All was eerily calm last night as I made my way home - far fewer people than usual on the Tube, at Victoria, on the train... And then I got off at Carshalton - that suburban demi-paradise - and the place was in lockdown. The park locked, the shops closed and shuttered, the streets all but deserted - I could scarcely believe my eyes. But I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised - it's the classic pattern: massive overreaction when it's too late. Pile 16,000 cops onto the streets to fulfil their time-honoured role of standing around, close down shops and businesses and, hey presto, things quieten down. The stable door is most effectively locked, barred and triple-bolted - but, as Roy Campbell put it in another context, where's the bloody horse? Fled, in this case to return when the coast is clear.
In the meantime, though, there are at least hopeful signs that people - having had it so graphically demonstrated to them that they can't count on the police - are making their own ad-hoc security arrangements. They will surely be more effective than anything les flics currently have to offer.