As it was in board­ing school

The Witness - Wheels - - OPINION -

HOW­ICK’S re­tire­ment vil­lages have many good points. They are safe, con­ge­nial and pretty. It is ac­tu­ally cheaper to live there rather than out­side. They are quiet — too quiet, me­thinks: the ab­sence of chil­dren’s voices is very no­tice­able.

There are other dis­ad­van­tages — while peo­ple out­side get along very well with­out a for­est of “con­duct rules”, the vil­lages clearly feel when you get old you need to be se­ri­ously kept in check, as it was in board­ing school, re­mem­ber?

So a fat rule book can be thrown at you if you step over some line. And it does get thrown, be­cause an­other prob­lem is that a few peo­ple make it their busi­ness to see that ev­ery­one else obeys the rules re­li­giously. Run­ning to the pre­fects to split on some granny’s er­rant cat, say, is a prime source of sat­is­fac­tion for th­ese peo­ple.

The of­fi­cial at­ti­tude is that pets are un­de­sir­able. They are al­lowed un­der suf­fer­ance, and if an an­i­mal hater ob­jects, he or she has all the rights and you and your dog or cat have none. I my­self have been ac­cused, charged, tried, found guilty, sen­tenced and vir­tu­ally hanged — all with­out any hear­ing or even prior no­tice of pro­ceed­ings — be­cause my dog al­legedly barked. The prob­lem isn’t pets but peo­ple.

Every­body in th­ese vil­lages needs to re­mem­ber that rules are for the guid­ance of rea­son­able folk and the obei­sance of fools. The lat­ter are, like the rules, plen­ti­ful. RU­PERT JONES


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