The first time I was locked in a police holding cell I was four years old. I was with my preschool class and we were getting to know the local community. Why we couldn't have just gone to the post office or the newsagent is a mystery, but there we were, behind bars at the local police station, wailing and blubbering because we were never, ever going to get out.
It's hard to be four years old and keep incarceration in perspective, but I understood the lesson: you must be good otherwise you will end up in here.
Bloody preschool teachers. As if I didn't have enough going on, what with worrying about the economics of the tooth fairy and whether we were heading into another ice age (yep, Canberra was an awesome place to grow up). So I internalised this lesson and got on with self-regulating, and have suffered ever since.
For how else can you describe a 33-year old nervously hunched over a photocopier in a university library, casting furtive glances over her shoulder, absolutely sure the Copyright Police will arrive at any moment?
It was probably ok to photocopy those first few chapters; there are certain acceptable limits for copying from published works, provided the copied material is but a small percentage of the overall work and is properly accredited. It was probably ok to copy a few bits from the middle as well, after all the beginning makes no sense without the middle.
But when I reached the end of the book I had most certainly gone too far. The copyright notice at eye level on the wall above the copier was put there just for me, I'm sure, with its menacing list of fines and imprisonments. And when the alarm sounded across the building for closing time, I was sure, for a split second, the photocopier had given me up: the counter had gone too far too fast, every sensor and camera in the library knew I had broken the law.
So congratulations, preschool teachers of Canberra, 1979. Your easy way to pass an afternoon led directly to the fettering of my previously unfettered mind and the end of my childhood whimsy (and free and easy relationship with photocopiers). I say take kids to a petting zoo and let them chase chickens instead.