I was walking along Abington Street in Northampton this morning--it's the pedestrianised main shopping street in the centre of town, for those of you who haven't had the good fortune to visit--and suddenly I heard a disembodied voice, appearing to come from all around me at the same time, announce: "It is an offence to drop litter in the street. Those who drop litter will be prosecuted.There are twelve public bins provided along Abington Street. Please use them to enhance everybody's experience of shopping in the town centre."
It was something like that anyway. The message had no doubt been transmitted through invisible loud speakers from Puritanical Busybody Central where impotent middle-aged men sat eagerly in front of closed circuit tv cameras eating pre-packaged lettuce and tomato sandwiches and watching for transgressors.
Just think: a couple of hundred years ago they used to race bulls along Abington Street. Now you can't even flip a cigarette butt while thinking of your girlfriend's ass as she pulled her jeans on in the morning light.
(By the way, the loud speaker warning wasn't directed at me. I'd like you to think it was, but no. I'm not one for overt displays of rebellion against the established order.)