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Are our rights disappearing?

PUBLISHED: 06:54 10 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 06 July 2010

PRIVACY and our right to it is being whittled away.

The people of Broughton in Buckinghamshire made a decent stab to protect theirs by forming a human hoarding around a Google Street camera snooping on their comings and goings.

PRIVACY and our right to it is being whittled away.

The people of Broughton in Buckinghamshire made a decent stab to protect theirs by forming a human hoarding around a Google Street camera snooping on their comings and goings.

But they were on a hiding to nothing. Privacy is a privilege now, no longer a right.

It's bad enough having the beady eye of CCTV trailing us through town centres, car parks, shops, pubs, but Google Street spying on neighbourhoods is just peeping tomdom, legitimising the creepy and insidious.

Are our own lives so dull we want to watch people we don't know mow their lawn, have a crafty ciggie without the wife finding out or a man in a cap picking his nose walking home from work?

Read a book, take a nap, volunteer to help others, mow your own lawn, get a life. Spying on strangers is just weird.

Technology is making us into sad old nosy parkers.

And if you don't care to share the inanities and mundanities of your little lives with others via webcams, internet networking sites, Twitter et al, and choose to opt out of techno-snooping, you're viewed as some kind of sociopath.

Not on Facebook? Why not? Not Twittering? Are you mad?

Why wouldn't you want to know what someone you met on holiday in 1986 is thinking when they woke up this morning via Facebook? Why would anyone?

Today, you're viewed as a strange lonely recluse if you're happy to keep your thoughts, life and family to yourself, thank you very much, without sharing the minutiae - the tediously mind-numbingly dull minutiae - with anyone interested to peek.

And if, like me, you cling on to that old-fashioned concept that a mobile phone is for emergencies - and rarely switch it on - and screen your phone calls, people view you as an odd anti-social misfit.

Life today is too social, in-your-face, sharing and communal. I hate communal.

The concept of being alone and keeping our own counsel is so last century. A luxury. Today everything has to be shared - everything with everyone all the time.

This constant being in touch is exhausting. I want to shut down, turn everything off, lock the door and will everyone to go away and leave me alone. Perhaps that's because I'm over 40 and all this constant buzzing, poking, texting and ringing is a young person's thing.

How does anyone ever manage to get anything constructive done with all this Facebook, My Space, Bebo, MSN, Skype, mobile phones and Google Street stuff to keep up with?

But it's the mobile phone culture and its invasion and disruption of civilisation that's the real villain of the piece.

That slab of metal is constantly there; the centrepiece on restaurant tables, at meetings, on your own kitchen table - how rude - waiting to ring.

They should be banned in public places. They're far more offensive and intrusive - to me anyway - than smoking ever was.

I loathe the idea that people can contact me when I want to escape into a world of my own. If I want to walk into the depths of the countryside with my dog I don't want the phone to ring with the most irritating words known to woman.

“Where are you?” It's no one's business where I am and what I'm doing.

So I switch my phone off. When I switch it back on there's a flood of texts and voicemails. “Where have you been? “ and “Why are you ignoring me.”

Not wanting to go all Greta Garbo or seem ungrateful that people care but sometimes, actually quite often, I, like many other busy people, want to be alone for a bit of peace and solitude without having to explain myself.

Emails too. If you don't answer them immediately, you're rude. If you have a Blackberry, you're doomed to a life constantly at others beck and call.

Technoholics and their obsession are making life intolerable for many and so much communication pointless and worthless.

How about a national switch off day to remind us all what peace actually sounds like and to rediscover how to speak to each other properly, face-to-face, about what's really important.

THE last time anyone said no to Madonna and denied her a demand was probably 1980.

Little wonder she was shocked and stunned at a judge who dared to turn her down when she tried to adopt of four-year-old Mercy James.

But her words to her lawyer spoke volumes. “Get me my Mercy,” she said. “She's my little girl - she needs to be with me.”

