On police advice, we closed two sites at lunchtime and sent the lads home. There is the acrid throat-stinging insult of major fires in the nostrils and the throat; two buildings have collapsed in the street and I'll bet these either side will need demolition. The forensic teams are out, and large areas are still cordoned off with tape, and PCSOs set to prevent entry. As I passed, a 6'6" African immigrant was trying to pick a quarrel, trying to provoke the 5'6" PCSO in front of him; the thought came unwanted to my mind "you don't even f-----g belong here, c--t," and I was amazed at my own racism.
There is a line of plods in normal kit walking up and down the High Street between the (intact) Wetherspoons and the (trashed) Paddy Power. Just beyond their beat lean little clumps of feral blacks, hoods up, waiting. They trickle in, yapping on their mobiles, woolen scarves pulled around their heads. I feel violent. I make direct eye contact with a loping caramel youth and glare; he returns my glare with hate and hostility in his face. "C'mon then! C'mon then!" goes the thought in my mind, but he doesn't. I'm a big lad and I've got my steel toecap site boots on today.
Another black on a bike is doing a recce, in shorts and tee but head in a balaclava. He spins about, clocking the plods, nods to his feral fellow-creatures, on a mission. The last late shoppers are waiting for the few buses that trickle through; the market stalls have all gone by 3pm, intact shops are closed and shuttered. The illegal mobile unlocking stall and it's square-shoed Albanian proprietor is still trading; no doubt he'll do good business.
We're in lockdown and waiting quietly. The threat is palpable. At home I check my two 6kg extinguishers and two 1kg dry powder ones; puny and ineffective against petrol bombs. When they looted the pub they threw burning crates in, and then a 20l can of petrol on top. Tonight we'll be waiting - there's a feeling that the way it goes later tonight will be critical.