You didn't, did you? I mean, I don't want to upset anyone at this time of the year, but please tell me that you didn't give anyone you love, or anyone else for that matter, as a present this Christmas, for whatever reason, a drone.
You didn't? I suspected as much. Such kind and thoughtful people as yourselves, the literate backbone of society, upholders of what is right and true and kind regardless of how hard the wind of stupidity blows - and boy, is it blowing hard right now - would never be so unwise. But plenty of people are so unwise, and war, I'm afraid, is brewing.
• Drones the new tool in burglars' arsenal
• Drone used by Northland police for the first time
• Uproar in Levin over drones invading property and privacy
• Neighbours at war: Drone used to inform council of non-compliant structures
Last Sunday I was out strolling my demesnes with the dog. Said demesnes do not take long to stroll, but that is not the point. The point is that my demesnes are mine. We are possessive creatures and we like to belong somewhere that belongs to us. Accordingly I will defend my demesnes against burglars, the city council and door-to-door salespeople of everything from window-cleaning to god.
For this is my home and home is an ancient word and an even more ancient concept. It occupies a place in our psyche as primitive, fundamental and inviolable as mother, child or test match cricket. We are home bodies. All wars begin as a defence of home against others who would take it from us, who would subsume our home into theirs. For to take our home is to take us. Home matters.
It matters equally to my dog. At the first suspicion of a visit from man or poodle my dog is up from the chair of indolence, out through the dog door of transition and onto the front deck of alertness, standing tall, ears pricked, shoulders erect, the hackles on his spine puffing and pluming. And all for home.
So, as I say, there we were, dog and I, strolling our unextensive demesnes, being proprietorial on a sunny Sunday, when, well, you've already guessed. The drone began as a hum that made us both look up, materialised round the flank of a pine, then stopped and hovered about 6 metres off the ground. And if you don't find that menacing then we are very different creatures.
It was perhaps 45cm across and it was black and it was clearly under the control of someone I couldn't see and my immediate instinct was visceral. This was trespass. Had I had a gun I'd have shot it down. Without hesitation.
I'd like to know the law on this. I have always presumed that when I bought this place I also bought the land. And by the land I mean that portion of the planet that stretches in a narrowing cone from the soles of my strolling Crocs to the pinpoint heart of the molten centre of the globe (where every freeholder on earth has legal ownership of an infinitely small portion of an infinitely small point).
And I also presumed that it worked in the other direction as well, that I owned an ever-expanding cone of air above the land, a cone that stretched up through our atmosphere and into space and out into the frozen silence of the interstellar regions, widening all the time so that by the time it reached the edge of everything (and I acknowledge that my physics is a little sketchy here) the cone of space of which I was the legal overlord would be billions of light years wide and include whole galaxies that legally belonged to me.
(Though I realise that if there are any other life forms with property rights out there, they too will have infinite cones of legal ownership that would intersect with ours so there's a mighty law suit looming to the court of Intergalactic Jurisdiction.)
But, and here's the point, I don't want a drone in my cone. And I realise now that I actually don't care about the law. If the drone comes again I shall shoot it. If that makes me an outlaw, then so be it, I shall be an outlaw. I shall be Robin Hood, scourge of drones. Let the Sheriff of Nottingham do what he will.
I'd love you to join me. It's never too late to stand for something in this world. Send me a drone's corpse with your bullet through it and you can be Little John or Maid Marian. What fun we'll have in Lincoln green. We'll have a cause. And the cause is good. Aux armes, citoyens.