Tag Archives: Sid Phoenix

Moving Forward: The final contribution from Sid Phoenix

14 Aug
Our final post concerning the London Riots is the third contribution from A Winter Road‘s Sid Phoenix: Moving Forward.
Us High Tea ladies went to do good deeds and volunteered in Portobello Road for Operation Cup of Tea. We mingled with kind locals, served biscuits and brought together the community through tea donated by Tea Pigs, cake donated by Hummingbirds and all served by volunteers rounded up by Chelsea and Kensington Volunteers.
In the aftermath of disaster, watching locals and non-locals alike come together and relax was a wonderful thing to behold. When Londoners take a stand, the sheer display of neighbourly love is really something astounding. Now let’s look to the future… cuppa in hand!
Moving Forward – Sid Phoenix:
In the past two days I have written two opinion pieces which The High Tea Cast have been kind enough to publish on their blog. The first was an appeal to rioters for perspective, the second a critique of a society that ignores the problems of its youth. The first was met with fairly universal agreement, often tempered by statements to the effect of “it’s a pity they won’t hear it” – the “they” being the faceless, nameless rioters. The second was more controversial, with people often trying to heap blame on government and “the system” as opposed to focusing on the lack of societal parenting that I believe to be at the core of the riots.In the calm (whether before the storm or not) after the past few days, I feel it is important that we gather around the things we agree on rather than descend to partisan disagreements as we all try and claim the riots for our own political agendas.This is the greatest danger of the aftermath. I tried to stress the point that society as a whole must take responsibility for the upbringing of its individuals if we are to move forward. Individuals are fallible – there are bad parents in the world – so when we see a child being rude on a bus, we as a society have a responsibility to tell them to stop; not to hide behind our papers, books, and iPhones. Whatever your criticism of government – and trust me, I have many, oh SO many – surely you do not disagree with this. Regardless of whether or not you agree it is the cause of the riots, you must agree that it is in and of itself a good idea.

In the next days, weeks, and months many, many people will come forward with their particular “cause for the riots”. With the best intentions in the world, they run a very strong risk of drowning each other out and homogenising in to one deafening mass that will go completely unheard by government. So government will continue to do whatever it wants, caving only to the most hysterical of requests.

Why? Why do we all feel the need to dig our heels in and shout our particular answer and suggestions as indignant gospel? Because, much like the rioters, we all feel that government is not listening to us – that they seem to be working to some agenda of their own which is not completely in line with anyone except themselves.

This is the very definition of the issues inherent in the current system – NO ONE is happy. We all feel very strongly that things should be very different, very quickly. We are all disillusioned with those in power. We all feel that the current state of affairs is completely unsatisfactory. We are all frustrated by how little we feel we can change. This is universal, and completely irrelevant of upbringing – hence my point that the issues in government are not the root of the riots per se, as the riots themselves are a warped, horrific, immature and underdeveloped manifestation of feelings we all share. What is so tragic is our apparent inability to look at the bigger picture and put differences aside to work on the points we agree on.

The one thing that seems to be increasingly apparent to us all is that at its very core capitalism as we know it does not function. Some of you advocate a resource based economy such as the one proposed by The Venus Project (www.thevenusproject.com), others take a more moderate approach and simply believe that we need to reign in the absurd levels of corporate power. Myself, I believe we should utterly remove the fallacious legal assumption that a corporation has the same rights as an individual: it does not, nor does the legal system owe it the same protections.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum you lean towards you cannot help but acknowledge that the current state of affairs is unsustainable and requires change.

