Adhesives of this, muh li’l bogl, will by now be fully cognisant of my penchant for relishing coincidences.
It’s a neurological condition, brought on by having nothing much to do. And it plays wonderfully well into my growing paranoia.
So (I hate it when people start every answer to a question ponderously, with ‘So…’. You need a sense of the heavily ironic to read this stuff, I’m sorry.)
So, the other night I took Hunzi out for his late-night outing. Across the road is a single-storey house, that is supposedly let to students. Outside the house was parked an expensive German car. Behind it, blocking its exit, a Mini.
Earlier that day, I had seen a man drive up to the house. His passenger was a woman of African appearance. He wore a beard (in fact, he may even have been growing it). They went inside.
I know few students of his age – early 30s – who drive upmarket, almost new BMWs, with left-hand-drive, registered in Germany. Understand, this is not London, where 30-somethings all drive expensive German cars. This is Boglington-on-Sea, where we all drive broken-down VWs, 1970s Land-Rovers with sheep in trailers, battered white vans and Fordson tractors.
I had noticed the car, with its F-for-Frankfurt plates, hanging around, parked in various nearby places, over at least the last six months. I had wondered what it was doing here, who drove it? But I had never seen anyone driving it.
I wondered too about the ‘students’ in the house. I have a son who is a student. He doesn’t live the way these ‘students’ do, he stays with a bunch of mates in the same places all year, the student-let contracts are for 11 months and he wants his money’s worth. These ‘students’ however seem to change over every few weeks.
And they are all, dare I mention it, of ethnic minority background. This has been the case for the past two years, that the house has been let to mostly women, identifiably of Indo-Pakistani, Micronesian and African heritage.
I had begun to worry too about the Frankfurt connection. I recalled the post-9/11 furore, the discovery of an al-Quaeda cell in Frankfurt, with links to the plotters. Who was this man? Why is he here? My paranoia grew.
As we passed the house, I heard a woman’s voice raised. I shrugged into my old-man disguise and shuffled on. Hunzi and I turned as usual into the first of the chain of paddocks between the main road and the houses, following the worn trail left by dogwalkers, illuminated between the vivid white streetlights over to our left, above the fields, and a brilliant moon shining from between scudding clouds.
Reaching the far end of the third paddock, where the path vanishes into the darkness of a hedgerow, where we usually turn round, the moon came out from behind a cloud, and I noticed something glinting in the long grass by the hedge. Instinct made me bend down and pick it up. It was a discarded soft-drink can.
And it was riddled with bullet-holes.
We lived on a farm. We had an air rifle, for the rats. Not that we ever managed to hit any. The boy and I used to shoot tin cans. They move slower than rats. So I know what a shot tin can looks like. It looked like this one.
There were five entry holes in front, but only three exit holes at the back. Low-power .22 air rifle, or pistol then. So at close range – the grouping was excellent. But the shooter had removed the spent pellets, crushed the can and tossed it in the long grass. It was a strange place to go for target practice, for all kinds of reasons I worked-out. I won’t go into them now, or we’ll be here all day.
Anyway, growing paranoia, next day I found myself wandering around B&Q’s spacious hardware shed. I’d gone in with a vague idea of checking out some prices, finding some tomato plants (too early), a thingy to unblock drains that you connect to your power drill (I’m sure somebody makes one).
At which, I came across the home security section and thought for a while about maybe the CCTV pack, a neat little camera with a phone app that for £100 sends images of visiting terrorists and 7th-Day Adventists on the doorstep to your phone.
Then I decided against it, for all kinds of reasons, etc.
And today I take Hunzi back across the road for his daily excursion round the sewage works, and there is a van parked down the side-road, and a power-lift and a pickup truck, they are from a CCTV company, and they are doing some kind of installation there, to keep us all safe in our beds.
I have a theory about CCTV.
You remember God?
And how we used to be told he was always watching over us, like the Eye of Horus?
Well, since we no longer do God, we seem to have turned to technology instead to give us that same comforting feeling.
Personally I hate it, that’s why I came here, to get away from Nanny, from God and from CCTV cameras. I like my privacy. I don’t want to feel comforted, to feel safe. I like feeling totally disconnected from society. No-one is threatening us, there are no burglars here, no muggers, no rapists lurking in the shadows. No-one even goes out after 10pm, except Hunzi and I. There are no shadows! The town council has abolished darkness.
With the new street lighting illuminating every corner of my home deep into what used to be the night, and now the CCTV cameras, I feel worse about everything than usual. I feel violated.
And with a shooter on the loose…
Get me out of here!
Okay, I’ve just had a Spam email offering me ‘Mini cameras – Internet cameras’…
I’m going to the understairs cupboard now. I may be gone some time.