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The Flat Cap on ... Fence Panels

Today The Flat Cap has been looking at fence panels and paid a visit to a garden centre to learn more about the history and uses of this everyday item. According to the celebrated Victorian archaeologist Sir Crispin Walters fence panels date back to prehistoric times and were used to fill in the gaps between the colossal stones that comprise Stonehenge. These kept the wind off the druids, who felt the cold more than most. Instead of wearing bearskins and leather coats, like most stone age people, they tended to wander about in loose fitting bed sheets which offered little protection against the harsh wintry weather. You also have to remember that in those days there was no such thing as paracetamol or Lemsips, so if you caught a cold it could last for weeks. Think of a severe, and hard to shift, bout of man flu and you get the idea. Nowadays most druids just attend at the summer solstice when there is a greatly reduced chance of sleet, or a stiff breeze.

The Flat Cap on ... Fence Panels

Fence panels come in all shapes and sizes, although mostly they are rectangular. A lot of fence panels take their names from famous people or events in history. The most notable examples are listed in the interesting facts below. People who host gardening programmes tend to ignore the merits of fence panels, preferring instead to concentrate on flowers and plants. It’s the same at horticultural shows where show gardens seldom use fence panels to best effect, if ever at all.

The Flat Cap spoke to a garden centre customer called Arthur and discovered some interesting fence panel facts:

  • Waney lap fence panels get their name from the actor John Wayne whose surname is an anagram of “Waney”. Originally christened Marion, Wayne allegedly changed his name because it sounded a bit girly

  • John Wayne made his on screen debut in the film “Stagecoach”. The stagecoach itself was partly made from re-cycled fence panels

  • The tops of fence panels can be flat, contoured, arched or scalloped

  • Old fence panels comprise an astonishing 18% of all the wood used on Bonfire Night bonfires

  • Between 1997 and 2005 the British garden makeover television series “Ground Force” used over 700 fence panels. Charlie Dimmock who was a female presenter (despite having a blokey name) boosted viewing figures by never wearing a bra. Nowadays if you want to watch episodes of the programme you have to tune in to one of those crappy freeview channels that television providers chuck in to make you feel like you’ve got loads of choice, whereas in fact all you’ve got are more opportunities to watch rubbish

  • Most fence panels are delivered in pickup trucks, but the pickup trucks in the UK are usually smaller than their counterparts in North America

  • Picket fences get their name because they were used to coral striking Grunwick workers and their supporters between 1976 and 1978. After objections from environmentalists, concerned about the number of trees being cut down to maintain law and order, police forces developed “kettling” to contain unruly mobs. And, under EU law all police stations must have at least two functioning electric kettles in case detainees fancy a cup of tea

  • Only one member of the British acapella group “The Flying Pickets” actually has a picket fence in his front garden

  • The average number of fence panels in a British garden fence is nine

  • It would take almost two thousand fence panels to encircle Sir Elton John’s house and garden

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