Yet as soon as change is proposed, what happens? We all decide our way is best, refuse to listen, to compromise – we come up with our own ideas and then decide they are infallible – and so the machine grinds on. When the opportunity for substantial change finally presents itself, no one is entirely satisfied with it, meaning the horrifically simplistic argument of “better the devil you know” proves alarmingly effective – and so the machine grinds on.This is the danger we face in the aftermath of the riots. The danger that despite all the debate, all the yelling, all the analysis, all the reporting, all the discussion, all the suggestions – nothing will change. We will continue exactly the way we always have, only slightly angrier, slightly more paranoid, slightly more mistrusting of our neighbours.So I beg of you, do not pick one idea and fight hand tooth and nail. Do not succumb to the erroneous notion that there is one universal answer – there is not. Immerse yourself in the myriad of suggestions that are bound to emerge and grab hold of any and all that appeal to you. There are petitions springing up everywhere, they take less than two minutes to fill out – do so. Any idea that you find that you agree with, take a minute to share it on any forum you frequent. This is how we will find common ground – the ideas that speak to us all WILL be heard. If we all vote for everything we believe in, everything we agree with, certain universally held beliefs will emerge.This is the true nature of democracy – we do not vote for an individual, or a party, or a policy – we vote for ideas.And ideas can come from anywhere.

An(other) Offer of Perspective: A Follow-up from Sid Phoenix.

10 Aug

Here at HTC towers, the tweets are rolling in, we’re choking up over images of riot cleanup volunteers, gestures of support for the emergency services (we’re voting that EVERYONE who sees a riot policeman, paramedic or fireman offer them a cup of tea and a thank you on behalf of the city from ANYWHERE! No hesitations!). We’re happy to see that communities pulled together to strive for a peaceful London last night, though now cities in the North of England have faced the deterioration of their livelihoods. Our love, wishes and kisses go out to those affected, and we encourage the uniting of communities like we’re seeing in the aftermath of all of this, and makes us proud to be lucky London ladies.

Yesterday, A Winter Road’s Sid Phoenix wrote a heartfelt plea to rioters. It was met with a stupendous response, and made our blog hits rocket overnight (and counting!).

In a potentially controversial new plea, he is addressing the victims of the London Riots.

An(other) Offer of Perspective.

To the Victims

You are angry. You feel molested and abused. You feel attacked and wronged. You are confused, blindsided, indignant. Your world is being ripped apart at the seams. You are fighting the urge to demand revenge, retribution, punishment. You may be calling for it outright.

You are not alone. You know this. You can see for yourselves the strength and resilience of your community, society, culture, country. You have done what you can to help, you have done what you can to contribute. You have seen the solidarity that surrounds you. You are proud. You should be. You know you are in the right, and you are.

Yet where does the responsibility for this all lie? The individuals perpetrating these acts are children – the argument “old enough to commit the crime, etc” has been used. Many of you agree, but none of you think so simplistically as to believe that the people doing this were born evil. You all know that the issues run deeper than that. You have many, many ideas and suggestions as to the causes of all of this.

We can talk about the problems of parenting, we can talk about youth pregnancy, we can talk about the lack of father (or mother) figures, we can talk about poverty, the welfare state, laziness, a sense of entitlement, lack of employment, people manipulating and feeding off the system, the complete failure of the system. We can talk about all of these things and never once have to take responsibility.

Government is not a parent. Society’s values cannot be taught by government – that is indoctrination. The responsibility for raising children lies with parents, but so often a parent fails – either through their own faults and weaknesses or through their circumstance – and then what? Do we ignore the children? Do we blame the parent? Surely not.

Surely when society as a whole takes responsibility for the behavior of its young as individuals a child cannot have a failed parent. During the extensive time I have spent in Paris I have seen entire tube carriages turn on children for not standing to allow an old woman to sit. If there were no child present any individual would stand, but there is – and the child must learn.

This is a cultural phenomenon by no means restricted to the French, but it is utterly missing from the English. How many times have we been on buses where children are loud, brayish, play music, refuse to stand, throw food on the floor – behavior that we would never tolerate in our children.

They ARE our children. Yet we turn a blind eye – myself included – we pretend we do not see or hear, and so we do not speak.

You may say you are scared, or that you fear retribution. You only fear this because you feel alone. You know that you can stand up in a crowded bus and no one will come to your support. Brave individuals cannot take responsibility for an entire society’s desire to say “I do not want this problem”.

