before entering. I felt myself hold back, just for a second, and it seriously upset me.
In all the fifteen years I’ve lived in London I’ve never stopped living my life because of fear – I’ve deliberately kept clear of certain busy places at particular times because I don’t like huge crowds, but never because of fear. I’ve been here during terrorist attacks, and along with many other Londoners have always just kept calm and carried on, vigilant yet undefeated.
But today it wasn’t the threat of potential terrorist activity that held me back, it was more an awareness of a growing unease across the population as a whole. People are becoming more and more desperate and angry – angry at out-of-touch politicians consistently making decisions that are divisive, politicians who are then highly critical of increasing divisions in society and blame the people rather than reassess their policies.
People who have the least power but the most need are tired not only of constantly struggling but also of being dismissed as unimportant by successive governments who dangle them like puppets, unwilling players in their vanity project political games. This is how riots begin – anger leading to unrest that quickly becomes more and more heated until it all boils over and spills onto our streets, a conflagration of frustration.
Recently I’ve felt that sense of overheated danger spark ominously in the air again, electrifyingly charged, crisp and crackling close to the surface in some public spaces – and it was my awareness of this air of unease that stopped me in my tracks yesterday. It passed quickly enough, and I carried on with my day as usual. But just for that split-second moment, I hesitated, and that hesitation worries me…