At 7.45 yesterday (Tuesday) evening the windows of Diesel on King Street had been smashed, and potential looters were waiting patiently for the police to go away and tackle disruption in Exchange Square. They didn’t look like the rioters who had congregated around Piccadilly Gardens earlier in the evening: no scarves over their faces, no small gangs, no abundance of Nike sports wear. They were unassuming looking couples, enticed by a free pair of £120 jeans.
Down one of the alleyways running from Cross Street to St Ann’s Square, I saw an Asian couple grab shirts from a boutique window and walk away smiling. A man in his early twenties grabbed a pair of green headphones from a pseudo-classical polystyrene bust lying on the floor and walked calmly away.
In St Ann’s Square I found myself boxed in with a few other people, including a photographer, by two banks of riot police. ‘Move back!’ the police in front of me shouted. ‘Forward! Forward!’ from the line behind. I flashed my notepad, and a plain-clothed officer waved me through. An old man in a tweed jacket was trying to have a civilised conversation with one of the riot police.
The photographer caught up with me. ‘This is great fun!’ he said.
The polystyrene bust was still on the floor. A Ford Fiesta pulled up, and a white teenager in a grey Nike tracksuit jumped out and grabbed it, his friends watching and laughing.
At the Bang and Olufsen shop two salesmen were outside inspecting the damage. The shutter had been ripped apart and thousands of pounds worth of hi-fi equipment lay on the floor. ‘How much have they taken?’ I asked. ‘They got away with enough,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand it. It’s mindless bollocks, it really is.’ The other salesman said: ‘Give me a bar, that’s all I need to fucking take them.’
Around the corner, two office workers walked out of Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green. The shop was comprehensively trashed. One of the men was clutching a short-sleeved, red-and-white checked shirt. ‘Aw it fits!' he said. 'Get in! And it’s £110!’