Tuesday, March 11, 2003

A friend across the way who's at the epicentre of a mini crime-quake compares the neighbourhood to a frontier zone, complete with raids, armed skirmishes and defensive barricades. One draws strength from accounts of other frontier experiences. London, for example, in the early 18th century, "was in the grip of the worst crime wave in its history, with highwaymen, burglars and pickpockets preying on the populace, even in broad daylight. The city was in an administrative mess. Roads were deep in mud and poorly lit. A rabbit warren of hastily erected buildings became instant slums . . . The city of London and Westminster had a population of 660 000, and it was estimated that within the city walls lived over 10 000 professional thieves." Its officials were rotten to the core

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