There's an old fella living upstairs. Every so often he cranks up his muzak to maximum volume, and under cover of "Que Sera, Sera" emits a maniacal cackle and a volley of passionate expletives. I haven't been game to make a diagnosis, and I haven't been game to pop up and offer my counselling services, but I've accepted that he's none too well, and if 50s pop music, very loud, every couple of weeks, is what it takes to make his life bearable, well, so be it.
Couple of nights ago, round about 8 p.m., he was working his way through the Flower Duet from Lakmé, shouting angrily at his invisible friend, when two members of the Victorian constabulary arrived and demanded that he open his door. Then I heard "If I have to come back here again, I'm going to put my foot in your face and my knee in your groin and I'm going to smash every piece of sound producing equipment you've got." Bloody effective. My neighbour was suddenly so subdued I couldn't hear his reply. But - I'm no mental illness management expert here, though it seems sort of obvious - bloody irresponsible. Nothing like a bit of good old fashioned bullying and intimidation to cure a chap of his psychoses, or his alcoholism, or his Tourette's syndrome, or whatever it is my neighbour's got going on.
Sure, the good people of Thornbury shouldn't have to listen to scratchy French opera on a Thursday night. Whoever phoned the police was well within their rights. But the threat of physical violence was totally disproportionate - maybe even illegally disproportionate (I don't know) - to my neighbour's offence. Legalities aside, what I heard sounded terrifying; I'm pretty certain my neighbour was terrified, and a bit of real-life terror's the last thing this guy needs.
This is sinister enough in its own right, but it happens just as, on a different scale, federal security powers are doing their bit for the police state. If upstairs is what happens when there are laws to protect people's civil liberties, I'm pessimistic as can be about what's up in the Brisbane Watchhouse.