Monday, May 25, 2015

Man the Decks

It's been a disappointingly cool May, but I've grown to like the soft, pastel colours and muted shadows that grey skies produce. Even mundane objects like this Victorian flint and brick wall can seem a thing of beauty.

I'd probably feel differently if I lived in somewhere like Croydon, where overcast skies only serve to accentuate the drabness of concrete office blocks and municipal car parks. But in the South Downs, a grey sky looks like an Eric Ravilious watercolour.

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."


Rog said...

Most amusing!

Perhaps he was given a free "pardon?" at Borstal

Canadian Chickadee said...

What a great story. I'm still smiling. xoxox

George said...

One tends to forget just how dangerous construction work can be. I know at least three people who have had bad falls in the last few years. All survived, but it could easily have been otherwise. I suppose your fellow may have neglected the ear protection as well.

mahlerman said...

Laugh - I had to swim out of my trousers.

Annabel said...

Central Croydon is indeed as you describe, luckily I lived on the southern outskirts which are actually close to some proper countryside - Phew!

zmkc said...

Well I ought to feel 12 and a half if it's tea consumption that keeps you young

Unknown said...

Pedantically - you only get electrocuted once, at the most.

Just discovered you - I like it here, and I plan to be back. Text is informative and worthwhile, and I could eat the photos with a spoon.

All the very best.

Steerforth said...

Thanks David - I did wonder whether you could be electrocuted more than once. It sounds more impressive than a mere electric shock. Glad you enjoyed the blog and photos. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.