Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 4 October 2012
The highest point in Salisbury, and one of the highest points in Southern England. Those lights are to deter airplanes from clipping it, and I guess the wind meter is to... er... show the speed of the wind? Some brave fellow climbs up the outside on those steel rungs every now and then. That's a job I would have relished a while ago.
Hands up who is afraid of heights?
I have been scared of many things, but only scared of heights a couple of times, when I was just about to fall from great ones. The previous post shows me - many years ago - when I was carving some replacement details on the Theatre Royal here in Bath. Those lumps of stone were hauled up by hand (ok, using a chain-hoist) two lifts at a time.
The technique was to haul each block up through the bars of the scaffold, then let it down on some planks placed beneath it so that the chain-hoist could be repositioned two lifts higher, to take it up further until it reached the top.
For all four lyres, this procedure took all day, and we started early on a cold and frosty morning, when the scaffolding was covered in a thin layer of ice. The original front of the theatre never gets any sun, so this ice stayed all day.
Everyone else was nervously waiting for me to 'volunteer' to be the one who climbed the bare scaffold without boards, because I seemed to be the only member of the team who was not particularly bothered by height, and I was tall enough and strong enough to be able to lift the heavy chain-hoist with one arm (whilst gripping a tube with the other) and clip it onto the scaffold above my head.
On the final and highest lift, I had just gingerly crept my way to the middle of the bare structure with my feet placed sideways on one narrow and slippery tube, when I reached up to steady myself on a short, transverse tube bridging the front and back. As I reached up and grabbed it, it rolled gently away from me and I completely lost balance for a couple of terrifying seconds. Some utter bastard idiot had simply left a loose tube on the scaffold without clipping it, and it almost killed me.
I HATE SCAFFOLDERS - but mainly because they seem to think they can park their bloody lorries anywhere they see fit, even if it does cause a three mile traffic jam for everyone else.
Two days ago, I was at my workshop when a very tall, young man approached me using a pair of crutches. He had - he said - been trying to contact me about some stonework for many months now, but because the approach lane to my place has a single strand of wire across it, he had to turn back, being unable to get beneath or above it. Finally, he had chosen a day when - because I was expecting a delivery - the wire had been taken down.
Eventually, he explained how he had come to be hobbling around on crutches, and it turned out that he was lucky to be alive at all.
I had, in fact, already heard of him because he had made it onto national news by miraculously surviving a fall from four stories of a high building, where he was working as a roofing carpenter.
I think that bouncing off several handrails on the way down had 'helped', but it has left him with 115 steel screws, bio-mesh, bone transplants, etc. etc. holding him together from the waist down, and a two-year recovery period before he can even think about returning to work. His waist size is now 22 inches (he is about six feet six inches tall) because of the amount of bone taken from his already shattered pelvis and stuck onto the femur. He is just about to have the other femur totally replaced.
I am glad I never met him when I was messing about on high places, but then again, he was not born when I gripped onto that loose, icy tube.