This piece was written in August 2011, just after the 2011 London riots.
I don’t want to keep harking back to the riots, because I think most of us yearn to move on from those awful few days when, to paraphrase Metro, Western civilisation briefly teetered dizzily on the rim of the moral abyss and God and his saints truly slept – I still have horrible memories of walking to the post office on Greenwich High Road at 3 p.m., and finding it closed – but… yesterday afternoon, cycling home past the southern wall of the park after a short excursion east to try to get my head round Plumstead, I came across a worrying notice sellotaped to a lamp post close by Blackheath Gate.
“Ned”, it said, “still missing”.
Ned, it turned out, was a five-year-old black labrador who’d recently gone AWOL from his home in SE3. A very sad state of affairs, of course, and I certainly don’t want to add to the distress of his owners in their time of tribulation, but… I wonder if they’re telling us the whole story? Because Ned, the notice said, was “last sighted running past Matalan in Lewisham towards Deptford”.
Oh, Ned! You silly, foolish dog! Were you just caught up in the heat of the moment? Did the adrenaline that pulsed through your daft doggy veins as you saw the smashed glass, wide-open doors, and hysterical, wild-eyed crowds, cause you to drop your moral compass like it was some old chewed tennis ball and leap, teeth bared, for the bright immoral frisbee of desire? Or was it the taunts and jeers of your peers that goaded you? Did a streetwise Staffie Cross from New Cross Gate mock your Blackheath accent, call you a poodle, deride you for not joining in? Are you, as I write, shivering in some squalid cellar at the foot of Tanners Hill, hungry and scared, fearful of every passing siren… and still, even now, not quite understanding what in the name of Scooby Doo possessed you to seize the seventies-print halter-neck playsuit and a three-pack of Pringle sports socks that lie crumpled uselessly between your trembling paws?
Come home, Ned. You need to face the consequences of your actions, yes, but your family still love you, and will forgive you. In truth, they blame themselves.