I thought and still think the riots were a good thing. Riots usually are. Nothing highlights injustice and advances the argument for social change better than a bit of arson and stone throwing. Of course, everyone in authority pretended to be shocked and horrified and the supposed ringleaders got sent to jail, but nothing would ever be quite the same again. The hitherto docile British Asian community had announced it wasn't standing for any more shit. Point made, point taken.
Here's a poem I wrote at the time .
THE SECOND NIGHT
I wake at three to a knock on the door
And lie there quaking. There’s no-one there.
Oh, you can tell- there’s no feel of a person,
No tremble of presence in the ether,
No human vibe. I must have been dreaming.
What I took as a flurry of taps
Was the rattling of the helicopter,
Sweeping in circles above the house,
Watching the trouble that’s happening in Glodwick
This second night.
Last night the nazis
Broke some windows and bashed up a car
With a Pakistani woman in it
And so the young men on the estate,
Pakistanis and Bangladeshis,
Took to the streets, attacked three pubs
Where the nazis were drinking (or so they believed)
And petrol-bombed and bricked the ranks
Of heavily armoured riot police
Till dawn. They’re sick of being dissed
When my pulse has slowed
To something like normal I leave the bed
And go to the window and look about
And there’s the chopper behind the trees,
A tiny, brilliant constellation,
Wheeling, with its searchlight beaming,
Down through drifting cloud or smoke,
To where the fight for respect is happening
Up on the hill. But our street is empty,
Grey and eerie. If I squint down
At an angle I can see the space
In front of our door where there’s nobody stood.