“By eleven o’clock the next day
we were well upon our way to the old English capital.
Holmes had been buried in the morning papers all the way down,
but after we had passed the Hampshire border
he threw them down and began to admire the scenery.
It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little fleecy white clouds
drifting across from west to east.
The sun was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air,
which set an edge to a man’s energy.
All over the countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot,
the little red and grey roofs of the farm-steadings
peeped out from amid the light green of the new foliage.
“Are they not fresh and beautiful?” I cried with all the enthusiasm of a man
fresh from the fogs of Baker Street.
But Holmes shook his head gravely.
“Do you know, Watson,” said he, “… I look at them,
and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation
and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”
[ Doyle, The Copper Beeches ]
Moving to the Countryside ? Pause, and look at local newspapers First.
It is chilling to understand that almost everything that one was led to believe as a child
… now, no longer applies. The nationalist lies regarding history – how “Great” countries
became ‘great’, for instance, is one of those.
The second, is the notion that an organization of morally upright, responsible,
government officials known as “Police”, exist to keep peaceful people safe
from malignant predators and vicious thugs.
British Columbia, Western Canada, an area known as ‘The Fraser Valley’ …
In July of 2009, my wife and I moved in to our new house located in a village
known as ‘Yarrow’. We had not been three days in the house when,
on the first Friday night, I found myself getting out of bed at 11:00pm
due to the outrageous noise of (obviously) spinning tires; and seeing plumes of smoke wafting out of the darkness.
Rushing outside, I ended up positioning myself in front of two vehicles on the Road immediately in front of our house – as they were ‘setting up’ for a “drag race”.
One car reversed in a three-point turn and sped off; the second drove along the far shoulder and disappeared. One youth was left standing alone in the middle of the road.
As I turned my attention to him to ask what kind of brazen arrogance it takes to do that in front of someone’s home, the creature started to run towards the railway tracks, taking the route of the car that had just abandoned him.
I wrote a formal letter to City Hall asking if it would be possible for them to install
a speed bump on the road as – there being no police office in the town, the local delinquents obviously imagined that they had free run to use the long stretch of road for whatever
entertainment they wished.
I did not receive so much as the courtesy of a reply.
Our neighbour – (because I asked him, with a touch of exasperation at seeing the lights in their house on, while I stood utterly alone that night in the midst of that chaos of noise and smoke) … stated that he had “heard nothing”. “WE have double glazing”, he said.
So do we.
What we DID receive – a few weeks (?) later, as I was weeding (and, accordingly,
on hands and knees below the level of a row of hedging) the front of our property
to begin making a garden – was the slow crawl-past of a white “SUV” with police markings.
Relieved that, perhaps, something was being done about this free-for-all area in which we found ourselves, I began to stand to my feet imagining that the police car would pull in to the gate area.
Something though, made me stop, and just watch.
The SUV crawled right past our property, went to the railway tracks; turned,
and crawled past again.
A map of our rural area: Our house and land is situated in centre; the mailboxes appear as a small white roadside dot opposite a shed in the neighbouring Buddhist blueberry farm; the railway tracks visible in and out of the shadows of the trees at the bottom of the picture.
Because our house and property is below the level of the road,
when looking at passing car windows, all I see (from the inevitable slight curvature) is the reflection of the sky behind me – so I could not see who was driving the police car.
I simply watched as the car passed the end of our property and increased speed
while driving away.
Still engaged in the extensive project of building the front garden with shovel and wheelbarrow, I was again in the front garden a week later, when I noticed a ‘regular’ police car approaching down the road.
Again, anticipating that (surely?) they were coming to offer a word or two of reassurance, I watched as they came closer, and then began to stand in anticipation of meeting them.
At the rural mailboxes across from our neighbour’s blueberry field, the police car started the flashing lights … then the siren … and then (with a bit of a screech) they sped – fully accelerating – past the front of our house.
from our gate: the view to the post boxes (left in grass verge)
I craned my head around one of the cedar trees in the hedge and could not believe
what I was seeing: The siren went off … the lights were turned off … and car slowed down, went over the railway tracks, and cruised slowly up the hill.
from our gate: view to the railway tracks and curve uphill
I could not credit it … and refused to fully believe that this had been
some sort of infantile “display” of … control.
In a situation that [ honestly! ] I would never have the audacity to make up …
about a week (10 days?) later, a regular, marked police car approached our house.
Just at the mailboxes – once again, the flashing lights were suddenly turned on
… the siren began, and the car sped past our house. At the railway tracks,
the siren was turned off, lights were extinguished, and the car drove slowly up the hill.
Do NOT write a letter to City Hall and mention that there is
some part of town that the police do not have ‘under control’.
‘WE are here … WE are in control … do not make us ‘look bad’.’
I can think of NO other explanation for the bizarre, disturbing (this is the mentality of those who carry guns and can take people captive), theatrics that I had witnessed on those occasions.
It seems, we have found out from experience, that – in the 21st century – anyone who is vigilant, a victim, or expects to be able to live in peace, is now regarded as ‘looking for trouble’, a hypochondriac, or someone who should be content to cower in terror.
A man is brutally beaten to death while jogging in a park: “Oh well”, seems the all-too ready response: “He should not have been there after dark.”
Every excuse under the sun defends the vicious; whilst the peaceful are admonished for the ‘stupidity’ of believing that they might reasonably live in peace.
On the “walking trail” on Vedder Mountain (which runs the length of the rear of our property), we would see, from about 10:00 o’clock at night (from the windows of our home), headlights of cars driving from the far end, along the … Walking Trail …
until it met a second set of headlights, just off-centre behind our house.
