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Erecting a fence terrifies Rab more than ghosts…

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I have had a dream… about garden fencing. How sad is that? I should say my dreams are sometimes more exciting.

Most involve journalism, usually a crisis in which I cannot file an important news story because the technology isn’t working. My salad days as a news reporter occurred during the introduction of “new” technology, which never, ever worked.

Papers (not this one!) sent us out with terrible machines, lacking batteries and even, on one occasion, a plug. Ten minutes from deadline, nearly finished stories would disappear… for ever. On my first assignment for one paper, the newsroom’s one working laptop didn’t work as usual, so I’d to type my story on an electronic contacts book slightly smaller than a mobile phone, then read it out to copytakers.

In the dreams, no one helps, which again adds a disturbing note of realism. Not so realistic are the dreams I’ve had more often lately: of being haunted. Objects rise and float about the room. I cannot think where this comes from. I don’t watch horror films and, indeed, disapprove of the genre, as I disapprove of most things.

But erecting a fence terrifies me more than ghosts. Last time I tried, it dominated my life for weeks: 50 yards on uneven terrain. I couldn’t get the posts to stand straight, even using concrete bases. I’d put them in straight but tensioning the steel wire pulled them askew.

Looking at the long fence today, though, it’s not too bad: just a few poles seriously skew-whiff. I consider it an achievement. I never finished fencing the garden (the 50 yards was just one side) as I couldn’t face carrying on, but have had to reconsider it with the deer getting in.

I know the spot whence they arrive, down at one corner, and the spot where they skedaddle oot, between two trees near another corner. I blocked off the latter rather messily with a wrecked section of discarded slatted fence that I found, repaired, painted and manhandled up the slope. Weighed a ton. With considerable difficulty, I wedged it between the two trees through which the deer are wont to exeunt.

But the corner where they get in is much bigger, and will need a proper barrier. So I had a thought: plastic fencing. You could surely just nail that to the posts without all that tensioning palaver. I spent hours researching it online before choosing some to buy and filling in all the details, after which the usual message came up: “We do not deliver to the Scottish Highlands”. Groan.

Meanwhile, the dreams started. It was the plastic fencing. It sagged and buckled. Oh, the horror! I woke in a sweat, crying gratefully: “Oh, it was just a dream!” Apart from anything else, it seems you have to use lengths of metal wire top, middle and bottom to tension up the plastic or PVC, which kinda defeats the point. Enough tension in my life already!

Face it, folks: this project has defeat written all over it. Worse still, my dream faithfully reflected reality, as it featured me wailing my usual mantra of defeat: “I’m going to have to get a man in.” Or maybe a ghost. If they’re going to move stuff aboot, maybe they could try their ethereal hands with fence-posts.

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