Monday, May 25, 2015
Man the Decks
My book business is going through a rather quiet period at the moment, so I've taken the opportunity to transform our garden from a toxic, post-apocalyptic wasteland into something that looks vaguely respectable, with decking, pot plants and freshly-painted walls.
The decking was done by a retired man, who proudly told us that he'd learned his carpentry skills at a borstal. According to his son, he should be dead, having been electrocuted twice, surviving a heart attack in his 50s and falling off a number of buildings.
He also has a metal plate in his leg.
"It's his own fault," the son explained. "He's never been one to worry about health and safety. He's got this daft idea that it's safer to walk on a roof barefoot."
On one occasion, the son was working with his father on a roofing job when he heard him crying out and sliding down the tiles. Suddenly, the sliding stopped.
"It's all right," the father yelled, "My foot got stopped by the top of the ladder. I'm okay now...wooaahhh..."
At this point, the ladder began to fall backwards and the father was catapulted through the air.
He escaped with barely a scratch.
Fortunately, the cavalier attitude had clearly mellowed over the years and he worked carefully and conscientiously, producing a wonderful result. It was inspiring to watch a man who was 20 years older make light work of such a demanding job. What was his secret?
I decided to be brave and ask him how he kept so young: "So what's your secret then?"
His face lit up. He slowly turned to me and said "That would be lovely. White, no sugar please."