On balance

on balance Friday’s blog about the joys of living in the relatively crime-free areas of Norfolk made me think that sometimes we can be equally judgemental about life in the city. I can’t pretend that crime levels near where we now live in London are as low as they are in Norfolk, but neither do we feel particularly threatened or under siege.

I realise the risk of tempting fate here, but in the 12 years we have lived in this part of London we have escaped more or less unscathed crime-wise. The car alarm has gone off a few times and someone nicked a friend’s bike from the garden, but I think, on balance, we’ve probably caused more disturbances than we’ve suffered.

I’d like to harrumph to the police, the council and the railways about the graffiti on the railway bridge outside my daughter Cleo’s bedroom window, but since one of them spells out “Good Morning Cleo” I think I might let sleeping tags lie.

And it’s hard to get on my high horse about rowdy teenagers when you go out leaving older teenagers in charge of an 18th birthday party and come home to discover that one of your daughter’s friends got into such a huff that he decided to cycle home through the garden fence. A few minutes later he’d decided to come back, again, via the fence, but didn’t even have the grace to return through the same hole…

The commotion brought half the street out to see if they could help, only to find my daughter, painted from head to toe in blue body paint, telling the cycling equivalent of Evil Knievel exactly where he could place his bike next time. Never argue with a Smurf.

Subsequent parties have been far more sedate. I tiptoed back at dawn from another, again having left them in the care of younger, tougher family friends last summer to find nothing more untoward than a Zimmer frame in the garden. I made sure it was dropped off at the old people’s home up the road and we never spoke of it again. What happens out of the day room stays out of the day room.

For a trained newspaper reporter I can be amazingly dim at spotting what’s under my nose. I came home from walking the kids to school a couple of years ago to find a young bloke sitting on the kerb next to our house. He was bleeding from a cut lip and holding his head.

The flags on our cobbled street can be lethal when wet, so I sympathised and asked if he’d like to come in for a cup of tea and to wash his face. He looked at me as if I’d suggested we elope to South America and limped away as fast as his dazed and bruised legs would carry him. I thought nothing more about it till my neighbour came home from work that evening and came shrieking over to say she’d had a break-in. It looked, she said, as if the burglar had escaped out of the front bedroom through the first floor window….

“Did you see or hear anything?” she asked. “Well, yes and no,” I said, offering her a nice cup of tea for the shock.

So yes, I am pathetically naïve when it comes to spotting ne’er-do-wells, but I’d rather go round in blinkers and rose-tinted glasses and trip up occasionally, than frighten myself to death seeing drug dealers and muggers in pin sharp technicolour on every street corner.

What do you think? Should we be hyper alert to the dangers around us or can ignorance sometimes be bliss? Let me know by posting a comment below or tweeting @AmandaAtCandis

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