About five years ago, I was asked to be the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for the dozen cottages surrounding us. My husband was concerned (a) that it would be an arduous commitment in my already busy life and, (b) it might put me in some sort of danger. (I've already mentioned somewhere that he is extremely security-conscious.) To set his mind at rest, I took him to a meeting of the Neighbourhood Watch/Police liaison group, where we learned that in the previous year there had been 12 (sic) reported crimes in the whole village. Of those 10 had been motoring offences and 2 had been thefts from unlocked garden sheds.
I took up my duties, which involve delivering newsletters twice a year and passing on information from the police e.g. remember to close your front door when the grockles are around - it being the common practice here for doors to be open so that neighbours can pop in for the odd cup of coffee or sugar.
Alas, it has all changed. This week two windows were smashed, here on my very row of cottages! My husband heard it at 2am and hurried downstairs but, by the time he had got through his elaborate alarms, chains and mantraps and onto the street there was no-one to be seen. The next day, we had policemen conducting door-to-door enquiries; reinforcements had been drafted in from neighbouring police forces. Never, since the river burst its banks in 1988, has the village been so unsettled.