I'm sure by now many readers will have seen the appalling riots that took place a few days ago in my home town, London, and elsewhere in England. The authorities are dealing with the problem; Parliament even sat today in a rare emergency session (during the Summer Recess, no less) to discuss the matter. Residents in the affected parts of town have responded by cleaning up their communities.
The violence is confined to the cities; the small town where I live is completely safe. Watching the live television coverage of the looting, it was clear that only certain stores were being targeted for robbery. I looked in vain to see if any stationers had been raided. Consumer electronics, branded sportswear and training shoes, jewelry and alcohol were obviously high on the wish-lists of the looters, but not stationery. There were no people filmed with arm-fulls of lever-arch files or pockets stuffed with Staedtlers. Palimpsest, living closer to the action, confirmed as much with this post about a local branch of Ryman which was unscathed.
As she says, "a riot is a complex beast" and I'll not offer any explanations about it here. It now emerges, though, as the first defendants appear before the courts, that many of those arrested and charged for alleged crimes were not feckless youths but in fact people who should have known better, such as a teaching assistant, university graduates and even a graphic designer: the kind of people for whom stationery might have been an attractive target.