Walsall felt tense today. Despite internet rumours, there had not been any of the rioting that plagued nearby Birmingham the night before. However, everyone seemed to think that there would be.
Gangs of pubescent kids hung around outside the Saddler's Centre, watching the High Street. They appeared excited, waiting for it all to kick off. All along the shopping centre, members of staff or security guards stood in doorways. At the first sign of trouble, they would be dashing inside to sound the alarm. Nobody could miss the police. They stood in groups or in pairs, highly visible, just a few yards between each cohort. Only the officers appeared relaxed. "There has been no trouble here. We've been here all day and nothing." One told me. "Lots of kids thinking there's something to see, but there really isn't."
That was true. Unlike Birmingham, no shop frontages were boarded up here. No massive clean-up operation had needed to take place. But while rumours abounded, then the police (and the young onlookers cloistered close to them) were out in force. While Birmingham had seemed quite relaxed, there was a palpable air of tension in Walsall.
Here are the photographs from Walsall's town centre, taken this afternoon.
(Thank you to Miyamashi, for helping me select the photographs. I really did take a lot!)