Saturday, 31 January 2009

Big Brother

One of our friends is a detective. Well actually, two of them are, but that's an accident of geography, not habit. One day we ran into him and he turned to me with an evil grin and said, "Who were you kissing in town last Wednesday?"

Apparently they had been conducting some sort of street surveillance operation from the upstairs floor of a shop. As he watched the screen I appeared, accosted a woman, and gave her a hug and a kiss. "I know that man," he told his colleagues, and they watched on with interest.

The embarrassing thing was that, while I could remember running into someone, I couldn't for the life of me remember who. This didn't seem very plausible at the time. In fact it still doesn't. The Social Secretary started giving me funny looks and finding reasons to come shopping with me. So if by any chance you can remember being kissed by me in Earl Street on a Wednesday, would you very much mind contacting her?

It just shows the opportunity to misbehave (not that I was, you understand) is dwindling. It was bad enough in Essex in the 1960's. The Rodings (always pronounced 'Roothings') being terribly flat, I had to cycle miles to find a tree behind which I could drag on a discreet Consulate with a reasonable chance of not being spotted. Consulate of course, in the belief that the menthol would disguise the smell of tobacco (the innocence of youth; I also believed that we could end war and that I would become rich).

Because teenage drivers who should be wearing green Ps keep bumping into us in the lanes, my latest toy is a tiny camera which sits on the dashboard and continuously records the view ahead onto an SD memory card. The whole thing cost £25 from Hong Kong, which is less than the card alone would cost here. And it might just save me shed-loads in lost no-claims bonuses. Not to mention proving that the traffic light really did change too late to stop. Or that the police patrol car did indeed make an illegal U-turn on the dual carriageway.

The other fun thing about the recorder is that I can say things like, "You know when you drove down to the stables last Wednesday? Why did you stop under the bridge for several minutes, then turn round and park outside 22, Focaccia Avenue?"

Not that I would.


  1. There used to be a site somewhere on the interned, probably still is, where you can watch live webcam images. I was absolutely amazed when I realised how many places have a web cam on them that is broadcasting live feed. In London they are everwhere, and I could be captured about a dozen times on the walk from the train station to work. Not surprising really. But eveb places like Bewl Water, and supposedly deserted mountains have them! I must go and check if that site is still there...

  2. It is my sole ambition in life to do something worth recording on hidden surveillance equipment... ;-)

  3. My sister has two; they are usually trained on her cat (which is about 19, prone to fits and sleeps the rest of the time) so they can check on him while they are out. They never go anywhere without a laptop. They point one at our hamster when she holidays with them so the kids can check on her while we are away. Because the kids thought this was great they bought me one (camera I mean). Interestingly the kids (quite rightly) regarded a camera in their own house as an infringement on their civil liberties and it is usually not plugged in. I plugged it back in the other day when I spotted it while dusting (a rare occurence and I needed a break) so I can now sit upstairs watching my youngest slumped on the settee watching TV. I think I'll unplug it again.

  4. It would be far too embarrassing to have a camera trained on my house as it would record the number of times I have to set off and then go back again for something I'd forgotten.

    So are you watching all your wife's journeys in the car?

  5. I too am observing you - through your blog that is! ;-> Aloha-

  6. Justme - There is a site. I love to e-visit places I know...the Cuillins from Sligachan Hotel...the ski-lift at Combloux. I also have an urge to wave at the web cam in Maidstone High Street.

    Steve - So that wasn't you with the two traffic cones outside the Cask & Bottle tnen?

    Completely - Remote hamster sitting? That is really wired! I'm with your children on the home camera front though.

    Lulu - You could try walking backwards, to make it look like a replay?
    No I'm absolutely not watching all her journeys (even if she were not the most trustworthy of partners - which she is!)

    Cloudia - What a nice thought. We are all our own webcams, shining light on our separate worlds.

  7. How spooky to think your friend was watching you accost, um I mean say hello, to women in the street. Any chance he can grab it and play it back to you?

    I hate the thought of being secretly watched - unless it's through a keyhole (remember Keyhole Kate - it just flashed into my head)

  8. No-one has time to watch all this stuff though.

    If you had one at home - you would be watching other people living rather than living yourself. Odd!

    We do have webcams on our laptops and my sons use those when chatting to their pals on Skype and stuff - I have to be careful to ensure I am properly clothed if I venture in their rooms and make sure I speak in a manner suitable for outsiders.

  9. T'weren't me Mrs Tobias - honest!

    You'd know if it were, 'cos he'd remember!

    Yes I've got one of those tiny recorders for both camera/sound but mine was both crap and £35 from Japan on e-Bay.

    Don't film Mrs BT at the stables by the way - you might catch her kissing a horse!

  10. It wasn’t Earl Street…Heheh… me thinks the SS ought to hire a detective…

  11. By way of some interesting thoughts: Can one buy two foccacia’s for the price of one in Foccacia Avenue?

  12. My God BT is nowhere safe? I find myself taking tips from spy novels about how to remain anonymous (predpaid mobile phones, cash purchases, etc) for no reason than feeling grumpy about invasion of privacy etc. The other day I went to buy some foreign currency and, because I was paying with my debit card, had to produce my passport (??!!) - apparently if I'd been paying by cash it wouldn't have been an isssue. Which speaks volumes about the logic behind trying to catch money-launderers... That's my rant over with. How can you possibly have forgotten kissing a strange woman?

  13. BT - could you send me the link to the site where one can watch live feed, please? I've been looking for such a place for ages. Ta.

  14. Fancy - It was a wee while back, so probably not. Gosh, Keyhole Kate! I'd forgotten about her.

    RB - How wise. The thought of becoming an accidental internet clip doesn't bear thinking about.

    Laura - The instructions that came with mine were hopeless, so I thought it didn't work, until I got there by trial and error.

    EV - Is 'e' you too? I'm so insular that I've only lately learned how to pronounce 'foccacia'. (I used to say it as if I didn't much care for the largest continent).

    Lucy - It's absurd, isn't it. Have you tried to buy a car lately? They won't take a cheque, even if you are prepared to wait for it to be cleared. It has to be a banker's draft, and the hope that you don't get mugged on the way over with it.

    Chimesey - Which one?, or

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  16. I think, but it doesn't seem to work, despite trying various differing address formats... sorry to be a pain...

  17. Chimesey - Actually, if I do get any worthwhile clips I'll have a go at posting them. Sadly the camera wasn't working the other day when we happened on a woman who'd got her beemer floating in a minor flood down the road.

  18. Appreciated. What I'm after, coincidentally, is a livefeed of 'A' roads, Motorways and the like. But live images are exclusive to those who pay for them -everything else I've found on the web is 'refreshed' images - even at 30 secs refresh rate is no good. I need constant. And I can't find any.

    Unless of course...

  19. Chimesey - I've looked, and you're right; it's refresh stuff only. Surprising. I could probably get some not terribly good one-off footage travelling on a motorway, but no chance of a live feed. (I'm intrigued!)

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