Going through Clapham Junction is surreal experience. I went along it early on Tuesday morning and for a large part of it you would be hard pressed to know anything had happened. The council, businesses and some fleet-of-foot glaziers had tidied up so well it was business as normal for most. Even the cordoned off area didn’t seem that bad, largely because the cordon kept you so far from the worst of the damage.
Now you can get to the central Clapham Junction area you can see more of the destruction. This morning it was a mix of boarded up shops, semi-permanent broadcast locations and a bit of traffic congestion caused by ranks of tradesmen’s vans supporting the repairs being carried out.
But the key thing is that Clapham Junction is open for business. Even the boarded up shops are open, serving customers while they wait for new windows.
And this is a key message: Clapham Junction is open, and we should be shopping there.
The response on Tuesday was fabulous and inspiring. But the damage is not just cosmetic; many businesses – especially the independent businesses – will be hurt by Monday’s vandalism and looting.
Many will be having long and difficult discussions with insurers, and many will find that they aren’t covered for riot.
Even those that escaped unscathed will have concerns that cash-flow, still recovering from the recession, will suffer if Clapham Junction’s reputation has suffered.
And, could anyone be blamed for wondering if it’s worth going on when some of the people you serve can suddenly decide they are entitled to come and help themselves to your stock, trashing the place while they are at it?
After the clean-up, the one thing that will really help, is that we all shop local.
That doesn’t mean we all have to spend every penny locally or close our Amazon accounts. But if we all decided to choose a local restaurant instead of heading into town or did our convenience shopping near home in SW11 and not near work in the West End or City. The cumulative difference would be enormous.
I’ve been trying to make my difference over the past few nights. On Tuesday I had a fantastic meal at the relatively new Tarragon. Last night I went along, with some visiting American friends, to the excellent Donna Margherita – one of London’s best pizzas. I’m not sure where tonight’s meal will be, but it’s not like Lavender Hill doesn’t offer plenty of choice.
Of course, that isn’t sustainable. I’m just too old for so many nights out and am already feeling the pace. But from now on whenever I reach for my wallet outside of Battersea I’m going to ask myself a simple question: “Could I buy this in SW11?”
I’d like to challenge everyone to do that too.