London's burning...

Overnight shifts aren't meant to be particularly busy, or stressful. Yes, someone needs to keep the wheels turning at 3am, but usually your biggest battle is to stay awake. Instead tonight I've been trying to count just how many districts of London are in flames.

Yesterday evening, making small-talk with my barber, I told him "it looks like it's kicking off again - Hackney this time".

Through the evening it spread - to Croydon, Ealing, Ilford. At 9, a friend called from Clapham, terrified. The shops below her flat were being smashed up, a fire started.

And all of this played out live on TV - riot police charging, cars on fire, a massive store in Croydon burned to the ground.

It's impossible to turn away from these images. But I can't help wondering if the trouble would have spread so far, and so quickly, if it hadn't been given the full-on breaking news treatment.

I'm certainly not arguing for censorship, and both BBC and Sky News, together with Radio 5 Live, BBC London and LBC, all featured official calls for calm.

But would the gangs in Clapham, Ealing, Liverpool and Birmingham have poured onto the streets if they hadn't watched the trouble in Hackney? And even if that's true, could that ever justify downplaying large-scale civil disobedience?