Last night I was watching a BBC4 archive programme called Great Thinkers: In Their Own Words. There were Keynes and Beveridge and Attlee (spot the Great Thinker?) extolling the wonders of the impending New Jerusalem in which, thanks to benign state intervention, an age of peace and plenty would dawn and all social ills wither on the vine...Then came the News - and there, in our age of peace and plenty, were the grandchildren of the New Jerusalem ('these strange children, Pitiless in their ignorance and contempt', in Geoffrey Hill's phrase) rioting, looting, pillaging and burning their way across swathes of London.
Among the most saddening images was that of Reeves furniture store in Croydon - just a couple of miles down the road from me - ablaze, burning to the ground. Reeves Corner has been a local landmark, part of the geography, all my life - and for generations before (the company is 140 years old) - and now it's gone, for no reason at all. What makes it even worse is that it was - in its older, artsy-crafty parts - an attractive and interesting building, in a town that can ill afford to lose many of those.
The one upside of all this is that it's yet further proof that London is a city unfit to host a modern Olympic Games. Call it off now!