On the way home

Boys in navy blue blazers jostle each other outside the Marriott hotel, looks of uncertainty over what to do with so much privilege.

Metres away, skaters slam their boards into the paving slabs on College Green, while pedestrians march through the middle, determined to exert their right of way.

A small group gather on the grass, watching intently as a man gives a lesson on how to repair a bicycle puncture.

Further on, four men lounge in the shade of the cathedral, waiting for something. Close by is a tent pitched beneath a tree; the council turning a blind eye or quietly piecing together the paperwork to shift it?

The sky is ours

Their chanting beat against the morning stillness as Ahmed rolled the tyre along with a steady brush of his hand.

The youngsters grinned like it was a new game, but the others knew better. This was their duty.

Tarek looked back at the pillars of black smoke rising above the buildings. He was used to seeing the streets burn, but this was different. Today, they were the ones making the fires.

At a crossroads, Ahmed lay the tyre on the ground. The other children stood back while Tarek tipped the bottle of kerosene over it. When it was lit, another plume erupted, turning the air a dirty brown.

The children looked at each other, their stained faces fierce and proud while men and women cheered them on. Victory is ours, they cried. We’ve won back the sky.