During these snows of January, I've just done my first post of 2010:
It's actually a post, you see?
For holding a fence up.
Just be glad you wore your corset, for surely the sheer humour I spurted forth then might otherwise have split your very sides in twain.
I am to DIY what Douglas Bader was to the hurdles. Other than life hurdles I mean, because he was pretty good at getting over them.
However, after owning my own house for the last decade or so, I have acquired a modicum of skill in fixing the basics, like shelves, fuses and light bulbs, because all of these things can be repaired using sellotape and a hammer.
One cannot, however, own an estate as grand as mine without it occasionally throwing up a problem which I've not previously encountered. Having been very lucky with my boundaries over the years, a snapped fence post was completely new to me.
Striding over the hills and valleys to the far border of my grounds*, I was rather taken aback by the fence swinging freely in the wind, the post being held up like a drunk bloke by his slightly less drunk mates following a successful night out, perhaps just after the vomiting stage but before the kebab stage.
Two questions occur to me when faced with an unfamiliar task, and it's the same questions I ask when I'm about to have sex. How much will it cost me, and can I do it myself?
In this case, I decided on giving it a go, with some advice from my Father-in-law, who's amateurish efforts on his own fence ten years ago are still solidly in place, which is all the qualification I need to know really.
First, there was a lot of digging, or because this is the winter, chipping to be done. Removal of the tundra around the post turned out to be relatively easy when compared with getting the rotten bits of wood out of the lump of concrete at it's base, beneath the soil. The concrete itself was huge. It had been modelled on the asteroid that had wiped out the dinosaurs. Seriously, you could go abseiling down it.
The person who built our house before selling it to us, who I shall allude to as Greg, it being his name, was a thorough sort of chap. Went for the belt and braces, better safe than sorry style of construction, and a bit of a perfectionist to boot. He even had matching bricks made for the extension so it went with the old 1939 building. A fence must have a sound base in which to sit, and Greg appears to have used a substantial portion of Europe's cement reserves for that very purpose.
When Greg built the fence, he obviously wanted to ensure it would stay in situ for ever, long after puny humanity had nuked or virused itself into oblivion. In future eons, when the evolved tapirs that will undoubtedly replace us as the most outwardly intelligent critters on the planet nose their way through the wreckage, the one shining monument to our brief existence will be Greg's fence.
Or at least the lumps of concrete beneath.
Unfortunately, he forgot that the posts are made of wood and so are prone to rot. Shortsighted really. I would've made them out of that stuff that Wolverine's skellington is made of.
Due to a slight dearth of technical skill and brute strength, removal of the tectonic plate that Greg had installed was out of the question, so we used plan B, and chipped as much of the wood out as possible before replacing it with a scaffold of old Dexion from a scrap yard.
Man I love that stuff. It's basically good for repairing anything. Fences, shelves, cars, harmonicas, fractured vertebrae. Brilliant. I always try to have a few metres lying about.
So, instead of having a professional, neat and long lasting job, I now have a self-repaired, but still hopefully long lasting job, which I can cover up with the all-forgiving tidiness of more concrete:
Look at that. It's like a post on stilts.
When all that was finished, I was able to to reward myself by playing in the snow with my kid. Last year, we went out and made a snow gargoyle, which was so successful and lauded throughout the land that I thought it wouldn't hurt to have another go:
The only criticism from last year was that it didn't terrify the religious kids down the road enough, so I've tried to address that problem.
That'll learn 'em to be so freakishly polite when they pass the gate.
It's a pity the tongue fell off mind.
* This is a slight exaggeration. I only have one valley in the grounds, and I totally couldn't touch my fence from my back door with a broom handle because I'm dead posh and rich me. I've eaten polenta.