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Old 10-16-2018, 02:23 PM
Rocketeer Rocketeer is offline
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English etiquette re: entering houses

Mrs R and I have been watching a lot of Midsomer Murders lately, and we've noticed that usually DCI Barnaby and his sergeant walk right into houses, calling out something like, "Mrs. Somerville, are you there?". The houses never seem to be locked, and Barnaby almost never knocks, just turns the knob and walks in.

In the US, I daresay almost all houses are locked, and a visitor knocks and waits outside to be admitted.


Is this (walking right in) the usual practice for cops in the UK? Usual for casual visitors?
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:06 PM
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Midsomer Murders takes place in an imaginary England which never existed, where the post is delivered promptly twice a day, summer skies are blue, there is cricket on the village green with tea and scones for spectators, churches are packed with happy people (contented people, who know their place), there is no crime (well....), and, most importantly of all, THERE ARE NO DAMN FOREIGNERS.

Been running for twenty years. Hence Brexit.

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Old 10-16-2018, 03:09 PM
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Hell no. You knock or ring the doorbell first, then if you get no answer and the door is unlocked, open it and call out. Or go round to the garden. Note that in a country village, the householder may well have a shotgun and an intruder may get an unwelcome response! This works both ways though: it's not unknown for someone to get no response, go in, and rescue the householder who has had a fall or has collapsed or something.
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:26 PM
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You see the same thing on American TV actually - most New Yorkers don't actually leave their apartment door unlocked so that Kramer can barge in and be wacky, to use Seinfeld as an example. Scenes that consist of 'knock... wait... knock again... wait... Mr.s Somerville turns up, unlocks door lets people in' are generally waster air time, they're not making jokes or driving the plot. It's the same way that TV people typically sleep with enough light on to film by, it's not real but it makes for better viewing than a dark room.
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Treppenwitz View Post
Midsomer Murders takes place in an imaginary England which never existed, where the post is delivered promptly twice a day, summer skies are blue, there is cricket on the village green with tea and scones for spectators, churches are packed with happy people (contented people, who know their place), there is no crime (well....), and, most importantly of all, THERE ARE NO DAMN FOREIGNERS.
Midsomer, an allegedly sleepy country town has a murder rate of 3.2 per 100,000 population.
This is comparable to New York's.

And yes, here in England people keep their doors locked and the police knock.
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Old 10-16-2018, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocketeer View Post
Mrs R and I have been watching a lot of Midsomer Murders lately, and we've noticed that usually DCI Barnaby and his sergeant walk right into houses, calling out something like, "Mrs. Somerville, are you there?". The houses never seem to be locked, and Barnaby almost never knocks, just turns the knob and walks in.

In the US, I daresay almost all houses are locked, and a visitor knocks and waits outside to be admitted.


Is this (walking right in) the usual practice for cops in the UK? Usual for casual visitors?
Well, except for the murderers, of course.

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Originally Posted by glee View Post
Midsomer, an allegedly sleepy country town has a murder rate of 3.2 per 100,000 population.
This is comparable to New York's.

And yes, here in England people keep their doors locked and the police knock.
Midsomer is actually a county. All of the towns have the word "Midsomer" as part of their names.
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Old 10-16-2018, 05:55 PM
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I live in the woods. My doors are always locked. I always have a loaded gun handy. I would just die if anyone knocked on my door. I have never had a visitor that was unannounced well ahead. No one comes here, to far out.
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:51 PM
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Note that in a country village, the householder may well have a shotgun and an intruder may get an unwelcome response!
In Britain the right to repel unwelcome intruders from an ancient property where the doors may not lock properly is called the "home doctrine", based on the saying "A man's castle may be his home".

Last edited by Riemann; 10-16-2018 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:58 PM
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I live in the woods. My doors are always locked. I always have a loaded gun handy. I would just die if anyone knocked on my door. I have never had a visitor that was unannounced well ahead. No one comes here, to far out.
I didn't realize you lived in the UK.
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Old 10-16-2018, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocketeer View Post
Mrs R and I have been watching a lot of Midsomer Murders lately, and we've noticed that usually DCI Barnaby and his sergeant walk right into houses, calling out something like, "Mrs. Somerville, are you there?". The houses never seem to be locked, and Barnaby almost never knocks, just turns the knob and walks in.
You're not watching carefully enough. Barnaby always knocks, whereupon the door swings open, being not only unlocked but not even properly shut. Barnaby exchanges a wordless concerned look with his sidekick to indicate to the viewer that this is suspicious, worrying even. Then they both enter, calling out for the householder, who turns out to be either (a) dead or (b) out the back. No explanation is ever given as to why the front door was unfastened.

Despite the fact that this happens virtually every time that Barnaby knocks on a door, he always seems to consider it out-of-the-ordinary, and therefore worrying.

