Before the London Riots – England in the Good Old Days

I moved from England to Australia in November 2007 because I wanted a better future for my daughter, Elizabeth, who was 3 1/2 years old at the time. I was born in England, England is my country. Like all countries, it has changed an enormous amount in the last 50 years.

Unfortunately, a lot of those changes have not been for the good.

So four years ago I felt the time was right to leave and our family were lucky enough to qualify for PR in Australia, thanks to my wife’s work experience and qualifications. So we jumped at the chance; we could both imagine a future England in which we didn’t want our daughter to live.

It seems that future is now.

But this is not an “I told you so” post. I have been as shocked as the rest of the world by what has been going on in London and a few of the other major cities of England.

This week I completed my first ever Australian census, so I am now officially an Australian statistic with the ABS. Next year I hope to become an Australian citizen along with the rest of my family. Ultimately, we want to live here for the rest of our lives.

With the events of this week, I can’t see that viewpoint ever changing.

I’m sure there will be many a debate as to what has gone wrong in England. By the way, it is just England, it’s not Great Britain. At the time of writing, there appears to have been no disturbances at all in Ireland, Wales or Scotland. It’s an English thing. So I think headlines about “Britain burning” are a little misleading.

Anyway, there will be many a debate about what has gone wrong back in England and I do have my own views, of course, although I won’t be airing them here, because I write about life in Australia. But I do want to send my best wishes to the good people (they are still the majority) of England. I do hope, also, that my friends and family are safe and well.

Time for the Friday video.

Today I have a video for the rioters. Maybe they can watch it on their recently looted netbooks or whatever. It’s about life in England before computers, Bling, Gameboys, Playstations, mobile phones and hoodies. What’s that? You can’t imagine such a time?

No, I thought not. Too busy contributing so little and destroying so much, I imagine.

I’d like to thank my dad for the footage, the following film was shot in the 60s using his 8mm thingamebob. I am very lucky to have over five hours of this stuff, here’s a little over 3 minutes of it. I would also like to thank my older brother and two sisters in advance, in the hope that they don’t kill me for putting some of this stuff online.

England in the good old days.

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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • alexandra September 19, 2012, 5:33 pm |

    Im an idiot! Ignore what I said! I feel like crawling up behind a rock in shame!

    I was away aaaaaalllllll summer and truly thought this was the reason the riots happened as there actually were student riots ALSO going on just before we left….by the time we came back to the uk everything was back to normal and I never looked into it again

    I think I will refrain posting on this site anymore after this shame!hahaha!


    • BobinOz September 20, 2012, 12:39 am |

      I’ve just come here to answer your comment about how the riots started, but it seems literally nanoseconds before my arrival you’ve posted another comment, sounds like you have realised we were talking about different riots.

      Well, at least you’ve caught up with what really happened while you’re away, sorry it wasn’t all about uni fees 🙂 No need to not comment any more though, just change your name or something, no one will ever know. Cheers dude!

  • alexandra September 18, 2012, 5:31 pm |

    They started off with Uni students protesting against the rise in uni tuition fees (they were 3000/yr last year and now they have jumped to 9000/yr) I think the violence took off after someone threw a rock at Prince Charles and Camila’s car while they were on their way to some stupid ball or event. Although the riot was some-what controllable in the begining, hooligans and criminals started “taking part” in order to obviously commit their crimes within the havoc.

  • alexandra September 17, 2012, 7:48 pm |

    I 100% support the riots and only hoped that the protesting continued. This year with the uni fee rise being put in place and 25% of screening positions being held ONLY for international students I find it a disgrace that the youth are sitting back and accepting the facts! We must distinguish the difference between young activists and students demanding bettter education for themselves and the hooligan,unemployed boozers that saw this as an oppurtunity either to vandalise or rob businesses and council property. Unfortunately Broken Britan in my eyes is a mixture of youth who cares more about the X-Factor than they do with current affairs and idle citizens who have been let down by a system that does not force them and encourage them to work and provide a better tomorrow for themselves as they prefer to live on benefits or off crime

    • BobinOz September 18, 2012, 12:49 pm |

      I wasn’t there, obviously, but as far as I am aware the riots in the UK were nothing to do with university fees or the allocation of placements, was it?

