A strange eerie kind of feeling all over the area tonight. I was on my way back from Wandsworth and seeing the kids and because traffic was light - it is August lets not forget - I thought I'd drive around the two boroughs. So your not-so-intrepid reporter has been to a lot of the main bits of H&F and K&C tonight just to see what it's like.
In a very London kind of way, at least in all the bits I went to, it's like the confusion we all have when the weather forecast is for a snow day. Lots of people, slightly inappropriately dressed, prepared for some imagined dreadfulness and wearing a discernable sense of disappointment. It's as if we all love grim news so much that we feel slightly let down when things are not as awful as the man on the telly said it would be. Shops have closed early, the staff in the Pizza Express I was in with the kids spent most of our time there taking the vast wine display behind the bar down and storing it in the back somewhere.
Every so often on my little journey, I would round a corner and come across more police vans than you'd see at a Chelsea v Fulham home game, nestled inconspicuously in a back road, covered in scratched graffiti from Saturday night and bristling for a scrap. (Actually, that last bit about wanting a scrap isn't right. After the 80's riots and the Scarman report of the time the Police have, in my opinion at least, learned to be less random and violent than the rioters - it's a useful skill in parenting and it's one the Met have sort of learned..then kind of forget for the G7..and then remember again).
If you love this wonderful town then you learn to notice its moods and tonight is an odd one. As I'm writing and trying to keep up with the news reports I can't help but think how you can almost taste it when things are not right. The days after 7/7 and that weird feeling about public transport that eventually wears off but only slowly. I remember watching planes flying in to Heathrow on unusual flight paths after 9/11 and imagining all kinds of horrors.
And the good bit? Well, yes I think there is one and it's #riotcleanup. Just another example of how humanity shapes technology, not the other way around. People all over the Uk are finding out how they can help and in a beautifully British way, in a swings and roundabouts, checks and balances way, using social media to gather and simply help to make things better. It's a touching and wonderful example of how our lovely shiny new 2.0 toy gives voice to the silent majority.
At least as far as I can see from Earls Court things are quiet here in the boroughs tonight. As my mum's generation would have said in the blitz - 'the brummies are getting it tonight'. I hope it holds, hope everyone is safe, I hope the baddies are banged to rights as DC promised and as Blackberry seem to be helping but most of all, I hope the web helps balance the odds a bit and shows that a violent, noisy minority are just that and will be dealt with appropriately.
One last thought - the French are an intolerant lot and banned Burqas in a way I hope we would think twice or more times about in this country. I would however have a lot of time for a law about hoodies. It's very difficult legislating against items of clothing I grant you so how about this?
Perhaps we can either:
1) Make pariahs of retailers who sell hoodies - interesting to notice Debenhams in Clapham junction being torched by many of their former customers. Lets avoid JD Sports, Matalan, Debs and wherever else they sell riot disguise?
2) Or maybe make hoodies compulsory garments for convicted sex offenders - just a thought but they might lose their charm for the chavlets on our streets.
Hope everyone is safe tonight.