‘You’ll need to get planning permission.’ The council official pushed the form and guidance notes across the desk,’ plus there’s a £120 fee to pay.’

‘Surely I can put up a fence on my own property without asking permission?’ The homeowner was bristling.

‘No, sir. You see  we get lots of complaints about people’s hedges, some growing to an enormous height. We’ve even had a few nasty altercations involving the police with neighbours poisoning trees, and one man even used a chainsaw.’

‘Yes but…’

It’s Council policy , Sir.’

‘Whatever happened to an Englishman’s castle?’

‘Castles are covered on page 34, paragraphs five to  eight, I believe.’

‘But I only want to put up a ruddy wooden fence. It won’t grow any bloody bigger!’

‘Under our policy Boundary Enclosures, what you might grow beside it is also covered. Plant  Leylandii and five yeas later we’ve got a monster causing us problems. that’s why we insist on you applying for permission. If the fence grows; we will cut it down and charge you £750.’

‘I pay me taxes…’

‘Good to hear it.’

‘…and what do you get-interfering busybodies! I’m going to complain to my MP.’

‘Don’t forget your forms, Sir.’