Observing etiquette; reality

There is a conundrum that raises its ugly little head early in the first episode of series 5 of Lewis.

Prof Diana Ellerby is having emotions because of the untimely death of her chum Poppy.

Somebody hit Poppy on the head with a blunt object, after which she fell down some stairs and broke her neck.

Inspector Lewis is chewing the fat with Prof Ellerby about the matter in her picturesque Oxford garden, when his offsider DS Hathaway does the decent thing and hands her a handkerchief.

Prof Enderby blows her nose.

Then she hands the handkerchief back.

The matter is not explored in series 5, which begins this Saturday on Prime, but what is the protocol?

Does one quietly keep the offending item, wash it, and send it back by post?

Is it better to offer the mucus-soiled package back to its owner?

It is not the only conundrum on Lewis.

I am not the only person to raise the issue of the quite unrealistic murder rate in both Oxford, where Lewis is set, and Midsomer, where Midsomer Murders is set.

It has been estimated that with Lewis solving eight murders in a month in one series, and with the Oxford population sitting at about 150,000, the murder rate is 11 times that of New York.

The number of genuine Oxford murders in 2007-08, for instance, was actually one - an ex-soldier stabbed in the neck in a pub.

In fact, the Thames Valley police do a very good job.

There were just 291 domestic burglaries, 86 vehicle thefts, and 339 thefts from vehicles in the last year.

There were 830 cases of violence, down 25%, and 814 cases of criminal damage, down 18%.

In total, all crime was down 14%, and the police are targeting a further 5% cut in the 2012-13 year.

Sadly, and I blame shows such as Lewis, the public is not convinced.

The Oxford City Council's annual community safety talkback survey includes a question about how much respondents agree or disagree that the police and the local council are dealing with anti-social behaviour and crime issues.

The score for Oxford was 50.2% in 2010 and 46.6% in 2011, which showed a decrease in public confidence.

This is just one way quality English police dramas are destroying society from within like a parasitical disease.

If you are not bothered by all this, and feel you can watch anyway, Lewis this week sees our heroes trying to solve Poppy's death at Lady Matilda's College for ladies.

There are rowing sequences and lovely Oxford buildings.

"What do you think we're looking at, a burglary gone wrong?" someone asks.

No way in the world, Sunshine, no way in the world.


- Charles Loughrey.