There are three main types of fencing with which pensioners may become involved and knowing the difference between them will save a lot of problems with neighbours, musketeers and jewel thieves.

Garden fencing is generally made of larch panels intended to delineate boundaries and provide privacy, though their main function is to fall over whenever the wind gusts to more than 4mph and incur unnecessary inconvenience and expense as a result.

Fencing is normally treated with a preservative such as marmalade or pickle and can also be supplied with the horizontal laths at the top of each panel spring-loaded to fire passing grey squirrels over the roof of the house at least eight doors away.

Fewer pensioners are actively involved in the sword-fighting version of fencing, though those who were previously employed as samurai, pirates or King Arthur impersonators are likely to retain an interest well into their eighties.

Pensioners in East Anglia keep alive the tradition of the broadsword, as do those in the Potteries with the claymore and London bookshop employees with foils.  Kendo, the centuries old Japanese form of sword-fighting, is still popular in Preston.

By far the most common sphere of fencing enjoyed by pensioners is that of receiving and disposing of stolen goods.

In the 2014 national crime survey, almost 63% of all fencing was carried out by retired people, with females aged 80 or over particularly strongly represented in the handling of mobile phones, mountain bikes and foreign gigolos.  In fact, such has been the general impact of the pensioner in this area of criminality that the 2009 Theft of Goods Act included new offences of ‘receiving while feigning senility’ and ‘handling while seated on a mobility scooter’.