I am a Londoner born and bred, and know Croydon well. The very first concert I ever attended was Ralph McTell at the Fairfield Halls way back in 1973. Croydon has a somewhat mixed reputation; in recent years there have been a number of murders there, including that of Sally Ann Bowman by sicko Mark Dixie
. Before that, its most infamous murder was that of PC Sidney Miles by Christopher Craig in November 1952. Ralph McTell wrote a song about that
, but there has been little for anyone to sing about in Croydon or anywhere else in this country after the riots which left a handful of people dead, a toll that could have been a great deal worse, especially in view of the arson attacks here and elsewhere.
You can read a report on the sentencing of House of Reeves arsonist Gordon Thompson here
. Last August, after seeing Trevor Reeves and his father interviewed on the BBC, I wrote that the House of Reeves
had died. I am now happy to report that as with Mark Twain, my report of its demise was premature. This afternoon when I spoke to Mr Reeves, he was cautiously optimistic about the future.
AB: The guy who torched your store got eleven and a half years. Were you happy with that considering he could have got life?
TR: Yes and no; the charge of arson with intent to endanger life which is a charge that would carry a very heavy sentence was dropped to 'arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered' as the former would be difficult to prove.
AB: I think it's fair to say that the sight of your firm going up in smoke has become an icon of the riots. You have though survived. Have you had to downsize again?
TR: We've laid off one porter; we now have eleven or twelve staff plus a few temporary staff as things vary.
AB: It has been said there has been a change in the atmosphere in perhaps especially Croydon since the riots. Do you agree with that?
TR: That's my impression of the general atmosphere from people who come into the shop. This is purely anecdotal, others may not agree.
AB: Are you still getting a lot of feedback?
TR: We've heard from quite a few journalists from across the world, and members of the public. The e-mail has gone botty today; we've received about a hundred and fifty. [Due to the trial].
AB: What are your plans for the future?
TR: We plan to invest so as to make the shop the best we can make it. We still have the other site, we own half of it.
AB: Did you get paid out?
TR: We have no real problems with insurance.
AB: Finally, I found a leaflet
in Sydenham yesterday that referred to the riots as a rebellion. What do you think of that claim?
TR: I suppose some people might call it that. There were people who were caught up with the stupidity, there were gangs, and there were people coordinating it. It's one thing to hold a grudge, but bashing things up, everybody will have had their own reasons, but that's not an excuse.
AB: Trevor Reeves, thank you very much.