I say "Barnaby always knocks", but in fact sometimes he rings the doorbell. When this happens the door is always shut in the usual way. Either (a) it will be opened by the householder in response to the ring, or (b) it will not. In the latter case Barnaby and his sidekick do not assume "oh, they must be out"; they exchange another worried look, go round the back of the house, peer through the windows and observe the householder lying prone on the floor, whereupon they force an entry. The householder always lies in a place that is visible through a ground-floor window, but only a back window. Knowing this, they do not bother to look through the windows at the front of the house.
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Old 10-16-2018, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Treppenwitz View Post
Midsomer Murders takes place in an imaginary England which never existed, where the post is delivered promptly twice a day, summer skies are blue, there is cricket on the village green with tea and scones for spectators, churches are packed with happy people (contented people, who know their place), there is no crime (well....)
...
I suspected as much. The primary occupation of Midsomerians seems to be putting on fetes. Which always serve as a catalyst for some kind of horrible crime.
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Old 10-16-2018, 09:58 PM
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Old 10-16-2018, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Midsomer is actually a county. All of the towns have the word "Midsomer" as part of their names.
Not all, though many of them. They got away from that convention as the show went on (though the very first one was set in Badger's Drift).
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Old 10-16-2018, 11:29 PM
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They should set the show in country Victoria. I'm not sure if my inlaws have ever locked a door in their life, unless they were going away for multiple days.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:26 AM
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We leave the doors unlocked, but set up visible laser beam motion detectors, which we assume criminals would be unable to maneuver through.

(or, non-snark: naw, pretty much the same as the rest of the developed world. Maybe some small towns are/were safe enough to leave your door unlocked, but I doubt it's the norm anywhere (such that a person would rock up not even expecting to have to knock))
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Old 10-17-2018, 05:58 AM
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In Britain the right to repel unwelcome intruders from an ancient property where the doors may not lock properly is called the "home doctrine", based on the saying "A man's castle may be his home".
Wait, what? No. Shooting unwelcome visitors is certainly not ok in the UK, unless you fear for your life.
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Old 10-17-2018, 06:50 AM
Weirofhermiston Weirofhermiston is offline
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and, most importantly of all, THERE ARE NO DAMN FOREIGNERS.
Turns out that was a matter of policy, rather than accident. Not just foreigners, black and brown faces were considered unsuitable for Sunday night viewing as well. The producer of the series was hauled over the coals for saying so explicitly.

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...brian-true-may
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Old 10-17-2018, 06:56 AM
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Wait, what? No. Shooting unwelcome visitors is certainly not ok in the UK, unless you fear for your life.
I guess that's what is implied by the "unwelcome" part of the statement. I took it to be a bit of a euphemism rather than the equivalent of a Jehova's Witness or double-glazing salesman.

Certainly there is leeway given for using necessary and reasonable force right up to and including shooting someone dead.
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Old 10-17-2018, 07:20 AM
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I suspected as much. The primary occupation of Midsomerians seems to be putting on fetes. Which always serve as a catalyst for some kind of horrible crime.
Between Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, I am convinced that village fetes are certain death-traps.

Although, as UDS observes, many Midsomer residents are also murdered in their kitchens.
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:19 AM
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Between Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, I am convinced that village fetes are certain death-traps.
One thing I do know - at the first arrival of the detective, get the hell out of there fast - Poirot, Marple, etc seem to attract murders - if there isn't yet a murdered victim, it could be you.
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Old 10-17-2018, 08:20 AM
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I wonder how the body count in Midsomer Murders compares with its more high-brow predecessor, Inspector Morse. Set amongst the dreaming spires of that murder capital of England known as Oxford.
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:35 AM
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Between Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, I am convinced that village fetes are certain death-traps.

Although, as UDS observes, many Midsomer residents are also murdered in their kitchens.
True fact: John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a village fete. We're just lucky they both escaped the carnage that was sure to follow, or we would have never had the Beatles!

Murdered Midsomerites can also reliably be found at the site of whatever new hobby Mrs. Barnaby happens to be pursuing that week, or occasionally among his daughter's friends.
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:13 AM
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I wonder how the body count in Midsomer Murders compares with its more high-brow predecessor, Inspector Morse. Set amongst the dreaming spires of that murder capital of England known as Oxford.
I dunno. I think the highest per capita murder rate in the world must belong to Cabot Cove, Maine. I mean, the population is something like 600, but every episode, four or five citizens buy the farm.

Definitely avoid all social events attended by Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, either of the Barnabys, Jessica Fletcher, and Father Brown.


When I lived out in the country, I never locked the doors when I was away. I was so far off the road that someone could have sat there and MADE a key without anyone seeing. Also the windows were ground level and didn't lock. I'd rather someone just come in and help themselves without breaking any windows. I DID lock the doors when I was home. When we moved in, there was a key, but over the years the house shifted (pier & beam on sand) and the bolt no longer worked. When I sold the house, the new owners asked for the key, and I said, "There isn't one."
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:48 AM
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Turns out that was a matter of policy, rather than accident. Not just foreigners, black and brown faces were considered unsuitable for Sunday night viewing as well. The producer of the series was hauled over the coals for saying so explicitly.

