He was right, of course. I was in Hackney – which, that evening at least, was a law-free zone. That’s the worst thing about riots. Across much of London on Monday night, if someone had decided to break down your door and rape your daughter, there would have been nothing to stop them. There would have been no one to call. When I was mugged, I was on my way home from a day in Tottenham, listening to the stories of the people who had lost far more and been at far greater risk than me, burned out of their homes at 30 seconds’ notice. They called 999 too, frantically, desperately, as the riot moved closer. There were 100 police just up the road. The emergency operator could do nothing but listen to their terror. I finished my journey in a cab. Three or four times, we had to stop and skirt round hooded boys spilling into the road, our windows closed and the door lock on. If they had fancied my taxi, there would have been nothing I or the driver could have done about that, either. Even on Monday, the victims of Tottenham, black and white, were already tired of outsiders blaming racism, police brutality, or cuts. (What were they rioting about in prosperous, suburban Enfield – rising season-ticket prices?) The real reason for the rioters’ behaviour is much simpler: because they can. Forget BlackBerry Messenger. After seeing — on television — how much leeway the looters of Tottenham were allowed, every criminal and every excitement-seeking child in London took note. By the next day, critical mass had been achieved. Disorder had erupted on a scale much more difficult to suppress than the original outbreak.