The Market Estate, Islington, days before its demolition. From my Flickr Photostream.
The most moving thing I've read in weeks, courtesy of the London Evening Standard. This piece, a look inside London's gang culture by Tony Thompson, is largely the Standard's usual lawnorder handwringing and scaremongering. But, touring the ganglands of Croydon with a young guide called Radar, Thompson captures an amazing moment:
"I love my ends," he says, his voice thick with emotion. "I can't explain it. People say, 'How can you love a street or a block of flats?' but it's where I come from. It's my roots. Everything that's ever happened to me happened right here. No one can take that away from me, ever. I won't let anyone take it away."
Beautiful. This is civic pride - an earnest attempt to take pride in something, at any rate. It puts a new complexion on the gangs and territorial gang warfare as systems of belonging. And Radar's love for his neighbourhood seems infinitely more genuine than a political establishment that dishes out ideas like Britishness days, "community payback" and national youth service. There's something here that's potentially a powerful force for good, a voice being drowned out by foghorn demonisation that goes almost unchallenged in the media.
(An aside: Radar is/was a member of the "Don't Say Nothing" gang which, by a strange coincidence, I've mentioned in print before, while reviewing China Mieville's book The City and the City.)