  • Phil Beeby August 23, 2011, 1:17 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    I moved to Melbourne a year ago and was back in the UK (Nottingham) to visit my Mum who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Anyway, it was interesting to go back to England with an more of an outsiders angle on things.
    Some of the things I noticed which made me think I was right to get out, even before the riots started, were the amount of dodgy characters walking about – people that looked like they’d mug you for the change in your pocket, there seems to be a massive underclass in the UK and it seems to be getting bigger. There also seems to be a culture based around 2 things, drinking or shopping – there are lots of other things to do but these are the main passtimes. I also noticed the place was very crowded. We went out for Sunday lunch as the sun was out and the carpark was rammed. I also noted the culture there seems to put more emphasis on what car you drive and how big your house is – there’s a lot of snobery and unhealthy competitiveness.
    Only mentioning the bad things – or the things I personally didn’t like. But I can only conclude the country is not right for me or my family and we need to secure PR as quickly as possible. Australia is not perfect but it has a lot more going for it than the UK.
    On the upside English cricket has never looked healthier!

    • Phil Beeby August 23, 2011, 7:09 pm |

      just to note I was back in the UK July / Aug 2011

      • BobinOz August 24, 2011, 9:29 pm |

        But the beauty of that though, is Australia is one of the best places to be when English cricket is on the up, it’s so much fun when England beat the Aussies. I don’t follow cricket at all, but I’m a big fan when that happens!

        I have not been back to England since I moved here, but I read an article in a magazine by someone who, just like you, had. I’m quoting Will Storr… “I realised that I hadn’t felt nervous enough to hide my ear phone wire inside my coat since….. well, since the last time I’d been in London.”

        So, you’re not the only one.

  • Heidi August 19, 2011, 2:55 pm |

    Hello Bob,
    I too want to move to Oz for the sake of my child’s future. We live in the U.S. now. I have wanted to move for 3 years and everyday lately my husband is swaying more to make the big move as well. I am so glad to find your site, it is a great tool for our family. I would like to move to Stirling or Claire, South Australia. Thanks again. Heidi

    • BobinOz August 19, 2011, 8:07 pm |

      Hope you get to make the move, keep working on the OH. Glad you are finding the site useful, see you here soon?

  • TonyC August 17, 2011, 10:42 am |

    Hey Bob, Enjoyed that home video, Happy Dayz, Checked out that biggoted racist Fred you were commenting about, what a %#@&*! fool !!! Keep up the good work,

    • BobinOz August 17, 2011, 11:23 pm |

      Glad you liked the video, yes, maybe they were happy days with out all the stuff we have now. As for Fred, I did speak with him (via email), he seemed a nice enough bloke, thinks he’s helping people. Not sure he realises that the way he puts things that it comes across as racist.

      Oh well.

  • Rupert August 16, 2011, 5:31 pm |

    Just copied from the BBC News website – “No issue in Australian politics is generating more passion right now than climate change, says the BBC’s Nick Bryant in Sydney.”

    You lucky, lucky people!

    Just a thought…

    • BobinOz August 17, 2011, 11:16 pm |

      I assume you are referring to the fact that in the UK, politicians have far more weighty matters to consider than the carbon tax. Like “What the heck are we going to do now!!?”

      • Rupert August 18, 2011, 1:44 am |

        Absolutely. I can’t wait to live in a country where the environment and climate change ‘generate passion’ – fantastic – bring it on!

        • BobinOz August 19, 2011, 8:05 pm |

          Let’s hope the passion defeats the tax!

  • BobinOz August 15, 2011, 1:19 pm |

    Hi Marissa and Liv

    Yes, I had heard about the huge numbers of volunteers who helped with the cleanup. I can’t remember where I heard it, so I can’t tell you whether it was on Australian media or elsewhere. But I know this sorry mess was started on Twitter and that someone got the ball rolling on the big cleanup by using Twitter.

