No more chatting over the garden fence

It used to be my mum's favourite pastime, having a gossip with Mrs Pearce (we never did know her first name), over the garden fence for what seemed like hours.


It was a routine that started with the washing line and they'd work their way along until they'd reach the comfort of the fence.


There was always a lot of nodding, sighing and laughter. There was even food exchanged. A steamed meat pudding which had just finished rattling around in a saucepan of water and still had its brown paper hat on, or a plate of tripe for dad's dinner. Mum hated tripe but was always grateful. Bloomin slimy stuff she used to call it.


Of course, the fences were a lot lower then. I could reach up and hold Mrs Pearces hand, as she used to babysit me and my slightly older and delicate sister from time to time, or take a boiled sweet from her which she'd found for me in her 'pinny'.


I was then told every day how much I'd grown up, and I'd skip off quite happily to go and play mud pies or forage for snails under my dads rose bushes. Of course mum told me never to tell dad where I'd found the snails, the roses weren't to be touched.


Today, every wants their privacy. Every fence is over six feet tall, with usually a giant trampoline on the other side. You can't see children playing now, all you hear is the shouting and sometimes the screams when you know something has gone wrong. With a world which is so obsessed with safety we've lost the love of our neighbours. We're all so security conscious with floodlights lighting up our gardens like football stadiums.


Of course now we have to keep two meters apart, so we are even more isolated. We're all too busy now and you haven't spoken to your neighbours since you moved in thirteen years ago.


And definitely no chatting over the fence.

I could reach up and hold Mrs Pearces hand, as she used to babysit me and my slightly older and delicate sister from time to time, or take a boiled sweet from her which she'd found for me in her 'pinny'.