MAN'S WORLD

"WHAT IF burglars get in?" This is the question my four-year-old asked me two nights ago, apropos of nothing, as is his habit on the way upstairs to bed. I made a conscious effort to behave as if it was the first time such a thing had occurred to me. "Mmmmmm..." I said, instead of, "Why, just last night I was lying awake for six hours pondering the very same question."

That night I slept very well, only to have wife wake me at 5am to say that she'd heard a noise. I got as far as the landing, where I contemplated the cold, black silence of the ground floor for a while, before going back to question my wife further as to the quality and timbre of the noise. Pleased that somebody else was being paranoid for once, I returned to a dreamless sleep.

In the morning we discovered the front door hanging off its twisted, dead bolt. On the other side the wood was splintered, revealing a rainbow of paint layers. There was also a size 6 shoe print - a Reebok Classic, according to the police - alongside the keyhole. The young perpetrator didn't actually gain entry, although he did manage to destroy our most expensive possession in his attempt, ie our front door. When I heard a new door would cost somewhere between pounds 1,200 and pounds 2,000, I wondered what we had to steal that could possibly be worth that much. I'm surprised insurance companies don't instruct home-owners to leave their valuable front doors unlocked, even slightly ajar, so that troubled teenage thieves won't damage them in their single-minded pursuit of a telly the rag-and- bone man wouldn't take away. I would like to ask any future burglars visiting my home to ring the bell - it doesn't matter how late - and I will be happy to bring the laptop down and explain some of its little quirks.

In a matter of hours the true events of that night had mutated, in my wife's mind, into an example of my extreme cowardice. When I came downstairs after my bath, she introduced me to the policeman by saying, "Here's the have-a-go hero himself." Having made my excuses, I left. I didn't like to say that I was late for my Alexander Technique class, which I recently started as part of a personal millennium project I'm calling Posture 2000. As I practised sitting down, the instructor said my movements had a "lovely inhibition". I said, "You should have seen me last night, mate."

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