Heather Smith
Before I begin this story I'd like you to get to know my dear husband, Edgerton. Here are some words that describe him (oddly enough, all beginning with the letter P): Particular, Persnickety, Punctilious and Precise. So when he told me he was going to build a fence for our backyard I knew that a Painstaking Process was about to begin.


After snorting and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, Edgie began by working on his spreadsheet. Yes, a spreadsheet. You see, earlier that week, he had recoiled in horror at seeing our neighbour's newly built fence with its vertical boards of UNEVEN SPACING. He had pulled me to the window to show me.

"Just look at that."


"The neighbour's new fence."

"What about it?"

"Can't you see it?"

"See what?"

I think poor Edgerton thought I was toying with him here. But I wasn't. Really. All I saw was a perfectly respectable fence.

"The bloody fence. Just look at it. The bloody boards are not evenly spaced. Are you bloody blind? Do you need your bloody eyes checked?"

So I started to laugh, as I always do when Edgerton is Permeating with Puzzlement and Perplexity.

"It's not funny, you know. It's a bloody atrocity. And they've bloody well nailed their boards in. Not screwed, NAILED!"

Uneven spacing. An atrocity, indeed. So to avoid a similar abomination, Edgie went to his trusty computer and entered a bunch of old gobbledygook. Then, after Pressing 'Print', he Pretentiously Produced a Print-out of a Perfectly Precise Prospectus. Looked like Poppycock to me.


Edgie is a geek, this is true, but I must admit he is quite a manly geek. When it came time to actually build the fence he took off his plaid shirt and Pocket Protector and put on his testosterone laced coveralls and went to work. As handy as he is, however, the fence was not built in a day. The reason: Plumb. Yes, every single board had to be Perfectly Plumbed.

I was given a level and asked to help. Edgie would hold the board and my job was to level it so that he could screw it in.

I looked at the bobbing bubble. That'll do. "Okay," I said, "go ahead and screw it in. It's level."

But Edgerton would never be able to press the button on his electric screw gun thingy until he checked the level for himself. His eyes widened.

"Level? What do you mean level? That's not level. Can't you bloody see that? Look at the bloody bubble."

I shrugged. "Looks like it's centered to me."

Edgie became Peremptory and Pompous. "Look at that fence over there," he huffed. "I do not want ours to look anything like that. I do not want our fence to be banged up in a couple of hours in a willy-nilly fashion resulting in wonky and skewiff boards."

(Did I mention that Edgie is a Brit, hence the use of words like "skewiff"?)


So after two weekends of meticulous calculations and a lot of elbow grease, Edgerton has built us a lovely fence. Each board is lovingly screwed in perfectly straight and the spacing is exact - no skewiffiness in sight.

I enjoy my backyard now and sit out on every fine day. With my neighbours now blocked from my view, I pretend I am in a meadow on the Yorkshire Dales. The yapping of the neighbour's dog has been transformed into the pleasant baaing of a sheep. The birds seem to sing louder now that we have a fence. I lie in the grass thinking about going to the Delightful Dales pub for a Ploughman's Lunch, a beer, and a chat with the locals but change my mind when the baaing of the sheep suddenly turns intense, frantic. Oh my good God! Could I be faced with a veterinary emergency? What would James Herriot do? Think, woman, think. Then it comes to me. I'd read about it a million times in All Creatures Great and Small. That sheep was birthing a lamb!!! I leap over the seven foot fence (in a single bound, of course) and assist in the birthing process.

"Get your hands off my dog's ass!"

I am brought back to reality by my shouting neighbour and skulk back to my backyard. But, miraculously, once back within the confines of my new fence the nasty episode with the dog/sheep instantly dissolves and I am in the Yorkshire Dales again. James Herriot appears and tells me I made a bloody good effort with that pregnant sheep and that my neighbour could have been a bit more grateful. He says that us veterinary surgeons are unappreciated and why doesn't he take me to the Delightful Dales for a pint. Ahhhh. My newly fenced-in backyard is wonderful!!!!

So now I have a new P word to describe dear Edgerton - Prestidigitator - because that fence is magic! My Perfectly Plumbed Palisade is Pure Paradise!!!
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