I could have walked a few extra feet around to the front of the house, via the 6 foot square of grass lying between our house and our neighbours', if it hadn't been for the picket fence, forming a barrier between the square of grass and the top of our shared drive. Somewhere in the house, there was a key to the small gate incorporated in the fence, but its whereabouts remained a well-kept secret.
Our back garden was totally enclosed by a 6 foot fence, in addition to a padlocked gate, so I picked up my carrier bags, resigning myself to the extra long walk along the remainder of the public footpath, and down another road, before I could reach the front door. I smiled to myself, as I remembered being in the same situation a few months ago, during the dark days of winter.
I was running a bit late, back then, so I was quite frustrated at the thought of wasting precious minutes, trekking around to the front of the house, by way of the public footpath. I sized up the picket fence between the houses, in the darkness, and decided that I could scramble over it with ease. My lack of length in the leg department, would easily be made up for by my determination. I walked softly across the grass, glancing at my neighbours' window, as I passed. The light was on, but the curtains were closed.
I was able to position the inside edge of the sole of my shoe, on the piece of wood positioned towards the bottom of the fence, even though my foothold was a mere fraction of an inch in width. I quickly flung my left leg over the fence, only to find that there was no corressponding foothold on the other side, resulting in my left leg flailing about wildly, a few inches short of the ground. I clung to the top of the fence, trapped momentarily by one of the pickets, which had lodged itself between my buttocks.
I prayed, for an instant, that my neighbours had not been disturbed by the rattling of the fence, and that my neighbour-who-did-not-like-me would not choose this moment to sweep up the shared drive in his 4 x 4, capturing me, with his headlights, in startled pose astride the picket fence. I quickly pulled myself together, and somehow managed to flex my right knee, thereby thrusting myself upwards, and clear of the wicked picket, which had temporarily immobilised me.
I sized up the fence for a second time, and made a last-ditch attempt. I gripped the fence with both hands, found the foothold and lifted myself upwards, positioned, between the pickets, on this occasion. My left foot landed on terra firma, and with a couple of quick hops, I was able to lift my right leg over the fence, so that both feet were now firmly planted on the ground. I straightened up, adjusted my clothing and headed triumphantly for the front door.
At 5' 1" and 54 years of age, I had managed to climb over a picket fence, with the speed, agility and recklessness of a 14 year old boy, whilst maintaining my dignity at all times. I hadn't 'put out' my back, or even broken a brittle bone. There really was some life in the old dog, yet.