There were moments when it seemed to Detective Constable Dangerous Davies that mayhem moved into his path, marking him purposefully out, isolating him, and then engulfing him, like those small individual whirlwinds that travelled around in parts of America and which he had seen on television. It was so on this ordinary damp night in early October as he and Mod Lewis, the unemployed Welsh philosopher, were walking to their lodgings at 'Bali Hi', Furtman Gardens, London NW, from an evening at The Babe In Arms public house. They were humming as they walked.
At the Neasden end of Power Station Lane, under the drizzle of the cooling towers, they heard the distant but unmistakable sounds of a fracas. Davies halted like a troubled dog. 'A punch-up,' he said. Mod stood, his face damp and moon-pale in the drizzle. His heavy head rolled to one side as he listened.
'Singing,' he ventured. 'They're only singing. Tuesday's not a fighting night.'
A crash like cannon fire came from the far end of the street. 'Somebody going through a door,' said Davies.
At once, the singing became louder, less enclosed. 'Irish,' he added. 'I suppose we'd better have a look.'
'You're the policeman,' said Mod, standing still.
Davies sighed: 'All right. I'll go. You ring the law. It sounds like a three-dog job to me.'
'Do you happen to have ten pence?' asked Mod.
'You have to ring 999,' Davies said. 'It's free.' Mod went off into the windy drizzle. Tentatively, Davies went along Power Station Lane to where he could see the riot . . .