As speeches go, Theresa May’s response to the third day of rioting in London was one of her greatest yet, full of strident invective against the mindless few and delivered with volume. “Criminality!” and “condemnation!” were two of the words she repeated endlessly.
But what can she mean? Surely, rioting is nothing more than “criminality”. What else can it be? Have I missed something? It’s just a load of yobs on the rampage innit? i.e. a riot.
But wait a minute. It suddenly dawned on me. Of course. The genius of Theresa May. How could I be so stupid? The riots were more than just a riot by definition. They’re a fashion statement. Riots in broad daylight are a clear and positive message on couture.
Back in the gloomy 80s we had to make do with grainy black and white film of night time riots that looked like the blitz with no defining statement. But London 2011 is much more revealing, a retro riot, drawing heavily on street fashion’s golden era, the 1980s, a passaggiato of petrol bombs and pumas.
The BBC News 24 chopper lovingly revealed mayhem that was so redolent of the past I expected a fashion correspondent to drop in from Royal Ascot. Old school Adidas sambas and shell suit bombers with yellow piping mixed with bright green hoodies and knee crotch trousers. Bold colours were prevalent. I saw reds and oranges sitting comfortably alongside the outdoor rioters’ gear of choice, the dour autumnal tones of North Face, for example. Chequered Arafat head scarves are definitely in, while the west coast surfer brands, such as Fat Face with their 60s wave logos and contrast stitching, are out. Maybe we’ll see those later in the season when the south west joins in.
So thank you Theresa for bringing it to my attention in a roundabout way that nothing ever changes. It is heart warming to think that as the nights draw in, fuel bills soar, unemployment rises and division is felt deeply, that while we sit counting our losses there’s always an uplifting message from Theresa just around every corner. She is our greatest Tory Home Secretary since the last one was kicked out under a barrage of “never again”s.