Can We Thank the Riots for a Great Deal?

by Sean Gabb

I bumped into one of the main local estate agents this morning in Deal. We were in the same queue for postage stamps, and our conversation turned to the inevitable matter of house prices.

For the past ten days or so, his agency has been flooded with enquiries from South London. Last weekend was his busiest for viewings since Gordon Brown did his Sampson in the Temple of Dagon act. Because it’s about the nicest place on the Fast Link to London, he expects prices to rise ten per cent relative to the South East average – and by Christmas. We agreed that there would eventually be more riots in the inner cities, and that crime levels would rise to levels comparable to low-intensity civil war. Crime would be up, and insurance premiums, and there would be the general inconvenience of living on something like the slopes of Vesuvius. The only thing to fall, we further agreed, would be prices for those unable to see the writing on the wall.

Deal is already filling up with refugees from the Hell that used to be London, and I’ve been moaning for a year about how crowded the roads are getting. Well, the shock of the riots may turn a trickle into a flood.

So, thank you, friends of Mark Duggan. Because of you and, of course, the useless plod sent in to calm you down, my late Stuart former brothel and place where Nelson slept with Emma Hamilton may finally outstrip the value of somewhere three times bigger – with land – in what Mrs Gabb thinks an even nicer part of England.

And, for those of you who have been sneering at me all these years from what you thought the much more desirable Notting Hill or St John’s Wood, the main Deal estate agents are Messrs Bright and Bright. You can find them on the Internet, though they currently have nothing left to sell.

It’s an ill wind….

23 responses to “Can We Thank the Riots for a Great Deal?

  1. I and Michael also wonder how far North that tide will lap. I chatted with him on the dog only yesterday about this very matter. We are 230 miles up and he’s nearly another 70 more, but you never know. Also Liverpool and Manchester have local “difficulties”, about 40 miles south of here.

  2. C H Ingoldby

    I could almost believe that the sharp increases in rail fares are part of a plan to force people to stay in London rather than commuting from outside.

  3. Do you really want a lot of Guardian-reading shite arriving in your neighbourhood?.

  4. Oh, for Guardian-readers, Deal is very infra dignitatum.

  5. You are dreaming. Houseprices are coming down in this country in real terms. The bubble isn’t yet over. Besides, I cannot quite understand what you mean with Hell of London. I really enjoy living here in south London. Sure there is certainly more trouble ahead as the total bankruptcy of the state and the society becomes more and more apparent. But the only real thing that bothers me about this is that I cannot take my security into my own hands. But hopfully that will change with more riots as people realise how useless the state is.

  6. I moved out of London six years ago because my choice of new career as impoverished artist meant I couldn’t afford it. I miss it terribly. I am a city person and, to me, frankly, London is the only place in England worth living, riots or no riots. I reside now, again, in the dismal one horse town of my birth, where transportation is still so primitive that people talk about getting “the bus” because it’s literally the only fucking bus in the whole dreary place. And the local shops are all run by people who can barely speak English. Hopefully some immigrants will take them over.

    There’s a saying, “If you are tired of London, you are tired of life”. If on the other hand you’re tired of Northampton, it just means you’ve been here longer than ten minutes. There’s a reason it’s cheaper to live here. It’s because it’s fucking crap.

  7. I once drove through Northampton. Though I wasn’t tempted to stop, it didn’t look so very bad.

    Deal, on the other hand, is delightful. The Queen Mother lived nearby, as did Noel Coward and Ian Fleming. Charles Hawtree lived down the road. Thomas Hughes wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays round the corner. Now the town is blessed by the presence of a critically-acclaimed and internationationally best-selling novelist.

    What more could anybody possibly want?

  8. I once drove through Macdonalds. I wouldn’t want to live there either.

  9. When I was a child in the 1960s I was fascinated by London. I found a book in our local childrens library (I lived and still live far from the smoke and now am glad of it) that was about London and its history and it showed the London buses as lumbering red elephants. The book was filled with drawings and showed the pachaderms on their routes around London and talked of the history of the places they passed. The Tower of London, the Monument and Lombard St are three names that spring to mind (I have an ongoing project to try and remember and catalogue all the books that influenced me as a child. Some titles I can remember, but most, including the bus/elephant book have passed beyond recall and can only now be catalogued by description). I loved that book and read the print off it.
    Later on in the 60’s the family had a couple of holidays in London and they did not, for the most part disappoint. I loved the Underground and the film posters displayed there–I think it was MASH. One of my fondest memories is sitting in the Science Museum cafe under the roof, eating a kunzle cake (another pleasure now gone for good) with a Spitfire and (I think) a Sopworth Camel biplane suspended above.
    My enthusiasm for the smoke has long vanished in company with those far distant days. A neutron bomb would be my solution for our capitals ills followed by conversion(=demolition) to vast expanses of rolling parkland (a little like the park-like bit in Harrogate but on a vaster scale) with miles of green between each bit of history, the Tower etc. The Houses of Parliament would be retained as a combination public toilet (which it already is) and a large museum of state atrocitys. THere would be holograms of contemporary political scum (or maybe those dummys who have 3d faces projected on to their blank visages–altho’ that is what is filling the green benches already). A sad but well deserved end for the City That Became A Cesspit.

  10. I think I’d agree with that. I arrived in London in 1966, and got out in 2001. I think I stayed there ten years too long.

