Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Who watches the watchers ?

Today being my day off, I have been waiting for the man from Taylor Wimpey to come round and fix some things for me. He did eventually turn up, and get someone working on some of the issues reported at the last visit he had just after I moved in.

He did reveal that the cupboard that goes under my work top, where the great big gap is that was left for a dishwasher, even though I had stipulated that I don't have, and would never have one, so didn't need the space, was on site and just needed to be fitted. He said that it had been here for some time, but had been put to one side and forgotten about. Which he apologised for. I'd rather they hadn't forgotten about it, but I haven't exactly been put to any inconvenience because of it, and it was good of him to be so honest about it. I can't stand bullshit.

The painter came over not long after, as agreed, and started work on the walls in the hall and stairs, which has some bits that were missed, or marked. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Dave, as I call him, because that is his name, is also going to get someone to have a look at the drain-away for the shower in the en-suite, as it is not clearing as quickly as the shower kicks out the water. This means that if you have a shower longer than about 8 minutes, you end up with a little foot bath, where you didn't intend to have one. If the shower is for some reason very long, there is a danger that the water going in to the shower tray is not running away, and it could overflow onto the floor.

Dartmouth Steam Railway
Later on in the day, I managed to arrange with work, and with Helen (she works from home as a travel agent, so if you ever need a holiday booking... get her to do it for you... - link is her business email). Chloe and I are back off to sunny Paignton in August.

We had such a great time there last year, Chloe absolutely loved the idea of going back there again. There really is so much to do, and we only touched the surface of all the places to go, despite getting to something every day. Beautiful part of the world. If you haven't been, you really should. Tell them that Simon sent you. They'll wonder what the hell you are on about, but tell them anyway.

By the time Helen arrived at mine, excelling herself at being 3 hours late, I remembered that I needed to buy some more bread. So off to the shops we trekked. I am, despite the higher prices becoming fond of our local McColls. It's literally just down the road, and they are open all sorts of ungodly hours. What makes it such a great place to shop though, is the people that work there are so nice and friendly. I know it's a stereotype, but when I go in there, I know I'm speaking to a human being, a person, instead of some dead from the neck up corporate drone like you get in Tesco.

Anyhoo. I digress. On the way back from the shop, Helen and I were surprised to notice that one of the houses we passed, has a multitude of CCTV cameras on it (I counted 6). This did seem a little excessive. I have seen houses with the odd CCTV camera on them before, and I know that the United Kingdom is the country with the most number of CCTV cameras per head of population, but this really is taking the biscuit. Isn't it ?

The warning signs, numerous cameras and razor wire on the tops of the walls really does create this 'fortress Cosham' look. On one hand, it makes me wonder what sort of paranoid person would chose to daub their home in all this crap. On the other, I start to wonder what's in there that warrants all this security. Does the rather visible security entice the interest of the 'problem solving' thief who sees a gauntlet being raised, inviting them to overcome such systems. No system is fool proof, no system is impossible to break. If it can be made to work, it can be broken.

Whilst we remarked how astounding this was, and found great comedic value in such a setup, and what sort of person must be living on the other side of the barbed wire, in fortress Cosham, we had entirely failed to notice that we were being followed.

It was when we got to my front door, still laughing and joking about 'what sort of idiot would put that many cameras up' that the owner of the house in question caught up with us. When he did, he asked me why I was taking pictures of his security camera, to which I responded with the question of why he was taking footage of the street.

To his credit, he then recanted the story of how many times he had been burgled recently and how much loss he and his wife had suffered as a result. As ever with these things, it is the emotional scars, the fear, and the lost items that hold sentimental value. All of this I get. My parents were burgled last year. It was one of the motivating reasons for them moving. Naturally he's worried about his wife, and his 80 year old parents, who also live with them. I can understand all of that, but I'm not sure that I would want to create a prison for myself to live in. As much as such things keep people out, they also keep you in. Held captive in your own mind by the time and attention all of that must maintain focussing on the fear. Not good.

I can't say that I'm all that happy with the idea of anyone, being able to record footage of people walking down the street. Constant surveilance is something that imposes on the freedoms of those it observes. What right does any of us have to assume ownership in that way of a public space ? If you are on private property, and the owner wants CCTV, and warns you of that, then you make the decision to either accept it, or not go to that place. When the place where the cameras are erected means that they are recording footage of a public place, that's just down the road from a school, where your only choice to not get filmed is to not walk down that street... That's not right. It's a public road and pavement. I absolutely agree with his right to protect his property, and to do what he likes on his own land, that doesn't effect the enjoyment of others. But this ? A step too far ?

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