Thursday, February 10, 2005

Life in London in 2005 - marvellous!

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And today, possibly the most perfect new story of my lifetime. A story that combines many of the factors that depress me so about life in London in 2005. This is the story I will quote from now on to anyone choosing to take me to task over my thoughts about how awful London has become. UK readers of my blog will probably have already seen this story but it's so very, very good it's worth repeating here. The quotes at the end are particularly choice …
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Stabbing in Ikea chaos
By Oliver Finegold, Evening Standard
10 February 2005
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A man was stabbed and hundreds of people were crushed as the opening of the biggest Ikea store in England descended into chaos.
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Nine ambulances were sent to the store in north London after reports that up to 20 people suffered heat exhaustion when the midnight opening turned into a riot. Staff closed the doors after half an hour amid fears the stampede could become a Hillsborough-style crush.
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Six people were still being treated in hospital today.
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More than 4,000 flocked to the new store in Edmonton last night, lured by adverts promising huge discounts, including sofas at £45 each and bed frames cut to £30.
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As soon as it was declared open, the crowds tried to push their way through the main doors, leaving many people pinned against the wall. Security guards were overwhelmed and scores of shoppers were thrown to the ground.
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A man, believed to be in his twenties, was stabbed at a Tesco petrol station yards from the store. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "It was all part of the same incident." Today the victim was "stable".
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Paramedics at the scene said they feared a disaster. An ambulance service source said. "I thought it could be another Hillsborough. It's a miracle no one was killed."
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Video footage showed shoppers fighting over furniture. One man was pinned against a wall by a burly customer as they argued over a sofa. A woman was left with blood pouring from her nose after she was pushed against a wall, while another was heard screaming in pain as she tried to escape the crush. Shoppers were stretchered into ambulances while others sat on the floor, where staff gave them first aid.
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After half an hour the store was closed - but at the main doors, staff were reduced to writing signs in black marker pen and holding them up against the windows to announce the fact. The crowd refused to disperse, and at one point some outside the main entrance tried to smash down the glass doors.
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Fights broke out between Ikea staff and shoppers. More than 30 police officers were drafted in to keep the sides apart as firefighters tried to free customers who were still trapped in the crowd.
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Meanwhile, traffic on the North Circular ground to a halt as people who had been in jams for over an hour simply abandoned their cars.
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Ikea apologised for the chaos but a spokeswoman said some shoppers had "behaved like animals".
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Customers criticised the store for being understaffed. Karni Mahmood, 37, from Enfield, said: "I'm amazed at how badly organised it was. Ikea failed to provide the staff to control such a big event. They are to blame for this mess. I was near the main doors and I couldn't move in any direction. I only came here to buy a cheap sofa."
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Student Latyia Arpesh, 23, from Tottenham, said: "I was pushed to the ground. I tried to get up but had people all clambering over me. It was terrifying, I feared for my life."
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Plumber Gary Woodman, 39, said: "My wife was punched in the eye. She's in a lot of pain. All they had to do was plan this opening properly and the night would have passed off peacefully."
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One woman claimed she suffered an asthma attack in the store after staff refused to let in a friend who had her inhaler.
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However, an Ikea spokeswoman said: "I think it's fair to say we misjudged it and maybe were a bit naive, but some shoppers behaved like animals and started shoving and pushing everyone else. There's not much we can do to stop that.
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"We took advice from the police and council over how many people we would need for the opening. We followed all the safety guidelines."
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Ikea staff said they were shocked by the stampede. One said: "When we opened the doors there was this almighty rush. We didn't know what to do so we closed the doors straightaway, but some people got stuck in them and others were rammed up against the glass. We tried letting in people one by one but they ran through again.
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"We were looking forward to selling loads of nice furniture at very cheap prices. It was never meant to turn into a riot."
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Customer Ben Adetimle, 31, an accountant from Leytonstone, said: "I bought a sofa but as soon as I turned my back someone had stolen it. But I'm not upset, it's just furniture and it's not worth dying over."
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As paramedics treated the injured, many shoppers continued to wheel their trolleys around the store. A woman with a set of pot plants said: "I've come all the way from Birmingham for this and I can't come back empty-handed."
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Jilal Patel, 29, from Tottenham, said: "I started queuing at 11am and nothing is going to stop me from getting my sofa."
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I'm particularly taken by the suggestion that it's somehow IKEA's fault that its shoppers were violent pigs. Strange days indeed when a furniture store can be held responsible for public morality and behaviour.
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If Oliver Stone doesn't want to direct a movie about last night's events and the tragedy of war I'll do it. 'All he wanted was a nice, cheap sofa but, instead, he found carnage ... and Death. War is Hell but IKEA is worse'
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Sadly, the IKEA rampage story did not top the news today as Prince Charles announced his forthcoming marriage to CMB. The TV was full of grovelling coverage and Channel 5 interrupted Vertical Limit twice to inform us that the celebratory banquet this evening included 'smoked salmon, beef filet and lemon panacotta' on the menu. Like wow, that was so interesting. Personally, I didn't care a f*ck and was much more interested in watching a film set in Pakistan, made in New Zealand, that substituted Maoris for Pakistanis and Mt Cook for K2. But I'm a geek like that.
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One thing did cross my mind during the Prince Charles coverage though. Listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury discuss the consitutional and spiritual issues arising from the engagement I was, not for the first time, favourably impressed by the tone of his voice. If he ever tires of being the head of the Anglican Chuch a fulfilling career in flame grilled hamburger voice-overs beckons ...
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Also in the news today ...

Woman jailed for testicle attack

A woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands has been sent to prison.

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out. A friend handed it back to Mr Jones saying: "That's yours."

Monti admitted wounding and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Jones said: "Amanda attacked me in an unprovoked manner and the attack has ruined my life."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/merseyside/4253849.stm

Published: 2005/02/10 12:42:40 GMT

Anonymous said...

Also in the news today ...


Lisa O'Carroll
The Guardian
Thursday February 10, 2005

A survivor of the Holocaust has called on Ken Livingstone to apologise for remarks he made in an exchange with an Evening Standard journalist, comparing the reporter to a "concentration camp guard".

Gina Turgel, a Polish Jew, questioned how a man in his position could "make light" of the pain and suffering the survivors of the Holocaust felt.

"I am quite a placid person, but this makes me angry," she said.

The mayor of London told the reporter, Oliver Finegold, that he should not be working for a paper that has a "record of supporting fascism" - a reference to its sister paper, the Daily Mail, which flirted with fascism in the 1930s.

In an extraordinary tirade, Mr Livingstone started by asking Mr Finegold whether he was considering "getting treatment" for working with the Standard. In what must be assumed to be a reference to the Mail's links with fascism, he went on to ask whether Finegold was a "German war criminal".

Ian said...

Regarding the Ikea story, here is a quote from the Guardian today:

"Many disappointed customers blamed the store for bringing the trouble on itself. One said: "This is Edmonton. What did they expect?" "