(I can't help but feel it's worth pointing out that Jackie next door lived in east London for 10 years, and us in Brockley, Nunhead and Tooting for even longer, all without ever being burgled. Shropshire, honestly, it's like Baltimore...)
Anyway, we are on amber alert, neighbourhood watch, circle the wagons etc. So when I happened to look out of my front window this afternoon and saw two men loading up next door's firewood into a van, I was on their case right away, I can tell you, I should coco.
Except they didn't look like criminals – you know, eyebrows meeting in the middle, scars, romper suits with arrows on, that sort of thing – they certainly weren't in any hurry, nor looking around furtively, nor worried about me looking through the windows at them. Plus, did I mention there was two of them. Big blokes. Animals. Plural. Not people to be messed with, I decided. Let prudence be my watchword – indeed it's called Neighbourhood Watch for a reason, I said to myself.
Perhaps send Bobby round. Or more likely Teasel, he'd take them both down in an instant and, having failed to drag them through the cat-flap, would eat them on the patio, leaving behind just a couple of kidneys as evidence.
Instead I chose the path less travelled. I made it clear I'd seen them, took a photo and a note of their number plate and sent them on their way, no messing about. For I am king of my patch. An island entire unto myself. I doth bestride my driveway as a colossus. Woof.
And so it was that I settled down with a cup of tea and an application for acceptance into club little England and generally celebrated a good job, done well. As was proved later when my neighbour confirmed they were legit, but frankly I would have preferred some gratitude instead of him laughing at my lack of cojones. It's true he made a salient point - that one of the big blokes was the 14 year old son of the other, who himself only measured about 5 feet 7 - but I felt exonerated when I learnt of his mate's nickname: Pitbull he called him, Pitbull.
Good Citizens of Middle England, be careful out there. Or move to Peckham...