Don’t fence me in…

About a month past, the stormy winds which did blow, blew out a garden fence panel. It was on the side that our neighbours have responsibility for, so it was up to them to get it fixed. To compound things the fence posts either end of the fence panel had both rotted away at ground level and it was only the gravel boards holding the thing together.

The young couple next door has a small child and seem to work all the hours sent in weird shift patterns, so in the spirit of neighbourliness I thought I’d buy a couple of new posts, dig out the old ones, repair the panel that had come loose and pop everything back. I took this high-handed decision because several years ago “we” had paid to have the entire fence replaced, both sides and back. We had different neighbours then and the fence was in a lamentable state so seeing as how we were replacing the fence within our bailiwick, we said to the neighbours that we’d bear the cost for the whole thing. We could afford it and they were a bit brassic.

It seemed a good plan, those neighbours were friendly, and we’d get uniform fencing.
We chose 5-foot-high panels for the most part with some four-foot panels topped with one-foot-high trellis panels. In the house deeds it stipulates that the fences may not be higher than six feet and five feet seemed about right with the four feet plus trellis sections enabling conversations across the fence while giving the illusion of privacy. We chose this arrangement on both sides as our neighbours back then were both amiable sorts and we enjoyed the occasional cross-fence conversation.

I took delivery of the new parts and removed the rotted fence posts and the troubled fence panel. It was than that I discovered that the posts hadn’t been installed in holes, they were simply standing on some concrete hardstanding, and it had indeed been the gravel boards and the rest of the fencing that were holding it all up!

I really didn’t feel like chiselling holes in the concrete, even though I have a selection of suitable chisels and hammers. Bugger!

It was shortly afterwards that the chap from next door, who I had been talking to beforehand, said that I shouldn’t worry as “they” would get the fence mended, it was after all their responsibility, and they would do it. He even offered me a handful of cash to buy the new fence posts that I’d obtained.

A week later a couple of workies appeared and started to make holes in the concrete and before you could say “Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses” the fence was repaired utilising the fence posts that I had bought and new fence panels, they decided to replace three panels, which left me with the original panel that I’d removed. Great, I can use bits from that to repair other bits of fence, as and when…

All this fence malarkey got me to thinking, when did neighbours become so unneighbourly?
The people a few doors up have erected what look like seven-foot fences around their small plot of land, maybe they are only six feet, but they certainly look high. It must be like a prison yard in there, these houses only have small gardens. Most of the fences in the gardens that back on to us have six-foot-high fences.

A year ago, I wrote a blog piece in which I fondly recalled the two-up, two down house that I’d grown up in; the house has an entry on the Rightmove website and there are photos of the interior and garden, albeit taken with, as I said in the earlier piece, that ultra-wide-angle lens so beloved of estate agents which distorts everything to buggery.

The house now has a small rear extension and being in Berkhamsted, is valued at some far-fetched and fantastic amount (my parents bought it for £500.00), but it was the photos of the garden which caught my attention.

They look like six-foot-high fences to me.
When I was a young lad, running about in that garden, just about all the fences were three, maybe three-foot-six high, and chain-link fences to boot, not wooden shiplap or overlap or whatever they are called.

In fact, there was no fence between our garden and the next one along and the other fences, being chain link, you could see into next door’s garden and into their next door’s and so on. It gave the impression that you were out in the open. You could almost see to the horizon!

Now of course, almost everyone has tall wooden fences to keep out, what? Accidentally catching the eye of that bloke next door?
Having to acknowledge other people?
Community?
How have we come so far yet lost so much?

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences,
Gaze at the moon till i lose my senses,
I can’t look at hobbles and i can’t stand fences,
Don’t fence me in.

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