In my previous experience of riots and looting in the UK in the seventies and eighties we would board up the shop at night and hope for the best. Mostly these street parties were BUF march inspired confrontations and football matches.

This particular time of our discontent however is hallmarked by a more direct attack on consumer goods stores as the disposessed youth of England seek to procure those items that perhaps seem so far away after thirty years of economic rationalism. Personally I blame Paris Hilton.

I note with interest that "" includes pictures of partially hooded individuals carrying familiar items out of Richer Sounds, Currys, and other UK CE retailers. I spotted variously amongst the photos Tivoli radios, Audiolab CD Players, numerous Samsung and Toshiba panels, Wharfedale speakers, Pioneer blu ray players, Quad amplifiers, Bang and Olufsen, and Denon Receivers. These chaps would make for quality well informed consumers if only they would use their wallets rather than a crowbar.

When I visit the UK I am oft reminded of the violence in the street that to be honest has always lurked just below the surface. It is usually expressed most elequontly in Soccer crowds and outside the Pubs at closing time where a wrong glance can suddenly result in being force fed with a knuckle sandwich. I don't miss that side of England ... and in fact still bear the physical scars of my encounters with that culture.

Working in a Hi Fi business in Australia just let's one realise how bloody decent most Australians are. Our customer interactions are such fun and so many clients have become good friends. That would never have happened if I had stayed in the UK with it's essential social separation of purveyor and client.

That being said there have been times when I have slept in the store on Lygon St with a blunt instrument close to hand ... as a proprietor one rapidly gets a feel for when it's ram raid season and I have definetly acquired a telepathic sensitivity to shoplifting personalities in the store (read paranoia). In the end I am left with a sense of pity for those poor depraved souls who are so consumed by their addiction that they are turned into veritable zombies. They remain somebodies son or daughter ...

I doubt very much that we will see copycat looting here in Australia. It is very much associated with high youth unemployment and lack of respect and prospects. Some of my favourite customer encounters are with the just out of school / university young person who loves music and who is such a fertile ground for doing a show and tell of the store and Hi Fi in general to. I know that if they are given a good experience they can turn into fantastic Hi fi enthusiasts and potentially become a long term customer. Hopefully young people can still earn a decent wage here so as to be able to afford good music in their home without having to steal it...