I was in the middle of my morning ritual the other day, sitting at the outdoor table in my backyard reading the newspaper and drinking coffee â€¦ then out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement on the front footpath.
A couple of middle-aged women â€“ typical inner north â€œmorning walkersâ€ (you know the type â€¦ slightly overweight â€¦ sensible sun hats â€¦ shorts … running shoes) â€“ were pacing up and down the footpath at the periphery of my corner block muttering to themselves.
Theyâ€™d seemingly spotted the dripline feeding a recently planted hedge of native plants.
I couldnâ€™t make out exactly what they were saying, but from their exaggerated pointing at the dripline along with the clear sounds of â€œtut-tuttingâ€ â€¦ combined with seemingly furious agreement about the evilness of what they were seeing â€¦ they were upset by my use of slowly dripping water (during the period officially alloted for this purpose) to keep a few native seedlings alive.
Somewhat hesitantly, they then crept onto my property to check the setting on the automatic tap timer in the middle of my front yard.
Emboldened by the lack of any obvious response to this trespassing, they continued creeping further on to peer over my side fence.
I expect their inspection didnâ€™t yield the incriminating evidence they were seeking. The grass is dry and brown, studded with dry dog turds.
Then they saw me sitting there somewhat bemusedly watching their activities â€“ both were horrified to have been observed â€¦ they looked at their feet, avoided eye contact, and scurried off.
So, I have now had the first taste of the officially sanctioned dob-in-your-neighbours regime where self-appointed harpies scour the suburbs for evidence that their neighbours are acting contrary to the New Water Order.
Although the watering was acting entirely within the restrictions, these two vigilantes felt they had the right to enter my property without permission to check my compliance.
As many of you may have found, Canberra is well supplied with people who are only too willing to approach other people in order to tell them how to live their lives. These two women had obviously decided to spend their mornings spying on their fellow citizens.
I expect that once they report back to the hive, Stanhope Special Agent 001Â½ Aidan Bruford will be assigned to paint a symbol â€“ perhaps a Star of David â€“ on my house to invite further scrutiny from the water posse.
I realise that the private property owner is fair game to be screwed, according to ACT Government policy, but itâ€™s rather confronting to be sitting there getting ready for a dayâ€™s work and having a squad of peering shrews scuttle onto your property to check your compliance with its regulations.
The next person who tries a stunt like that, however, wonâ€™t face such a mild reaction.