As a rule I try and avoid political topics as they always seem to rile someone up. That being said, avoiding all mention of the recent riots seems ignorant.
I was not in London over the period of most anarchic days but even Bristol, post-micro-riots, what I experienced was incredibly unnerving - businesses closing early, suspicious looks passing between innocents, a horrible distrusting atmosphere.
Leaving Bristol on the Thursday after the long weekend of rioting, I decided to test humanity by leaving a stranger with my bag on a train platform. I often do this - obviously primarily for convenience - but also with the slight interest in what will happen. One is always slightly playing with fire (unfortunate, yet unavoidable, phrase considering the opening topic), however innocent the person seems - always running the risk of bag and stranger being gone when they return from get a sandwich/coffee/the lavatory/whatever. As of yet, it has worked out a-ok. I’ve been lucky.
This occasion was particularly interesting as the bag I was using looks exactly like a “shifty bag”. If someone said that, it is what one would picture - a grey, old, rectangle suitcase. One that is so impractical to carry in the age of wheel-y bags and rucksacks that no-one in their right mind would use it. Unless they thought it was as funny as I do. Walking through a station I am sure the police will stop me and ask to look for drugs hidden in statues, or illegal monkeys.
This considered, I am most flattered when a young girl agrees to watch my bag while I go and buy a drink.