I THOUGHT long and hard before I bought the baseball bat and tucked it away beneath the carpet in the car boot.
The machete under the bed I can justify to myself: anyone coming up those stairs in the dark is clearly up to no good and is therefore going to get it. Similarly, the sawn-off pool cue tucked away in the hall near the front door. Both are defensive weapons, for use only against significant intruders, and while their use might not necessarily be deemed as “reasonable force”, at least I’d have a fighting chance in court.
Not so the baseball bat in the car. That might well also be for protection in these dysfunctional days, but its very location leaves me open to a charge of possessing an offensive weapon. So what to do?
After several weeks of pondering, I drove into the local sports shop on the way home from work and purchased a 32-inch Louisville Slugger in white ash for a very reasonable £31.99. But that wasn’t all. A further £6.99 bought me an authentic leather-bound baseball, and the master plan was put into action.
For the next week I took the dog out every evening, as well as the bat and ball. The bat I dragged along the dry stone walls and generally dented; the ball I threw for the dog until it was suitably chewed up. The bat then went into the car boot and, crucially, so did the ball.
So ask me, officer, what I’m doing with a baseball bat in my car and I’ll happily tell you. I use it to hit a ball around and exercise the dog. Look, there are the teeth marks.
Of course, instead of quizzing me over why I’m transporting a potentially offensive weapon, the cops might be better off asking themselves why an ordinary, middle-aged, middle class, white male should feel the need to carry a hefty club in the first place. But that’s a far more complicated argument, and one no-one seems to want to tackle at the moment.
THE REASON I mention this dilemma is that the Association of Chief Police Officers appears to have given up on the idea of having coppers patrolling our streets and is now suggesting that we might like to do it ourselves.
The idea is that teams of Neighbourhood Watch members could spy on villains, patrol crime-hit areas and check cars for out-of-date tax discs. There is even a suggestion that “secret” teams might get together to gather intelligence on possible wrongdoers.
I can see several problems with this frankly idiotic plan. Firstly, anyone who has ever lived in a rural village will know how they are riven with snobbery, jealousy and petty feuds. The idea of letting the deranged curtain-twitcher at Snout’s Cottage gather “intelligence” about her neighbours reminds me of East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.
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