Razor wire or a rotty?
By James Clarke
Our suburban stockade is among many other fortifications on the far northern edge of Greater Johannesburg – right on the frontier so to speak. It has security that would be the envy of a nuclear arsenal.
I suppose it is not surprising that we haven’t had a serious theft in our 73-house complex since it went up 26 years ago, yet our insurance people insist we all have panic buttons. They installed three in my house. They don’t work and I’m glad. The thought of operational panic buttons in my house has me sitting bolt upright in bed.
The problem is that some people have extremely low panic thresholds.
For years we lived outside a stockade in a house in suburbia with each home surrounded by a lawn and a little fence. Our house was user-friendly to burglars who would pop in and out. Yet what scared its female inhabitants most? Mice! Oh yes, and cockroaches. These created such pandemonium that neighbours on both sides would rush out firing shots into the air and cause men between 18 and 45 to muster.
Security firms are somewhat loose in their definition of what constitutes an emergency, even so you pay a penalty if your panic call is considered unjustified – like if it was because the milk boiled over. Alone in the house my wife might well push the button if the dog cocks an ear.
Now what does one say to the security firm’s divisional commander who, minutes later is filling your doorway licensed to kill, and whose men are taking up positions in the shrubbery? While people like you and me would go into a foetal position my wife would brazen it out and tell them, “The dog cocked an ear”.
“It what?” he would say.
“Cocked an ear. Dogs don’t cock ears for nothing and certainly not Bouviers-des-Flandres such as our dog over there with one of your corporals in its mouth. Your timely arrival patently averted a calamity and I must thank you accordingly, General. Good day to you.”
The latest security leaflet worries me greatly, mainly because I cannot recall how I came by it. One minute I was standing there looking at my shoes the next I was holding this leaflet offering a new type of security service – “para-medicals trained in combat”. This conjures up the image of a bruiser holding a heavy night stick in one hand and Band Aid in the other.
It said their guards would move in and take over “at the least sign of trouble”. Like if you don’t pay their account.
What I like about living where I live is that it is secure without being too obvious.
It has several kilometres of razor wire; many kilometres of electrified wire: a 12 km long wall; an outer perimeter steel mesh fence; two dozen security guards on 24-hour duty and two heavily boomed entrances.
But, of course, not all suburban complexes are so relaxed. Some take security very seriously indeed…
Picture it: Felicity (a new bride in full glow sitting driving with her husband: Darling, just look – “Country style! The Village Secure”!
Bert (running his eye along the extra high walls topped with razor wire): l think, my sweetheart, this is a nuclear arms research establishment.
Felicity: No, my darling, this is normal nowadays. Look, it’s even got retractable spikes across the road.
Bert: But surely, sweetness, this is but one step from installing watchtowers with searchlights.
Felicity: Oh angel pie, don’t be absurd!
Bert: Listen, Honey Child, let’s just stay where we live now and buy another Rotty.
Felicity: (Giggling) Baby shoes, I think we are having our first little tiff…
Bert: Snookums! What? You mean you’re pregnant? That does it! We stay. I want our child to be born free.