Me, me, my, my. And we're supposed to believe it's all about Mercy.

IN my experience, boys always get a raw deal in the school playground.

Forced to sit still and “be good” like girls in the classroom when they're genetically programmed to charge about, they're then instructed to be restrained and calm in the playground when they need to let off steam.

Banned from this game and that, football, anything with a ball, running, jumping in case others - usually girls - get in the way, they're left to build up unexpended energy like shaken up bottles of pop.

At last sense has been spoken that “boys will be boys” and accidents happen.

A lunchtime supervisor at a school in Dorset has tried to sue a 13-year-old for knocking into her during a game of tag She was seriously injured and tried to claim compensation.

But, finally, someone took the boys' side.

“Thirteen-year-old boys will be 13-year-old boys who will play tag. If they are not breaking any rules they should not be held liable in negligence.”

Eureka. Boys are boisterous, not out of malice but because of nature. So much time is invested in schools trying to meddle with boys' natural instincts.

And isn't it heartening that boys are still playing an innocent game of tag at 13, not playing hooky, smoking behind the bike sheds, having sex or taking drugs as popular culture would have us believe all teenagers are doing.

IN the week that Keira Knightley suffers a shocking assault in TV and cinema adverts for Women's Aid to highlight domestic violence, a firefighter who beat up his pregnant girlfriend and subjected her to a campaign of harassment was spared prison because of his “valuable and important job.”

Jaime Nobbs threw his girlfriend, pregnant with his twins, to the ground, kicked her, pulled her hair and tried to throttle her leaving her with large bruises.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said: “You have performed a valuable and important part in the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. It is largely for that reason I am not sending you to prison.”

Well that's all right then.

Members of the emergency services can go around committing crimes and expect to go free by dint of their job then is the logical conclusion we should all reach.

It's the most ludicrous judgement

Who else is above the law because of their public service? MPs? No wonder they think they can get away with anything.

Letting this man walk free makes a mockery of the law and campaigns so hard fought to cut domestic violence and encourage women to seek help and escape their living hell.

APPARENTLY, the housing market is showing “green shoots” but if you're thinking of putting your house up for sale, beware.

From next week no one can put a house on the market without a completed Home Information Pack. If they do, they face a £200 fine.

And something else less publicised - if you take your house off the market and then decide to put it back on you'll need to invest in yet another costly HIP because they expire after 28 days.

Rip off and money for old rope are the phrases that come to mind.

TV presenter Clare Balding wasn't exactly leading the queue when good looks were doled out but I can imagine the furore if an interviewee had suggested she “get a little work done.”

But she was totally at ease suggesting Grand National winner Liam Treadwell invested his winnings in getting his wonky teeth fixed. What was she thinking?

This type of drivel and personal comment is spouted more and more by female presenters, seemingly increasingly vacuous and out of their depth, to fill the gaps because they can't think of anything else to say.

They're the first to shout “foul play” alleging ageism, sexism and every other 'ism' and discrimination but the truth is too many of them just aren't very good.

As television in every form is dumbed down further, perhaps we're getting the presenters we deserve.

EXPECT MP to be added to the list of what children would like to be when they grow up.

Racing drivers, celebrities, footballers, MPs - the perks are endless. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will even warm herself on her patio this summer with an outdoor heater bought courtesy of you and I.

Nice work if you can get it.

As students in the 1980s, we marched and protested, fighting for a revival of this Government, a Government to represent the working people striving to make a pittance believing Labour would make all the difference.

Now working people and the poorest are bearing the full brunt of our national economic catastrophe and the very people they believed were on their side, put their trust in to look after them, have their noses in the trough feathering their own nest - we even bought Miss Smith's 88p bathplug - at our expense.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon pocketed £90,000 in housing expenses while enjoying a grace and favour home. It was well within the rules, he said, smugly.

And that's what they believe. If it's in the rules it must be morally right. And that just about says it all.

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