As a boy I found it difficult to obey the law, which I saw as a threat to my freedom. I would hang on the back of moving lorries, climb to the top of sky-high factory smokestacks, and sin of sins, even ride my bike in that sanctum of the pedestrian, the public park. All of this with a wary eye for the village bobby, in whose estimation I did not rank high.
One day I answered a knock at the door to see him looking down at me from under that awe-inspiring helmet. "He's come to get me at last," I thought, shaking in my shoes. But, rather than the call of retribution, it turned out to be a solicitous inquiry after my welfare because of a gas leak in the road.
What! An officer of the dreaded law expressing concern for my well-being? I had always thought of law as punitive and restrictive, never kind and considerate.