We accuse these people of being greedy, demanding, taking what is not theirs, having no respect for authority, but we have never taught them “no”. We have never made them feel ashamed.

A police officer arresting you does not make you feel ashamed if you have never learnt the shame of crime. It merely makes you feel angry. A busload of people from all walks of life turning on you and demanding that you pick up your drinks can – that is shame. That is more powerful than any number of faceless men and women with batons and shields.

This is a temper tantrum. It is a child desperately demanding its parent’s attention.

It is entirely, unequivocally, and completely our problem. So I beg you to take your earphones out, stand up and raise your young.

Or these problems will never go away, no matter how much money the government gives and takes, or how many advantages it proffers and then removes, or how many freedoms it grants and then denies. The only difference the government will ever make is a child being spoiled or deprived. It will never make a child feel noticed.

Only we can do that. Pay attention. Do not turn away.

For the sake of all of us, help raise your kids.

Sid Phoenix

An Offer of Perspective: The London Rioters – A contribution from Sid Phoenix.

9 Aug

No doubt, the truly traumatic London Riots are going to be on the lips of every city dweller for a while, and we won’t bore you with all the same ins and outs that the BBC has and the papers will for days to come.

Instead, Sid Phoenix from A Winter Road has a heartfelt contribution to make – beautifully written and truly touching. The High Tea cast girls hope you and your loved ones are safe, and encourage you to support the friends and neighbours who have suffered at the hands of mindless violence.

Peace and love x

An Offer Of Perspective:

To the Rioters

You are angry. You have had enough. You feel forgotten and marginalized and mistreated. You feel that the government and the police have wronged you. You hate them for it, and you are seeking your revenge.

You are not alone. Over the past few months people in countries throughout the Arab world have taken to the streets to protest the injustices their governments have perpetrated against them. I ask you to remember what happened. I ask you to remember the blood that was spilled in the streets as governments told the police to open fire upon the people.

In the four days that you have attacked London, the only person confirmed dead was killed by rioters, not police: a 26 year old man attacked in his car in Croydon. The people of London have grown more and more vocal in demanding that you be stopped by any means necessary. Some call for rubber bullets, others for the military to be involved.

Yet they are not. Why? Do we enjoy having our property attacked, our homes and businesses burned and looted? No. Are we weak? No. It is because we know that you are people. You have hopes and dreams and fears the same as we do. We remember this about you although you seem to have forgotten it about us.

We remember this, but more importantly the government remembers this. You are not stronger than the police. If they choose to they can pass out assault rifles and gun you down in the streets. This is the power they have. If you were in one of the countries where people fight for their freedoms even now, this is the power they would have used. You would not be at home with a new TV, new shoes, or a new watch. You would have been shot at, attacked, beaten, and would very possibly be lying in the roads, dead.

But that is not who we are. You live in a country that will not forget you are people. That will suffer a weekend of horrific destruction rather than sink to the levels of an authoritative regime.

So many of us want to help, want to fix the things that are wrong, and want to listen to what everyone has to say. Including you. Even now.

But you are rapidly running out of time. You cannot wantonly destroy what people have worked so hard to build without suffering the consequences. Some of you may escape punishment, but you will have made even the people who would have listened to you hate you. The government will still be in power, and you will still be at the bottom of the food chain. No amount of rioting can change that. If you continue, people will get seriously hurt. Most probably you.What is worse, you are allowing the dictators around the world to relax. They want you to keep going. They want you to force the police to clamp down. The second that they do and it appears on YouTube – the second we see water cannons, or rubber bullets, or tasers – they will turn to their people and they will say “look at what happens in England. What is the point in fighting us? They are no better.” You will have robbed the people who have fought for their lives of hope. If the police are forced to bruise you, the police elsewhere will have the excuse to kill. You will have condemned people to die by abusing the freedoms you have.

You have our attention. It is entirely up to you what you do with it. If you want violence, you will get it, and we will all lose – here and across the world. So please, before you break and smash and loot and steal and burn and destroy, think. Think about what you want to say.

We are listening.



Sid Phoenix.