As it turns out the freebie Freeview has come in surprisingly handy. Not, you understand, for actually watching telly (it turns out my television is so old, so archaic, that the box won't even plug in to it – so it's back to channels one to four, and very occasionally five, for me). Nope, Freeview has found an alternative purpose in life: a fresh incarnation, as Potential Rioter Decoy (PRD).
There are times when living above an east London branch of Cost Cutter is very useful indeed. It's great when you've run out of eggs – they stock free range organic at half the price of Sainsbury's. It's brilliant for picking up a paper enroute to work – never once have I found them without either i or The Independent. Sometimes, I pop down just for a chat and a stick of gum. The guys behind the tills know me and I know them. They've been entrusted with my keys, passport and various special deliveries I couldn't sign for.
As I said, very useful indeed. Except when there are riots afoot. With fires blazing in my local high street, the Tesco and the betting shop being ransacked by hooligans of all shapes and sizes, living above a Cost Cutter suddenly seemed, on Monday night, rather less useful. It was boarded up, of course (everywhere was) but who knew what hoodlums will do when there are free-range eggs at stake?
And so it was that my freebie Freeview found a new home – away from my TV, where it was no use anyway, and perched, somewhat precariously, on a stool next to my window. From the comfort of several stories up, I had my scheme. Should those pesky hoodies head up my way, attempt anything untoward, they wouldn't know what had hit them. But I would: my freebie Freeview. It would be my PRD, my something shiny to distract the numbskulls with while I, well ... I'm not sure what I'd do. I hadn't got that far.
Of course, I wouldn't have actually enacted the plan. It was ridiculous and wouldn't have worked. And I had no need to. Despite the fires burning five minutes down the road, and ransacking further up my street, my little patch of Tower Hamlets remained intact – at the time of writing at least. The shops may have been boarded up, the pavement deserted, but from my vigil post, the only stealthy activity I could see was my local pub, stealthily letting in regulars. For the sake of my Freeview, I'm glad.