Is sex worth shouting about?
Caroline Cartwright from Washington escaped a jail sentence yesterday despite her noisy love-making breaching an ASBO which was imposed after neighbours complained about her incessant cries of passion.
I have to say the case was reported on Look North with no hint of a snigger despite the British penchant for innuendo. I half expect to see Barbara Windsor appearing in a 2010 remake of "Carry on Screaming".
It's interesting it ever got to a crown court hearing in the first place. It will worry those who fear the state is too keen to snoop on the private lives of citizens. Sunderland Council installed recording devices next door in case Caroline and husband Steve decided to cosy up and break the permissible sound barrier.
Reportedly they reached a crescendo of 47 decibels - way above 30 which the World Health Organisation says can cause sleep disturbance.
They've certainly caused a lot of friction in their neighbourhood. Late sessions spanning several hours have frayed the nerves of those trying to get a good night's sleep in Concord.
As a young reporter I recall covering all the restrictions imposed on opencast mining operations to minimise the disruption to local residents. There was a ban on any knee-trembling explosions after dark or at weekends. For industry that's fair enough, but now with ASBOs it's clear the state is also able to regulate what goes on behind closed doors when it can be heard down the street.
An earlier court hearing heard the amorous pair imposed their own curfew and restricted their activities to mornings only.
I had similar thoughts last weekend when I wanted to mow the lawn and decided it would not be reasonable to bother with my hover until after a 10:00 am watershed. Surely even on a day of rest no-one can complain at a neighbour's front lawn being given the once over?
As distressed as the neighbours clearly were by the noise levels you can't help but wonder if in their situation you wouldn't harbour just a tiny element of envy at the regularity of the Cartwright's bedroom antics.
Caroline Cartwright insists she is perplexed as she has been this noisy for 26 years, but has only recently been the subject of complaints. The judge had no doubts branding her "thoroughly selfish" and warning her next time it'll be jail.
Only today the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke questioned our bulging prison population. He'll surely be subjected to a noisy outcry if we end up putting a woman behind bars for a crime of passion?
I suspect the soon to be disbanded One North East wouldn't want the couple to front their "Passionate People - Passionate Places" campaign, but the Cartwrights of Washington do rather fit the bill.