I made sure I went home first: I was told that wandering about in a suit would not be a good idea.
I spoke to a few people that had been out over the previous few nights, and they told me to hide the fact that I'm a journalist. Cameras had been smashed on the ground and reporters beaten up. I suppose it had been an attempt to prevent rioters being identified later on. It's perhaps also indicative of a feeling that mainstream media wouldn't represent their views.
I headed out at about 8:30 p.m. and walked up New Road onto Whitechapel Road. I'd heard Hackney was already closed off and Clapham was just beginning to see some action but I wanted to stay reasonably close to home.
Walking east, past the Royal London Hospital, I saw a few smashed windows and signs of damage but nothing like the BBC images had shown from other areas. There were significantly more ambulances about and a few fire engines too. I was tracking Twitter as I walked and trying to speak to people on my phone to find out where there were riots, all the while trying to look as little like a journalist as possible.
I carried on walking and it wasn't until I passed the White Heart pub and approached Genesis cinema that I began to see any hives of activity.
A crowd had gathered. Maybe 100 people. I walked through the densest area, keeping my head down and finding a spot near the Tesco Express that I could watch from and feel safe using my phone. About 10 riot police stood nearby but that was about it. Then a banging came from inside the Tesco Express.
Police reacted wondering what was happening. The shutters came up and people walked out. It was the staff. They had locked themselves in after the shop had been looted and the windows smashed. They had wanted to get the attention of the police to make sure it was safe for them to come out. A security guard told us that around 30 to 40 rioters had rushed into the shop to loot it, before returning a little later to smash the windows.
More police then turned up and began moving the crowd on, not arresting anyone, just shooing people in different directions. Small groups of people would dart between small groups of police. They would disappear down backstreets then reappear two minutes later. A journalist friend of mine arrived and we crossed the road.
Although there were people there was little happening. It's worth pointing out that because of Ramadan, you can expect to find a lot of people out late around Whitechapel anyway, so distinguishing between rioters and others was not always easy. These are just people after all. Sometimes it was just a crowd.
I was told by my friend that Mile End was a ghost town. Shops had been boarded up and there was no one on the street.
We decided to walk back toward Whitechapel tube station as we had seen a lot of police cars go past in that direction. As we were walking, one riot van pulled over and some riot police jumped out and started running west down Whitechapel high street. We chased after them, wondering what they were running after.
They jogged past the tube station and then past a JD Sports. We stopped. The shop's windows were smashed. As we started taking photos the shopkeeper started shouting "stop taking pictures of my livelihood," before running away.
We carried on walking up and down the road, and saw children with metal poles hitting bikes chained to railings along the way. We saw bus stops have the glass smashed out of them. We saw a group of rioters running away from a Natwest which they had smashed the windows of, along with the neighbouring Idea Store.
One child with a metal pole was overheard telling his friend "my mum just called me," to which his friend replied "your mum is there," pointing. A bus then drove past with all its windows smashed out.
We lost track of the groups we had been following, all of them scuttling down different alleyways. Inside the Royal London hospital we asked a staff member if there had been an increase in the number of causalities they would normally expect on a Monday night. They said they weren't allowed to tell us but that it had been "OK" and not excessive in A&E.
They added that we should not be out reporting. She had heard on the TV that Tower Hamlets wasn't safe. But this wasn't really the impression we had gotten when walking around. It was threatening on the streets, but we never felt like we were in direct danger.
My friend and I were due to meet up with another journalist we knew. We arranged to meet her at the end of Cambridge Heath Road but as we were waiting we heard some loud bangs coming from around Genesis Cinema.
We ran up and found people setting off fireworks. It wasn't gunshots. A crowd had gathered again, though. It seemed peaceful. Riot police arrived and people scattered and there was little violence to be seen. Police charged a gang on one corner but they just ran down an ally and police quickly gave up the chase.
Our friend joined us and we saw another journalist wandering around with two cameras around his neck. He was braver than us. We had agreed not to bring any cameras with us for fear that they would get smashed and draw attention to us. It was a strange situation.
At previous protests, I have had no issue in telling both police and protesters that I am a journalist. On this occasion, I was trying to blend in with the rioters, yet trying to keep my distance so as to not become too suspicious to police. Clearly, my disguise was not brilliant.
As the activity died down outside Genesis cinema, we took some photos of broken windows before heading into the surrounding council estates. We tried speaking to one group who seemed in high spirits. Initially they thought we were undercover police. We tried to convince them that we were students at the nearby Queen Mary University but they wanted ID. They didn't like us being there.
We tried to ask them if they had seen anything and what was going on -- and they instantly said we shouldn't ask questions, telling us to leave. The increasing flurry of obscenities being hurled at us drilled the message home and we left, deciding to wander further up the road toward Stepney.
Police were guarding the entrance to a small retail park which housed a Halfords, Currys and PC world. We took a few photos on our phones and then moved into another estate.
We passed a few groups and eventually started speaking to a group of four boys. They again thought we were undercover police but this time we told them we were journalists. They laughed asking us if we were looking for a riot. We asked them if they had seen anything and they said they hadn't. They were pretty happy to speak to us though. They said that in their area, any rioting was just because people wanted to loot stuff and get new clothes. It was different from the Tottenham riots, where things were more justified, they said. They didn't think people felt disenfranchised on their estate but that they simply had nothing to lose through the mob mentality.
People think they can get away with it, they said.
We moved on, returning to Whitechapel. Everything was a lot quieter than it had been and the two people I was with decided to call it a night. I walked home past the Royal London Hospital and the scene there was quitter too. It was about 11 p.m.
At home, my flatmate said she saw people carrying clothes and an unboxed hoover down the road and that there had been a lot of police traffic. The other Tesco nearby had apparently been hit, said my local shopkeeper, but that was about all. I turned on my computer. My night was certainly nothing like the images coming out of Croydon or Hackney. But the sentiment, perhaps, was similar.