Of course, the crank is supposed to face the direction of the possible fence climber, in the case of a whisky factory or a nurse’s home it should face outwards, but around a prison or perhaps China and North Korea it should face inwards. All very simple, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I pointed out in my article several examples of misuse that we have seen locally. The first was indeed at a prison, a length of the perimeter fence was seemingly built to keep intruders out! I also reported the several houses in our valley with fences designed to keep the occupants in and I believe I mentioned, as my pièce-de-résistance, the fence around a nearby bird sanctuary. You guessed it! The fence was apparently erected not to keep the homeless from getting in and stealing birds’ eggs or taking shelter in one of the hides, it was constructed to stop any of the birds climbing over to their freedom. I’d like to report surveillance cameras and searchlights at regular intervals, but truthfully, I didn’t see any.
Yesterday Frau and I spotted another example to make you marvel at the mentality of the planners. Large areas of our nearest town were low swampland in ancient times and remained so until the start of the 20th century when canals were dug and the fresh water rivers disciplined by berms, bunds or levees in order to let the land drain. Most of that land is indeed drained and has been developed. There are roads of course and sensibly most of the canals have roads running alongside, usually along both sides. Through the town the canals have been well fenced to prevent pedestrians from falling into them. The fences are at a sensible waist-height and are constructed of very decorative wrought timber -- nice.
Encountering more problems
So, the other day we had occasion to drive along one of those canals a little upstream of the main town, out into the suburbs; here the planners had thought it necessary to have fences on both sides of the canal about three meters high with wire mesh attached to steel posts; the steel posts to have the 45 degree crank on the top. Again you have guessed, haven’t you? Yes, on both banks of the canal the fences have been erected such that should some fool fall into the canal from one of the footbridges with their waist-high handrails they may well be able to eventually scramble to the bank and, after catching their breath they may climb the steep grassed bank but then will surely not be able to escape over the fence! It’s that awful barbed-wire crank at the top that’ll get them.
I think I may also, in the past, have let loose another bee from my proverbial bonnet. Let us start with the premise that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. I follow that up with the proposition that the most important element of good design is functionality and that functionality trumps artistic fancy absolutely. Now then, when the well-to-do buy a piece of land for development in our valley, the first thing they do is to build a new gateway. The gateway’s main function seems to be to announce the wealth and/or the self-perceived status of the owner. The gateway must be grand. The gate posts will be massive far beyond function and may well include niches in the front, there in the future to house some as yet undecided tribute to the owner. The posts may be surmounted by fancy lights, but better still a pair of statuettes; eagles and lions are very popular. The gates themselves will invariably be in iron, wrought with twists and scrolls and finished with arrow-heads at the top, all painted black and gold. The tops of the two gates when closed will form a classical ogee arch or variation thereof. Now if the walls are new then they too will be fanciful and usually involve pillars at regular intervals, complete with lamps atop and some form of arch between the pillars. If the existing walls are substantial and in good order then, in the interest of economy, they may not be replaced. The point I wish to make is relevant to both cases. A chain is as strong as its weakest link and a house perimeter wall is as effective as its lowest point. All the arches, arrow heads, filigree and whim above the level of the lowest half-meter length of the supposed barrier to intrusion is humbug and should be seen as such.
Our farmers have long since given up on building or maintaining stone walls; they very often pile half a meter of thorn bush along their boundaries. The thorns will prevent passage in or out by most farm animals and deter most humans. Well-clad feet and legs will enable a determined melon thief to climb in, but it would be far easier to use the gate. The simplest old style farmer’s gates are not hinged; two ladder-like posts at either side of the opening take four or five horizontal poles which are simply removed to allow access. Removing two poles will allow a pedestrian to step over the remainder and the removal of all will allow a vehicle to pass through.
The alternative to the thorn deterrent around fields brings us back, of course, to the post and wire fence. All too often they also have the cranked top. I would venture to suggest that the cranked top is completely unnecessary to prevent the successful scaling by an animal and its escape to freedom. Neither can I imagine any sane person attempting to climb a two meter fence to steal a handful of fruit or vegetables.
Actually, the need for the high walls around new houses is a bit of a puzzle in itself. Our own garden wall stands about 1meter high and although we have very occasionally had passers-by in our garden picking flowers I see no great need to spend thousands of Lira to safeguard our meager crop; I’m sure our tortoises, snails and crickets destroy more than is stolen.
What a pity that hedgerows are not more widely used around fields and gardens in Turkey as they are in Europe. It is true that the lack of summer rain in some parts would restrict the choice of shrub which could be used but I can personally recommend one which seems to need very little water and which makes a very effective deterrent to the passage of man. It may be called holly-oak, but we are not sure. What we are sure of is that it has very prickly leaves and that after being pricked ones legs itch like crazy. We have water tanks up on rock shelves above the house, but I have not reached them for several years due to those shrubs getting out of hand. I’m convinced they would make a very effective barrier around fields and also around the boundaries of houses. Come to think of it, prisons would find it useful in that it would stop people breaking either in or out.
Finally, we could plant the shrub densely along the banks of all canals and rivers so that the fools who fall from bridges into the foaming torrent will be prevented from escaping and dripping muddy water all over our nice clean roads.