Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Neighbourhood Watch

I have said many times that its a funny old world that we live in.

Neighbourhood Watch is a case in question. The nanny state runs unchecked by sensible perspectives. Now, we are all corralled inside our metaphorical "walled castle" The issue is are we keeping ourselves walled in or other people excluded out.

The concept of banding together and lending mutual support to each other is a welcome one. However, sometimes this can be taken to far and becomes counter productive. Neighbourhood watch, is a lovely concept, that can be very positive in creating a sense of sharing with others.

Like all things in this world, unreal expectations lead to over kill and unfounded fears. Neighbourhood Watch in the wrong hands can have the same outcome. If you have the wrong people organising the locals and it eventually leads to a siege mentality. Everyone being warned to be extra careful about half baked threats.

Its like the parable of Elephants and Salt. The village idiot is walking around scattering grains of salt everywhere. When asked why he is doing it, the idiot says "its to keep the wild Elephants away." When its pointed pout that we don't have wild Elephants in England. The idiot replies - its good stuff, is salt.

What defines the typical Neighbourhood Watch fear merchant. Usually someone pretending to protect you from non existent or highly unlikely threat. All conjured up in the fear merchants own mind. But Neighbourhood Watch led fear, can lead to vigilantes mounting guard over an irrational expectation. Taking it in turns to spend the wee hours of the morning looking out half expecting to see their street fill up with pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and gun runners at the stroke of midnight.

Now we have car alarms, house alarms, automated flood lights, security television, movement detectors. All monitoring an almost empty street. As new technology is supposed to solve real problems. But it just enabled us to download digitised photographs of Jack and Jill from across the road in a coprophilic "ménage à trois" with Bill from next door.

Neighbourhood Watch and CCTV seem to go hand in glove. The CCTV is like a burglar alarm giving a false sense of security. That is until the someone comes along and steals the camera! 

But it gets worse with the fledgling "Global Neighbourhood Watch." The UK is eight hours behind Australia, which, in turn, is eight hours behind the USA. So when it's prime crime time in any of those places, it's late morning or early evening in the others. People are wide awake and if they are Wired types, they are also near their computers. The plan is to find neighbourhoods in the UK, USA and Australia that also have nocturnal monitoring systems that are also inhabited by computer users. They'll set up cameras in their garden and patch them into the Net.

Everyone gets watched over by everyone else. A community formed from a load of computer nerds with a repressed voyeuristic tendency. In our modern society, we now have more in common with fellow homeowners on the other side of the planet than we do with Fred living next door.

Now, my marina has a "Neighbourhood Watch" scheme. The members of which seem to be totally fixated on locking the marina gate. The majority who come and go in the marina seem to be fixated on leaving the gate open. Its a slapstick pantomime, a bit like "The Last of the Summer Wine" meets "Ello Ello" but on steroids!

But the marina Neighbourhood Watch gate keepers are a tenacious lot. Always out to lock the gate against the marauding hoards. - Who can if they wish - walk into the marina at any time day or night - irrespective of whether the gate is open or closed - by the simple act of walking over the lock gates! 


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