On the outside of a shop on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Macclefield Street, very close to our bedroom window, sat a burglar alarm constantly being set off by spiders and such. Once activated it would not desist from ringing. The police could never either trace a keyholder or get one to come out and turn off the noise. One of their problems was that the establishment often changed hands. On one occasion when it was doing my head in, and the police were unable to help, I decided to take it off the wall. Armed with a screwdriver and a hammer, I climbed a ladder, hoping no-one was looking up my dressing gown, and set about it. This was a very complicated procedure in which I had to completely dismantle the offending article and prise apart some wires before the shrill noise would stop. Fortunately I had no need of the hammer. When I returned to bed, hoping to sleep, Jessica suggested that I should tell the police what I had done. I did. Five minutes later I was arrested. On being escorted into the police station I was greeted with calls of ‘ ‘ere, that bloke rings a bell’, and ‘don’t get alarmed mate.’ I think it was the highlight of their evening. The sergeant informed me that they were not prepared to charge me with criminal damage, but they had to give the owner the opportunity to do so. And I hadn’t actually damaged anything. I’d carefully collected up all the bits. I’d have had more sleep if I’d stayed indoors. Unsurprisingly, the owner was not interested in pursuing the matter.
Some while later, intent on repeating my misdemeanour, I was halfway up the ladder when a policeman politely asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he said I wasn’t. ‘Oh, OK’, I replied, and went back to bed. Eventually I tried a more subtle solution. By this time the outlet was selling clothes. After a particularly bad three nights in succession, I persuaded a shop assistant to give me the phone number of the current owner. The next occasion on which our sleep was disturbed, I telephoned him. ‘Whoooaahr’, said I, with a sharp outlet of breath, ‘I think you’d better come out here’. Now he was alarmed. I went on to tell him that his shop had been burgled. In their haste to get away the perpetrators had strewn jeans all over Shaftesbury Avenue. Naturally, in telling this little white lie, I remained anonymous. We were never troubled again. Our neighbours were quite grateful.