Arkwood and I got ourselves a Raspberry Pi. ‘Man, look at this,’ my friend said, his greedy hands reaching for the bare circuit board. I slapped his wrist. ‘Don’t touch it, until you have discharged static electricity from your person.’ How should I do that, he enquired. I suggested he wash the evening’s dishes. ‘Hot water does the trick, it says here,’ I responded, pointing to an imaginary paragraph in the practical guide for setting up the tiny computer.
Housing the Pi in its protective plastic casing, we began to insert peripherals. I yanked the HDMI cable out of the back of our Xbox, using it to hook up our fruity device to the TV set. Next, Arkwood placed the SD card into the front of the board, ready to load the software. Plugging a keyboard and mouse into the available USB slots, and raping the Xbox of its internet cable for use in the Ethernet port, we were ready to go. But the TV screen remained stubbornly black. ‘Suppose we better give it some power,’ Arkwood said. I rapped him across the ear, whilst linking the mains adapter to the Micro-USB power connector.
It took no time at all to select an operating system on the SD card – plumping for the Raspbian – and booting into the Desktop.
‘Type startx,’ I screamed at my bedfellow.
‘No! Type sudo apt-get update,’ he replied, red-cheeked.
25 minutes later, once the initial novelty had worn off, I said, whilst thumbing through the manual, ‘Hey, let’s attach a webcam. We can get it to take periodic photographs of something. Something useful.’ Arkwood and I sat stumped for a few minutes, until my buddy sprang to his feet in a fit of excitement. ‘I know what we can monitor! That old bat across the road, who is always twitching her curtains. Why, just the other day I felt her beady eyes upon my back, as I walked around the house in my birthday suit. She is always prying on us, the trout.’ Ark was so annoyed, spittle was collecting on his bottom lip.
I found an old webcam and added it to our Raspberry Pi, installing the required Motion software. ‘Easy as Pi,’ I chuckled. ‘Easy Pi-sy,’ Arkwood replied heartily. In no time at all we had the lens positioned from our living room window to the decrepit whore’s drapes across the road. But it was no good – every time a vehicle went past the camera would take a snap, corrupting our data storage.
Plan B, suggested by my confidant, involved running a cable across the road, so that we could get the webcam positioned in her weed-strewn garden. But it was ruled out on account of it being A stupid fuckin’ idea. ‘The traffic will chew up the wire, you muppet!’
Plan C required the tricky matter of shinning up the telegraph pole, to wrap the cable into the electrical wires that traversed above the road. Plan C had to be abandoned, alas, due partly to the conspicuous nature of its application, and also because Arkwood was electrocuted.
We had reached an impasse, until we found just the ticket in the Argos catalogue. ‘A wireless webcam,’ I howled with delight.
Under cover of darkness, we placed the webcam in the geriatric’s front lawn, sheltered in a upturned plant pot with a hole smashed out for the lens. And, by Jove, it worked! Each evening we came home from our respective employers, we would sit down and peruse the afternoon’s snaps of our nosy neighbour, Barbara Henderson, where her ruffling of the curtains had caused the motion detector to trigger. On the first day there were no less than thirty-six JPEGs of her peeking between the hanging fabric. Next day, thirty-seven. ‘She’s consistent. I’ll give her that,’ Arkwood commended.
But that was not the end of it. Soon we hooked up our security halogen floodlight on the side of our house to the Raspberry Pi, realigning its 400-watt glare towards the 86-year-old’s bay window. Now, each time the webcam triggered, the lamp would flash. How hard we laughed, tears of mirth upon our cheeks, as we flipped through the photographs. ‘Ha! You can see her bony old fingers slip down the curtain, as she takes a tumble,’ my chum cried. It was true. Despite the ferocious burst of light washing out the snap, you could still see the thick cloth being pulled taut, as she clutched so as to ease her fall.
‘You know, Arkwood,’ I announced, ‘Some say technology erodes privacy. I say, Poppycock! Now you can strut about the house in your birthday suit all you want, without the lustful eyes of some ancient fossil upon you, leering at your pert lily-white buttocks.’