    The vast majority of people in England are good, it’s the minority, as usual, who are causing the problems. England needs to sort out its policing to get it back under control again. I know people have been arrested, I know the courts are working throughout to process the cases, but I also know that for most of the criminals, they’ll get between three and five months. They will regard that as a badge of honour and probably be out in half the time.

    That’s not justice.

  • Liv August 14, 2011, 2:03 am |

    Hi everyone

    Marissa – I’m in Australia & have seen no mention of the riot clean up in the media here at all, rather shockingly, seeing as it is the only detail restoring my hope for England right now! I only knew about it because I have been nervously scanning news sources online, checking the little toerags had not burned down my flat in Clapham!

    Rupert – I totally agree about the society of entitlement & can especially relate to iPod confrontation, though in my case it was a window that sparked the trouble!

    Bob – Thanks for posting this. I’m also at a loss as to where the overly polite English gentlemen stereotypes have gone!

  • Marissa August 14, 2011, 12:01 am |

    Hi Bob

    I read your blog with interest this week, and i am unsure whether the Riot Clean Up stories every got to you over in OZ, as they didnt get much coverage here either but people in their thousands helped to clear the streets, help their neighbours, local businesses and their community to clear up after a small % of our population tried to ruin it and used the opportunity of one incident to endorse their right to steal and damage other people’s property.

    The Riot Clean Up reminded me very much that there is a lot of good-hearted people still in Britain with a sense of community, very much similar to what you also experienced earlier this year with the floods.

    Keep up the good work with your blog, i really enjoy reading it.

  • Rupert August 13, 2011, 7:57 pm |

    Thanks for the film Bob.

    You ask where did it all got wrong? I’d like everyone to understand that all the wonderful things in your film still happen. There are still good parents. There are still patches of grass. There are still camping holidays and canal cruises – but only if you’re affluent and middle-class it would seem.

    The problem is the society of entitlement, a product of the most generous welfare system in the world, which has resulted in a break down of discipline, respect and responsibility in a nation where being on benefits is the only life-course. All this, while they aspire to be footballers and singers and drug-dealers, simply because they see how rich and famous you can become. Couple this with a population of 60 million living in an area the size of the state of Victoria, and it’s really no surprise that the lid has blown off the pressure cooker.

    But the horse has bolted I’m afraid and it will take a generation to make Great Britain great again. For those staying in the UK, you must rebuild your society and bring decent values to your children. End the society of fear that we live in. Parents and teachers are afraid of disciplining their children, because they may be abusing that child’s human rights. The police stood back and watched the destruction for three nights. Why? Because they didn’t know if those kids would try to sue them later on down the line. It’s utterly insane!

    We’re all afraid of our own shadows – just try building up the courage to ask someone on the train to turn down his iPod or take his feet of the seats. The abuse you get in return is astonishing. Who’s teaching manners to these youngsters?

    Also, stop feeding your children junk food. I’m convinced that the over-consumption of cheap carbohydrates and refined sugars has not helped.

    However, this blog is about Australia, so I’ll leave you with this thought. If Australia thinks it can sit back and smugly think it’s all wine and roses down under, think again. Australia needs to act NOW to prevent similar civil unrest in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere. Look at Thatcher and Blair. Really study their policies and don’t make the same mistakes. Please. I’m moving to Sydney next year and I want my children to be doing handstands on a patch of grass, and playing outside and I want my children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and to learn that hard-work has its rewards. Just give them love people. Lots and lots of love.

    Failing that – just send them off to war. Mmm now there’s a thought…

    • BobinOz August 15, 2011, 1:07 pm |

      Yes, thankfully there are still good parents, patches of grass and holidays in England, although I’m not sure you really have to be affluent middle-class to take part. I think some families just don’t bother trying, they’d rather spend their money on junk food and computer games. Other than that, they get everything they need from the television.

      There is a “want it now!” attitude and it seems everybody wants to be famous. Well, everybody is a bit of exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

      And the police, standing back and watching, what was that all about? I think you’re right, fear of being sued. You can’t police a country like that!

      I would imagine we all hope Australia doesn’t go the same way, but I can’t see it happening here. We don’t have the overcrowding or the closeness of housing that tends to breed territorial gangs like the kind that fill England.

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