This is why we can't have nice things
It’s easier to build little walls than big ones
My mother took her granddaughters to see the ballet over Christmas. As she was coming up from Kent, I brought the girls to the West End to meet her in the theatre auditorium before I went to work.
Outside the venue there was a queue and a short delay while some serious-faced security men searched our bags. It’s a very mild inconvenience, small enough to not be worth complaining about, but I’m a great believer in little things adding up. If the are enough of them, they can make a difference to your life for the worse.
More often than not — at least on the weird parts of the internet I inhabit — the phrase refers to the shared social costs of crime and disorder. Shopping centres have to hire security guards because there’s so much delinquency; swimming pools are forced to shut down or are even brought to the edge of closure because of anti-social behaviour; you can’t just pop in and use a coffee shop toilet because they’ve had to lock out the local junkies; the secondary school your children attend resembles a low-security prison, as does your local hospital. You can’t just walk into the British Museum, as you could five years ago, but have to pass through security checks. Sales of fireworks or knives are made harder.
Imagine instead living in a country where you could just… walk into places? Imagine being able to have nice things.