As it seemed fair to presume, we speculated that this was the new drug-deal area
for sales to locals. Pulling on a jacket, and taking a torch,
I walked up to the end of the trail and waited.
Sure enough, a car came reversing out of the walking trail right to where I was standing. I can only presume that the occupants saw me, since – after one more repeat performance (by the headlights, and by me) the ‘meeting headlights’ stopped altogether.
Presumably, they would find somewhere else to conduct their disreputable ‘business’.
The appalling display I had witnessed during our first few months
in this part of the world made it self-evident (to us)
that there was NO Point whatsoever in calling the police.
Since then, we have – on a continual basis – been the object of slow drive-by’s
from “boom cars” who increase their volume until they pass our property
(and then lower it);
Squealing tires and ‘burning rubber’ on the road immediately in front of our house;
and our front gate area is not infrequently the receptacle
for fried lard wrappers from ‘McDonalds’,
debris from a Canadian trash ‘food’ pit known as Tim Hortons;
beer tins, beer bottles, and even urine from those who have evidently
stopped during the night.
Subsequently searching for any information on this rural Tombstone into which
we had so ignorantly moved, I was deeply disheartened to have noticed an article
on the ‘online’ edition of the “Chilliwack Progress” newspaper of 7 March, 2013.
The headline read:
“Residents want improved security on Vedder Mountain”
( the mountain behind us that I mentioned above ). Beneath a photograph of a woman, there appeared the text “Vedder Mountain landowner K—- H—- feels bullied by people who trespass on her property … She holds the many complaint letters she has submitted to authorities over the years.”
Over the YEARS ???
So … it is NOT just us.
Nothing was done to help us; nothing was done for (at least) one other local family.
[ I did check – and yes, we were indeed paying taxes for … “police services”. ]
Other than radar traps on the surrounding country roads (tremendous presence there!), or conducting “seat belt checks”, I cannot think what those “services” would be.
It is certainly not for prevention of harassment from local thugs, punks,
and delinquents in automobiles.
Even with this as ‘standard’ fare, it was this year, in 2016,
that incidents severely escalated as we were regular recipients
of large pickup trucks squealing tires so furiously that the wall of smoke pouring over and into our house was actually opaque.
One Friday evening, our neighbour was driving up the road in his City truck,
IMMEDIATELY behind two large pickups … and was behind them when they began to ‘burn’ their tires in front of our house.
On this occasion, I ran out with my wife’s little ‘work camera’
and caught a blurry image of the second ‘screeching’ truck.
Our neighbour – now turning in to his driveway – shouted across:
“Do you want me to phone the police?”
“Yes!” I yelled ( knowing that I NOW had a witness who could not claim to have “heard nothing” as he had done at every other occasion for the past 5 years ).
The police had been clearly ignoring me in the past; but now, another person – (and he, a City employee/supervisor) – would be able to give testimony to the situation here in The Wild West.
The trucks having now vanished, and a third having done a “180” and turned away back down the road, I walked over to our neighbour. “Are they on the way?” I asked.
“Oh” he replied, “I didn’t call them. You can email them.”
I did not even speak – – – just turned, and walked away.
The following morning, my wife and I drove to the RCMP office
and went inside with the blurred photograph from the night before;
three photographs showing the multiple ‘burn’ marks on the road
(with our house clearly pictured adjacent); and a typed summary
of what is noted above.
A brusque woman behind the glass could not conceal her lack of interest as she demanded in a demeaning look and tone: “What makes you think You are being targeted?”
I mentioned the drag racing, the headlights, and the fact that this has been going on for 5 years ( ‘during which time I dared not bother you’, I kept to myself ).
“Corporal D—— gets on at six tonight.” She photocopied my driving licence,
refused to take the printed photographs offered, and made it clear
that the conversation was over.
We would not receive so much as the courtesy ( never mind professionalism )
of a telephone call or personal visit of interest from the police.
Perhaps, assertions heard over the years are true; and ‘Standard Police Procedure’
truly does mean ‘the path of least effort’.
What we DID receive … was a letter: typed and signed in ink
– to say that my wife had been caught ( by the citizens-playing-police squad )
driving at 21km over the city speed limit, on a country road.
One obnoxious portion advised us to kindly familiarize ourselves
with the Motor Vehicle Code if we intended to drive in the streets
of this area.
That was important enough to receive police action, but – intentional harassment
and specific mischief targeted to our home … well they are, clearly, Too Busy for That.
The realisation gives one pause for thought.
It is a very uncomfortable feeling to realise that one lives in the countryside,
where the best that can be expected – if lying, dying in a ditch,
is to spend the last ten minutes of life listening to the distant sounds of police sirens – and not even be sure if they are even coming to help you.
To say that I wish we had never come here, would not be strictly true, as we left the Scottish Borders to come here for me to be with my Dad following his heart attack and several strokes: thinking that he was inevitably approaching the close of his life …
but, honestly, while I AM truly glad to be here for my Dad …
I wish that we had never come here.
That newspaper article was dated “2013” – four years too late
to have warned us. Had we had it to read in 2009,
we would never have bought the house here.
When I was a little boy, my gentle – and gentlemanly – grandpa
told me to “Never trust a copper, son.”
I have more than had the truth behind that advice asserted
throughout my life; but never more so than now.
If this account of our on-going, 6-year struggle with rural thugs
will serve as an awakening – if not warning – to someone
who may be considering relocating to a rural locale,
then some good can come out of this.
Scan back-issues of the local newspaper, and discern accordingly.
Like us, you may just find yourself, quite literally,
on your own.