I felt genuinely sorry for the cops and criminals outside my flat last night. They were like a pair of tired old tap-dancers in an empty hall, going through the old routine one last time without interest or enthusiasm.
Two youths (ill-fitting baseball caps, branded t-shirts, tight tracksuits with the trousers tucked into socks to display their white trainers) decide to start hitting each other, right in front of the police car which has just come round the corner. They weren't very good pugilists: even I could have landed more telling blows. The police officers sit there for a second, clearly deciding whether or not it was worth even bothering to get out of the vehicle. Eventually they do. The 'fight' stops and the kids submit to the rozzers without any show of defiance or injustice.
For all concerned, it was like an ancient religious ritual whose significance has long been lost - as meaningless and regular as the weather. The teens bore each other and the police no ill-will, and the officers were kind to them in a weary kind of way, no doubt resigned to a pile of administration over a petty argument, leading to no further action.
It certainly wasn't like The Bill, which is going out on a high.