Monday, November 27, 2006

Eye in the Sky

Another snap from my short trip to London.
Maybe I should explain that the reason I only have pictures of the London Eye and not from it is that I am more than a little bit nervous about heights.
It's one of those irrational fears that sometimes creeps up on you from behind, just when you think you had it beat.
Given this particular phobia which I've had since early childhood, it may be surprising to some people that I once got a job in a roofing company. It's true though. (I was a student and needed the money and it was the only work I could get one summer.)
I have to confess that in a number of respects it was a thoroughly educational experience for someone training to become a minister. When I started the job I was more or less terrified of any height above my own head, but it's amazing what you learn to cope with when necessary, and after a few weeks I was clambering up roof flashings 50 feet off the ground and walking on slate roofs 100 feet up (...sorry I still think in the old measurements - you can do the conversions yourself...) without any form of safety harness, or rail to prevent us slipping off and turning to mince on the pavement.
I don't know if the Health & Safety Executive had not yet come into being but I do know that there was precious little concern for our safety and I wasn't convinced the job was good for my health.
Anyway it all came to a head (wall-head that is) one day when I was almost at the top of a ladder that was leaning against the wall of a factory, whose roof we were allegedly repairing. The main problem was that the length of the ladder was a little bit less than the height of the wall. (About 30 feet.) It meant that to get on to the roof you had to stand on the second top rung of the ladder, grab the wall head flashing, and pull yourself up. A fairly risky business at the best of times.
On this particular occasion, the foreman, a rather cocky Glaswegian with a slightly warped sense of humour, was holding the ladder for me. Just as I had arrived at the second top rung and was reaching out to grab hold of the wall-head, the foreman suddenly pulled the ladder away from the wall and began shaking it backwards and forwards while I clung on like a performing monkey. Clearly my performance was bringing some joy and entertainment to my supposed protector below as he was bellowing with laughter. Then he shouted up some words that I doubt I will ever forget: "All right then, Reverend, let's hear ye sayin' yer ******* prayers noo...!"
He didn't hear me saying them... but that doesn't mean that they weren't being said!

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