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Opener / Andrew Tuck

Playing it safe

There were some teething issues setting up our home-security system. It comes with cameras indoors and out, and mics so that you can hear what’s happening in your house. The trickiest issue was that it was supposed to recognise familiar faces that flashed past the cameras but, early on, the phone app was constantly alerting me to the fact that my partner was just getting home or daring to go to bed. Although this did have its joyous moments.When I was in Tokyo for work, just back from a morning gym moment (ie feeling virtuous), the app alerted me to a potential intruder. And sure enough, there was a live stream of my other half getting home from a black-tie dinner after, let’s say, a few glasses of something refreshing. I clicked on the mic symbol in time to hear him stare at the dog and declare, “I love you!” At this point I jolted him sober with a broadcast live from Tokyo to London: a loud greeting of “Are you tipsy?” It scared him but it entertained me.There’s also a small camera above our front door which, over the past few months, has been a Miss Marple in miniature. When a neighbour mentions that something odd has happened in the street, a quick scan of the day’s footage usually reveals the culprit.Missing branches from an ornamental tree? Oh, there’s another neighbour’s cleaner, armed with secateurs, collecting various shrubbery from the road for a flower arrangement. Missing rose bush? Watch as a man arrives with a shopping trolley to remove the potted beauty. Brick through an office window? Kids on bikes. The contents of a stolen bag tipped in the road? Another hoodie with a passion for cycling.The strange thing about even modest acts of vandalism are that they leave you wondering, “What sort of person would ever do this?” But when that riddle is solved, the annoyance mostly evaporates. It’s not a mysterious vendetta after all, just a bored kid. So while creeping CCTV in our public realm may concern some, it’s oddly comforting on a domestic scale. And even if it fails to be a wired-up detective, a home-security system is very good for making your partner feel just a little jumpy when they get home late.

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