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Wednesday, October


The increase in demand for self-defence lessons across the borough [Southwark] can be seen in the sudden appearance of new martial arts schools occupying the disused shells of the many empty shops formerly lining the high street. It is of course only natural that people should want to feel secure in these uncertain times. At the Institute of Traditional Karate-Do for example, new memberships increased by over 1000% last week and, furthermore, showed no sign of slowing down. The difficulties presented by such collective enthusiasm was neatly summed up by the sensei who, as I approached, shoved his two fingers up at me through the barriers nailed across the fire escape at the rear of the building.

They pulled the shutters down last night after the situation turned dreadful. Unable to take on new pupils for fears of overcrowding, there was a skirmish with the army of punters waiting to sign up and several people were injured as the building was forcibly closed. The receptionist had it worst; during the struggle they pulled one of her legs off, which was later paraded around in triumph and burned. The crowd, dissatisfied with this trophy did not disperse however, but stood and chanted morosely to be taught how to defend themselves, right into the small hours. The sound of a barricade being hastily improvised on the inside of the building was all that could be heard above this mantra.

So far this morning there have been no further developments. The last of the crowd left at around 4am after urinating on the forecourt, probably looking for somewhere else to be trained in defence. Neither has anybody come out from inside, probably for fear that there might be customers still sniffing around outside. No police were in attendance.

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