8/8 One Year On: ANDREW DICKINSON, from South Croydon, recalls the shock and anger that he felt a year ago, and how some of the goods stolen during the looting were discovered close to home
On the night of August 8, I was looking out of our landing window towards the town centre. It was quite a cloudy grey sky that night. I became aware of what i thought were fast-moving clouds. The more I looked the more I realised that it wasn’t clouds, but smoke. “Who’s having a burn up?” I thought.
I went to the end of my close and could see dark plumes of smoke coming from town and decided to walk down the hill to get a better idea of where it was coming from. After a few minutes my phone rang and it was a friend asking me if I had the TV on.
I explained what I was doing and he said, “That’s Reeves Corner going up in flames. It’s all over Sky News and there are riots and looting in West Croydon.”
I rang my wife and daughter and told them to switch to a news channel and they were horrified at what they saw. I could now see the orange glow between the buildings as I looked in the direction of Reeves Corner.
I was now angry and felt useless and imagined that this is how residents must have felt when the Luftwaffe had dropped bombs on the town.
My wife rang back and said that they were on the hill coming to join me I advised against it but they were soon with me.
I said we would walk to the end of the road, no further. At the end of the road we met some youngsters who said that they were on their way home as the town was under attack and not to go on to South End as Richer Sounds and Cycle King were being looted.
We immediately made our way back as the trouble was very close to home. I wished that there was something that I could have down to restore order. My anger and frustration was increasing as my town was being destroyed by these feral animals.
We got home and followed events on TV, Twitter and Facebook and saw the destruction of Reeves Corner. I was in tears for part of the night believing it as part of a bad dream. My daughter was upset as she read that the Whitgift had been looted, she’d spent many a happy shopping trip there from a toddler to a teen.
Next day my daughter and I were keen to get in to town to see the damage for ourselves. I felt sick in my stomach at Reeves Corner and London Road. Again, it all seemed surreal as if a director was going to shout “cut” and the props and scenery taken down and order restored.
At the weekend our neighbours knocked to say that they had found brand new bikes stashed at the end of their garden in the hedges. These were from Cycle King down the road, and it was at that moment that I realised how very, very close to home it had all been.
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