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...brian-true-may
Mmm - yes, I wasn't joking. This is long established.

Incidentally, I realise now that there should have been a typo in my reply. I know it's unusual to say there should have been a typo, but I wrote:

"...... an imaginary England which never existed, where the post is delivered promptly twice a day...."

Clearly that should have been

"...... an imaginary England which never existed, where the PAST is delivered promptly twice a day...."

- (Kinda)

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Old 10-17-2018, 03:37 PM
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Midsomer, an allegedly sleepy country town has a murder rate of 3.2 per 100,000 population.
That's why it's twinned with Cabot Cove.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:38 PM
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I suspected as much. The primary occupation of Midsomerians seems to be putting on fetes. Which always serve as a catalyst for some kind of horrible crime.
You'll have heard of the "fete worse than death"?
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Old 10-17-2018, 05:23 PM
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You'll have heard of the "fete worse than death"?
That's bad, and you should be ashamed.
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Old 10-17-2018, 05:37 PM
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That's bad, and you should be ashamed.
Fair enough.

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Old 10-17-2018, 05:46 PM
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Not just foreigners, black and brown faces were considered unsuitable for Sunday night viewing as well.
Just to note that article is over 7 years old, and recent seasons have most certainly had a fair few black and brown faces, including that of the pathologist in seasons 18 & 19.
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Old 10-17-2018, 06:56 PM
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The producer of the series was hauled over the coals for saying so explicitly.

https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...brian-true-may
Ah, Brian True-May, creator of that paragon of military TV, Ultimate Farce Force.
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:47 AM
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That's why it's twinned with Cabot Cove.
after 235 murders None of Jessica Flatcher's friends seem the remotest bit worried about meeting her.

Hell I struggle to have 200 Facebook friends, let alone "proper" friends. She's had that many killed WHILST SHE WAS VISITING THEM.

Run, run for your lives, associates of JB Fletcher. Yes, this quiet town of Midsomer looks safe.

heh heh heh
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:19 PM
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Midsomer is actually a county. All of the towns have the word "Midsomer" as part of their names.
Alhtough the county town, Cawston, does not have "Midsomer' in the name. Plus, although Cawston is much the largest town in the county, no murders ever happen there, although they are routine incidents in almost every other settlement in the county.
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:20 PM
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True fact: John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a village fete. We're just lucky they both escaped the carnage that was sure to follow, or we would have never had the Beatles!

Murdered Midsomerites can also reliably be found at the site of whatever new hobby Mrs. Barnaby happens to be pursuing that week, or occasionally among his daughter's friends.
This. In fact Mrs Barnaby is the common factor that links a long series of otherwise apparently unconnected murders. I am astonished that the constabulary have not cottoned on to this. Unless, of course, she is being protected by some high-ranking member of the force?
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Old 10-19-2018, 07:44 PM
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Between Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, I am convinced that village fetes are certain death-traps.

Although, as UDS observes, many Midsomer residents are also murdered in their kitchens.
Don't forget that village fetes also usually afford one the opportunity to see a legendary band or solo performer for free.
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Old 10-20-2018, 04:43 PM
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I dunno. I think the highest per capita murder rate in the world must belong to Cabot Cove, Maine. I mean, the population is something like 600, but every episode, four or five citizens buy the farm.
In passing, can I highly recommend the BBC Radio 4 program "more or less". It deals with the stats behind the news stories and it is uniformly excellent and is precisely in line with the Dope's brief.

As it happens it dealt with precisely this issue and as I recall Midsomer was pretty dangerous but Cabot Cove was worse. (here's a clip...not sure if it is available overseas)
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:22 AM
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Some 55 years ago I spent my summer holidays on a small island (147 inhabitants) named Nyord.

When you came to visit someone you would immediately know whether they were at home or not; if a key was in the front door lock, they were out, else you would just clap your hands and enter.

Last edited by John.St; 10-21-2018 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:44 PM
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They should set the show in country Victoria. I'm not sure if my inlaws have ever locked a door in their life, unless they were going away for multiple days.
And, when I was young (which was long after the country was depopulated by modern farming and declining labour requirements ), you could knock, call, and wander into the kitchen to get a cold drink of water from the fridge.

In Aus, there is an offense of "unlawfully on premises', which, I think, means it's illegal to be inside without a lawful excuse. And, I think, a lawful excuse just means it can't be an unlawful excuse. But it does have to be an actual excuse, that you can convince a police sergeant or magistrate with -- just wandering around inside isn't an excuse. So, similar to old English trespass laws, but tighter and with penalties.

(This is far off at the edge of my legal knowledge).

Last edited by Melbourne; 10-21-2018 at 07:44 PM.
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