Works in the Herald 1933

Now that the warm days are approaching I think I shall be going to gaol soon. I fancy I should rather dislike gaol in the cold weather.

I really should not have to go to gaol at all; nor would I if the full circumstances of my case could be understood and appreciated in court. But justices and magistrates are busy men, eager to get their unpleasant business over and done with for the day; and I doubt that they could spare the time to listen to my quite adequate, though rather involved, defence.

So I shall not bother to advance any defence. Having pleaded guilty under provocation in a firm, manly voice, I shall thereafter observe a dignified silence; and then I shall go quietly to gaol. I shall certainly go to gaol because nothing on earth would persuade me to allow myself to be muleted in a fine. In the first place I should object on principle and secondly, I have a superstitious horror of being muleted. Fancy being muleted. The words suggests to my mind some fiendishly ingenious method of barbaric torture that has slipped unnoticed through meshes of parliamentary repeals and amendments, and come down to us from the dark ages. I shudder every time I hear of a man being muleted.

The Plan

But in extenuation of my supposed crime I offer this explanation here in the hope that it may catch the roving eye of some intelligent justice, who will afterwards sit upon my case, but will not sit upon me quite so hard, perhaps, as he would have had he not read these poignant lines.

Being as yet not very familiar with the criminal code, I am not quite clear about the particular charge that will be brought against me. But I fancy it will have something to do with "being unlawfully on private premises" or "loitering with criminal intent." Mayhem and Battery may enter into it; but that will depend entirely on circumstances.

What I propose to do is this. Somewhere in the suburbs I shall select an unpretentious, but well-cared-for, villa with an attractive garden and fairly extensive grounds. With any country friends that I can persuade to accompany me, I shall, in a nonchalant and quite casual manner, enter these private premises by the back gate. Having goggled for a space at the back of the house, we shall then proceed to tramp across the householder's cabbage plot, tread on his prize zinnias, throw pebbles at his gold fish to wake them up a bit and, if his tennis court happens to be occupied by players, we shall shove our noses through the netting, and make audible remarks on the play.

A Little Back Chat

When the indignant householder is at length aroused to protest we shall exhibit mild and well-bred surprise and, in tones of hurt innocence, we shall ask if he sells hot water, or if he keeps a boarding house, or perhaps we shall merely ask for his autograph.

If the now thoroughly scandalised householder persists in his indignation, we shall then indulge in a little back-chat and, finally, I as ringleader at least, will be handed over to the police. And then I shall go joyfully to gaol in what is to me a sacred cause - the cause of privacy and man's unalienable right to seclusion.

And if one should ask why I do this seemingly crazy thing, I reply that I do no more to this suburban householder than his type do to householders in the bush. My act will be an act of noble retaliation and reprisal on behalf of myself and my fellow sufferers in country places.

And I submit this problem to city dwellers generally: Why are the sacred rights of property and the need for privacy, so urgently insisted upon by certain suburban people, absolutely set aside and derided by these very people themselves when they turn into tourists and invade the bush?

Failing a satisfactory reply, I shall insist upon going to gaol.

I hope they give me a nice, roomy cell and a cheerful warder -- a country-bred warder for preference.

Herald, 13 November 1933, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002