  11. We moved from London (Ealing!) to Edinburgh nine years ago. Better nine years too early than nine minutes too late.

  12. “Now the town is blessed by the presence of a critically-acclaimed and internationationally best-selling novelist. ”

    I’ve racked my brains and can’t for the life of me think who that could be.

  13. Rob – If I didn’t think you were trying to raise my blood pressure, I’d call you a gross and vulgar peasant. Who has not beheld the transcendent genius of my friend Mr Blake?

    David – I’ve never been to Edinburgh, but am sure it is more civilised than London.

    Re London in general, there is often a moment in the Hammer vampire films when the van Helsing figure drags someone back, calling “She isn’t the woman you loved. She has become EVIL!” That is my answer to Ian B.

  14. I’m not a subscriber to the English fantasy of leafy lanes and village primitivism, the Romantic nonsense that started with the likes of Wordsworth and so pollutes our polity today with it naive backwardism. Cities are where life happens; cities represent modernity in all its glory, the combination of risk and opportunity that surely characterises libertarianism. A city throbs with vitality, and none more so than that greatest of cities, London; as one recedes to smaller and smaller conurbations, the blood in the veins of civilisation becomes steadily more sclerotic.

    I remember when they built the shopping centre here (emphasis on “the” in the singular) and people used to come from far and wide just to see the sliding doors. “Have you been there yet?” people would say, “the doors, they are like magic, they work on their own”. A town is a pale shadow of a city; it is the Top Of The Pops LP instead of the original artists.

    London has not become evil. She is the fiery lover with a twinkle in her eye who delights you every day with a new and exotic experience. Sometimes she is a little mad; sometimes she is too much to cope with. But when she is good, she is very very good; and even when she is bad, she is at least not boring.

  15. I live close enough to London to use its centre as a place to meet friends and business associates, and for shopping. I’d only consent to live there again if I had enough money for a detached house in a rich area and for metal shutters and burly guards in the street. Otherwise, Deal is fine. Taking it as part of a conurbation that includes Dover and Ramsgate, it has a larger population than Classical Athens and about the same population as Restoration London. It also has no Mob.

  16. Your “fiery lover” is smeared with ordure. This may please anosmic urbanites but few others.She throbs indeed, but with wickedness not vitality.

  17. Unfortunately- and it saddens me that hardly anyone seems to be addressing this- it is the belief in that “ordure” which has led to the massive expansion of the State and collapse of liberty in this country, by people determined to “clean it up”.

    The urban landscape remains remarkably similar throughout history, with its ghettoes and criminality, tarts and footpads and thugs, gangs and gangsters, and occasional riots, but each generation thinks these things are new. You can find the same complaints of ordure in the twentieth century, and in the nineteenth, and in Britain’s perhaps most liberal era, the early to mid eighteenth, when a gentleman of any means needed bodyguards just to visit the theatre and remain intact.

    This is the uselessness of the conservative cultural view, and it seems to me that many declared libertarians believe that a libertarian society will look rather like the 1950s as presented through rose-tinted memory, with polished shoes and boys playing with toy jet planes and everyone is decent and nice and so on; while forgetting that that slightly higher degree of social order was purchased by massive and unsustainable welfare programmes, a temporary economic stability achieved through a mixture of communist and fascist corporatism, and a stifling cultural conformity which was so dull that the bohemian 1960s broke out to throw it off while Attlee’s new dispensation spiralled down eventually into the mayhem of the 1970s.

    The ordure was always there, and, for the foreseeable future, always will be. We just have to accept it, because it isn’t ordure at all. Just people. Give me a grotty pub full of petty villains over the social prison of Sean’s idealised gated community any day of the week. You might be safer in that rich area, but just think of the neighbours.

  18. There are Town Mice and Country Mice: to each his or her own


  19. I’m with Tony. It’s not even an argument you can settle as it’s based upon too many irrational values.

  20. “The Queen Mother lived nearby, as did Noel Coward and Ian Fleming. Charles Hawtree lived down the road. Thomas Hughes wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays round the corner. Now the town is blessed by the presence of a critically-acclaimed and internationationally best-selling novelist”

    Your point being? Lived somewhere he Queen Mum did? So there’s a retail outlet for swans in aspic is there?.I’m with Ian here (and not because he’s a Kitty Kounter). I adore London (lived in Lived in Mile End) but I can’t afford to live there anymore. For the record I live on the edge of Manchester. It’s very nice and all but…

  21. I used to think like Ian B. Then I moved to Madrid. Now THIS is a city that truly deserves the term ‘great’.

    I could give you a list of over 100 reasons why I think it superior to Laaandon, but here’s my favourite:

    Very often I will walk home at 2-3-4.00am, usually somewhat worse for wear. And during these walks (or stumbles) I have never, ever, felt afraid or threatened. I live in an area called Tetuan. It’s not posh, not poor either, probably best described as solid working class. It has dark, poorly lit alleys and a growing immigrant population (Latino). But it’s safe, as is most of the city. And burglary is unheard of so when I lock the door to leave I do so with confidence.

    I love England and am proud to be English, but living in Madrid has been an eye opener and I look back at my ex-city and particularly my ex-manor (N7), and I am embarassed.

  22. Nixon is Lord

    You need to celebrate your growing diversity!

  23. A man who suffers from amnesia has turned up in Deal.

    He has been named “Frank”, provisionally.

    He doesn’t seem to have been asked about Richard Blake yet.