American Times: Washington DC: Welcome wagon of rules that awaits the Clintons

NOW THE First Family's housing problem has been solved, it may be appropriate to explore some of the delights that await Bill, Hillary, Chelsea, Socks, Buddy - and anyone else for that matter - in the upper reaches of home-ownership, American style. For the Clintons, who have not owned a home since 1982, the demands of their new neighbourhood may be a shock.

Anyone who thinks of the United States as a free- booting, free-wheeling, live-and-let live sort of place should try a few months in our Washington apartment block. Our accommodations are in a league quite different from those of the Clintons. A two-bedroom flat in central Washington is hardly your five- bedroom 1.1-acre estate in Westchester County. But the watchwords for both are the same: rules, rules, rules.

The rulebook for residents of our 10-storey block is a thick volume of clauses and sub-clauses waiting to be transgressed. Our first unwitting misdemeanour concerned a doormat. Shaped like a cat, we placed it where we thought a mat belonged, in front of our door to look welcoming to guests and to distinguish our doorway from the others on the same floor. Which was precisely the problem. Within a couple of weeks we had a letter from the "Board" that could best be described as kindly but stern - it referred to our mat as "cute" - which translated as an order to remove it. Distinguishing one's front door is precisely what our block is not about; all doors must look alike.

Our second infraction concerned rubbish. Regulations for dealing with "garbage" run into many, many clauses. But when you live seven floors up, in a semi-tropical summer climate you are particular about dispatching the rubbish down the chute in the corridor. A call from the front desk drew our attention to a "report" that there were bags of rubbish outside our door. Well, there were, for a few minutes while our once-a-week cleaner assembled them for the trip to the chute.

For the third violation I expect a written reprimand from the Board: I swam in the pool when there was no lifeguard present. In my defence, this was not deliberate. It was during normal hours (10am to 8pm); the door was unlocked, and two people resembling lifeguards were by the pool.

In fact, they were fellow residents trying to drum up support for longer pool hours, but pointed out I had been swimming illegally. With pleasure, they spread before me a letter they had from the board citing "reports" that they had swum out of hours "on more than one occasion". The presence of a lifeguard is a condition of the block's insurance policy in this litigious country. But sports facilities breed regulations: shower before and after; no broken skin. And, please, no walking around the common areas in "sportswear". A friend had her "pool privileges" withdrawn for a week for that.

And no beanstalks. A recent circular instructed everyone with plants or trees higher than the top of their balcony railing to cut them back at once. Only window-box flowers may protrude above railings.

Which is where we return to Bill and Hillary. At a preliminary guess, neither the Clintons nor their guests will be allowed to park their cars in the road, even for a few minutes. While a giant 4x4 on the drive is fine, a caravan or delivery van is not. They must keep their lawn trimmed to the grass equivalent of a crew-cut and weed-free. They must sweep up the leaves in autumn, and the snow in winter.

Whatever their debts, they may not start any business. Prayer meetings more than once a month are also out. Mrs Clinton will have to keep her cookie-baking within bounds, and Mr Clinton's "spiritual advisers" may find it easier to counsel him on the golf course, if, that is, he meets membership requirements.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week