Yesterday, quite early on, there were sums going on in our house. Let's see, 9 o'clock, one and half miles, say five minutes a mile absolute tops...
Just before 9.10 we were in the road outside, ready to cheer on those running in the Ealing half-marathon.
My reaction would usually be to cook one, or to head up to the pizza restaurant which (slightly unexpectedly) does decent eggs Benedict of a Saturday morning. ChrisC insisted we should head to The Walpole, a small, scarlet-painted greasy spoon at the other side of Ealing. We've been meaning to investigate rumours of its greatness for some time but... well...
( Don't tell anyone, will you? But I'm not that excited about fry-ups. )
I'm pretty sure that Hallowe'en didn't used to be such big news. My cub pack always had a Hallowe'en party, and dressing up usually involved being either a sheet-ghost or a binbag-witch. I certainly don't remember the bought costumes that most of last night's micro-horrors were sporting. And we had to make our lanterns out of turnips which - if you've never done it - is bloody hard work. Also, get up several hours before we went to bed, etc. Does anyone bob for apples these days? Or is it all about the trick-or-treating? Round Hallowe'en we used to get people (either in costume, or with lanterns) calling at the door asking for "a penny for Hallowe'en". There was no option of a trick.
( Nosferatu @ St Barnabas' Church, Pitshanger Lane )
When did this madness involving an abdomen come in? Am I right to blame it largely on Calvin? That's Calvin of "and Hobbes" fame, not the guy who founded Calvinism, who probably thought playing the snow was far too frivolous.
I also note that, in the absence of coal being readily available, the go-to objects for snow-eyes are plastic supermarket milk bottle tops. Mostly semi-skimmed, though I did see one wall-eyed snowman who was full-fat on his left-hand side. Carrots are still big news in the snow-nose world.
( Photos, 8am )
And my favourite tweet from last night... someone posted "I've just heard the clock tower is on fire in #Leicester. Is this true?" The response came shortly after from @leicsclocktower: No I am not.
The hall is on Pitshanger Lane, which is about ten minutes north of where I live. The Lane is a lovely shopping street of almost entirely independent traders; there is a Co-Op at either end, but other than that I think every shop is an independent. It's got a proper butcher, and greengrocer, and fishmonger, and so on, and a really good offy, and a deli which opens late at weekends and I like it a lot. At around 6 this evening, one of the painters knocked off and left. She phoned in when she got home: don't go down the Lane if you can help it.
Don't go down the Lane? Surely somewhere as pleasant and civilised and, let's be honest, massively middle-class as the Lane can't possibly be indulging in rioters? Apparently Helen had been tipped off by Tiff-from-the-butchers: all the traders who were still open were closing up due to crowds of youths gathering on the streets. Someone still in the hall very sensibly pointed out that, from inside, we could easily see a steady stream of double-decker E2s whizzing by. As long as the buses were still running, there clearly couldn't be that much going on along there.
And, it seems, she was right. I left half an hour or so ago, and the Lane seemed deserted. Presumably said youths had either dispersed, or turned out to be much exaggerated. Or were, in fact, revealed to be the local Brownie pack on a nature walk.
So yes, the Lane was quiet. My walk home was quiet. The roads are quiet. As I let myself into the block I live in, another resident anxiously enquired "what's it like out there?" Well, to be honest, pretty dead. There is a constant, low, background wail of sirens in the distance; I can't really make a sensible guess of how distant. Or, to be honest, what they're up to. Maybe the police are charging about all blues and twos to try and keep any potential troublemakers guessing. I can hear, but not see, what I think is a helicopter, somewhere in the direction of Perivale.
A friend locally reported that the shops in Ealing centre were all shutting up early this evening, and that there was a large and obvious police presence. I'm hoping we're in for a quiet evening.
Incidentally, if anyone wishes to keep abreast of events and hasn't discovered this blog, I commend it to you:
(Although it's becoming increasingly inaccurately named as it expands to cover a wider and wider area.)
The Broadway doesn't seem to be in too bad a state at all given some of last night's YouTube footage. I can't work out which bits of it were on fire, nothing looked particularly burned. Most of the roads are open again. The area towards Ealing Green is still cordoned off, and seems to be the worst hit with tales of burned out buildings and cars, but I didn't think the efforts of the police and council would be improved by another gawker so stayed away.
Visage, the hairdresser I pictured earlier, now has all the broken glass knocked out of its frames, and is trading as usual with its frontage open to the street. The daytime cafés are all also churning out teas and breakfasts. Pizza on the Green is dusting itself off and getting ready for tonight. A vicar of unknown denomination seemed to be popping in and out asking if the shopkeepers were ok and needed any help. Tesco is closed, but to be honest it doesn't look very looted - it's a tiny Tesco Metro that sells nothing other than food, and it certainly seems to have a large, intact-looking display of wine right by the door.
There are a lot or reporters and photographers around. Possibly "riot in genteel, leafy Ealing" is a better headline than "Brixton at it again". It certainly doesn't seem the worst-hit area, and the council and the businesses affected all seem to have the resources to get it straightened out again extremely quickly. I'm not trying to belittle the people who had a terrible time last night, but I think my summary is "could have been a lot worse".
Ealing is still there. I've just been out to check.
( Battered, but present. )
( Photos, 8am today )
I was considering asking for time off work (I'm working at home today) to go and join the #riotcleanup in Ealing, but it's advertised as meeting at "The Horse". Does anyone have any idea what that might be? I'm not aware of any Horse & Jockey, Horse & Groom, or similar equine pubs. There's the statue of the horsie down the side of the Broadway centre, but I very much doubt you can get to that at present.