Looted at the Ledbury

Last week's edition of this self-important propaganda sheet was full of so-called experts pontificating about the riots. It was all theory and surmise, however, because they weren't there in the thick of it. I, on the other hand, was in the eye of the storm and can give you the view from the front line.

I don't usually go slumming in the capital's underbelly, but my delectable companion that night (I promised to keep her name out of this, so let's
just say it rhymes with Pippa Middleton) insisted that we dine at the Ledbury, a Notting Hill restaurant with a mere brace of Michelin stars.

I was halfway through my loin of Sika deer baked in Douglas fir with beetroot, bone marrow and salt, when a legion of louts in hooded sports tops literally crashed through the plate-glass doors. I turned to my guest and wittily observed, "There's no way they're going to get served dressed like that."

Amid the confusion, these interlopers went from table to table, demanding our valuables. I was forced to give up my £50,000 Rolex - I'd left my best watch at home - and my wallet, containing, among other things, several credit cards and a large sum in sterling, dollars and roubles. My "friend" remained seated, so the hoodlums weren't able to get their hands on her most valuable asset.

The room was traumatised as the mob ran off with its spoils. Remaining calm, I reached into my pocket for the remote control that I keep for exactly these circumstances. There was a bang and a scream from outside as the ounce of plastic explosive concealed in my wallet did its job.

Now, I understand that we can't all afford to booby-trap our personal possessions, but I think my anecdote expresses the need for lateral thinking in these challenging times.

Therefore, and this may surprise you, I think we should look anew at the words of Sir William Beveridge, father of the welfare state and inventor of the hot drinks machine. He said that the nation had to confront five giant evils: want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. While the first four of Beveridge's evils have been largely suffocated by an avalanche of taxpayers' money, idleness has led to mob rule in our streets - well, your streets. My street has private security guards with gun-shaped bulges in their socks.

Fatherless, feral gang members terrorise our towns because they have nothing better to do. If we could find them work, nine-tenths of them would cease to pose a problem. Sadly, they have no economic value to any employer.

Yet, even before the riots, there were estates to be cleaned, graffiti to be removed, canals to be dredged, waste sites to be decontaminated: work sufficient to employ millions of yobs. But we all know that there just isn't the money to pay even an insulting minimum wage. Under these circumstances, I think you'll agree that the time has come to reappraise the virtues of a system that once helped make this country great - slavery.

As told to Marks and Gran

This article first appeared in the 22 August 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The answer to the riots?