I have always subscribed to the somewhat hackneyed cliche that an Englishman's home is his castle. I particularly love our own castle and the area in which we live in leafy SE London; I love the big and beautiful houses, the short walk to Crystal Palace and the farmers' market, the green leafiness of it all.
Unfortunately so do potential burglars. I was woken from a solo (MCD was out) semi-slumber at the early hour of 9.50pm (early, but I was knackered from little sleep the night before and trying to ease the sciatica cramp curiously in my leg and foot) by a man apparently of the notion that climbing through my bedroom window would afford him access to all the riches of China. Unfortunately for him, I didn't share the notion and he certainly wasn't expecting a 5ft screaming banshee to shoot out of bed, throw open the window and get in his face yelling 'Get off my fucking roof. I'm calling the police.' Duly alerted to my territorialism, he slid down the roof, back into next door's garden, whence he came and - I have to admit - seemingly sauntered off. At this point I realised I could keep yelling 'I'm calling the police', but it would be more helpful to actually call the police...
I have to say they were amazing. I've never actually seen them swing into action before, but within 10 minutes there were dogs, forensics, welfare officers and a helicopter. They even threw a dog onto the roof to track the scent. They took statements, fed me brandy, waited with me until a very shaken MCD returned, dusted for prints all over. This morning I have had a re-visit to check on me and give me crime prevention tips.
And here's the thing. I have always felt, if not inviolable in the house, at least well-protected. We have great neighbours, we recently installed a fuck-off massive gate and fence at the back and had new security double-glazing. And frankly it makes not the slightest bit of difference if an opportunistic son-of-a-bitch decides that he can pop the neighbour's fence, swing up a tree and in through an open bedroom window (this in itself makes me mad - his presumption that we would be stupid enough to go out for the night, leaving the windows open. Certainly the house was in darkness with only the porch light on, but really - he thought we were that stupid...?).
But now I'm severely shaken. Granted I'm writing this on no sleep, much coffee, races of adrenaline and no breakfast, but now my home doesn't feel quite so safe any more and I hate this man for that. I hate that he has - in part - tarnished a little of the dream of living here. I hate, that by his audacity and lack of morals and downright execrable way of life, he has destroyed my illusion of inviolability, of feeling protected, of making my husband worry about leaving me in the house alone - and making me anxious about it too.
I am obscurely and pervertedly pleased that the police labelled me a 'fighter' not a 'flighter'; that I - in sheer naive and incredulous outrage - stood up and yelled him off my roof (my head refuses to determine all the possiblities for damage and death that may have afforded), but at 4am this morning, patrolling because I couldn't sleep and there were noises, I felt small and afraid and worried.
We're extremely lucky this bastard (I must apologise for the swearing, but I am so mad) just ran off, but it could have been different. So lesson for today is: Install the security lights you've been putting off because of course you always shut your windows when you're out. Install a burglar alarm. Put gripper rods along your fence because they will always find a way in. And I hate that it has come to making our beautiful lovely lovable house a fortress; that we have to actively defend rather than enjoy. But if it stops some madman trying to crawl in through your window in the evening with the express intention of destroying your life, do it.