These are the new Nike trainers Americans recently queued to buy. The lines started forming soon after midnight, some stores had their doors ripped off their hinges and, inevitably, when the starting gun was fired, those who were a little slow off the mark got trampled under foot. As far as I’ve been able to discover there were no fatalities but there were certainly some broken bones and teeth. Shopping can be hell.

Dissolve to Boxing Day and Oxford Street in London’s West End. What used to be an elegant thoroughfare, a place you could buy a coat that would last forever and enjoy a cup of tea in Marshall & Snelgrove, is now a greasy, scruffy tat-mart. And on Monday it became the site of a fatal trainer-related stabbing. Wait though… this was no ordinary case of Shopper Rage  –  you know, some bitch on a mobility scooter grabs the last box of Brillo pads, you’re going to punch her dentures down her froat, obviously. No, this was an outbreak of Robber Rage. There was never any question of money being involved. Those boys, gang rivals, were on a shoplifting mission to Foot Locker.

So what do we think about this? First, how did we reach the point where trainers were to die for? They used to be called plimsolls and until my Dad joined the Navy at the age of 18, they were his only footwear, a badge of his childhood poverty. He never wore them again as long as he lived.

Second, when did shoplifting become a competitive sport? 

Third, and in a completely different league of importance, how did we allow so many young men, mainly black, to grow up to lead such violent, purposeless lives. Where are their parents in this? How have these yooves emerged from, say, eleven years of formal education, so ignorant and so morally rudderless? Many of them die young, of course, but sadly not before they’ve done their share of casual spawning. What possible hope for their children?   

One of the many photos of the Boxing Day incident showed the following items: a police barrier, a gum-polluted pavement, a cigarette end, the plastic top from a take-away cola, and a blood-stained knife. Says it all really. Oxford Street 2011.

The End Times, my friends. The End Times.

Leave a Comment