Wednesday morning and I’m leaving London for scheduled meetings in Singapore, not to get away from the riots. The drive to the airport through the western suburbs is clear and quiet, with people walking their dogs and the roses in full bloom in the summer sunshine. Still there is an air of menace everywhere, with the car radio relaying all the overnight news of the riots interspersed with traffic updates as roads are being re-opened.
The ICIS office in the south London suburb of Sutton although not in the thick of it, is still too close for comfort. Many of the ICIS staff came in to work on Tuesday through scenes of devastation. My colleague Nigel put some disturbing photos on our internal Yammer of broken windows and burnt out streets.
“Buildings smouldering; streets cordoned off; debris everywhere. London August 2011 on my way to work. Landmark buildings destroyed last night as looters (only kids?) targeted Croydon,” he wrote.
Other colleagues in south London were yammering about violent incidents, shop closures, clouds of smoke, children being sent home early from nursery and police warnings. Twitter was down due to the volume of traffic.
Our office workers on Tuesday afternoon were advised to leave early and take laptops home in preparation for home-working if necessary. On my drive home through Kingston on Tuesday evening, shops were shut early and there was a heavy police presence.