Have you ever climbed high up a ladder? Perhaps I should change that question to - Have you ever climbed high up a ladder to do some work? It's not the nicest thing. To be thirty or forty feet above the ground holding a paint pot and a brush or leaning over a gutter to clean out leaves. It can give you the heebie geebies.
When we lived on Leamington Street in the Crookes area of Sheffield, I clubbed together with some young neighbours to buy a pair of extending aluminium ladders. The first job I planned was to paint the pebbledashed rendering on the front of the house. We weren't happy with the original pale pinky colour and decided to turn it a deep brick red.
This was the very first time I ever worked up a ladder and I can tell you that when I reached the guttering to dab away at the rendering beneath I was almost frozen with terror but gradually my confidence grew and before too many days had passed I was scaling those ladders like a seasoned fireman.
Soon after we left Leamington Street, I heard that a fellow who lived round the corner on Warwick Street had fallen from his ladder while painting and was now wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. My own brother - Paul fell about twelve feet from a ladder whilst at work in his mid-fifties and broke his hip. I believe that the complications with blood clots caused by that fall may well have killed him a few years later.
We moved into our current house twenty six years ago - hell, it seems like yesterday! Soon after moving in I opened up the front room fireplace to discover the original 1925 fire behind - still intact! We could have coal and log fires! But one problem. The chimney had been capped.
Instead of paying somebody to do the job, I hired a roof ladder and hoisted it up to the eaves. Then I pushed it on its handy little wheels right over the ridge tiles before somehow clambering over the wooden guttering to get on our roof and up to the chimney. When I think of it now it makes me deduce that I must have been stark raving mad. The neighbours were out watching the daredevil lunatic and I was determined not to have wasted my money on hiring that roof ladder. I took the cap off the chimney and five minutes later I was back at ground level. Job done. Disappointed neighbours retreating indoors.
I was much younger then. In six weeks time I will be an old geezer of sixty two. Maybe I shouldn't be going up ladders any more but at the weekend I was up those same aluminium ladders at our son's house near the Bramall Lane football ground painting the messy cement rendering at the back of the house white. I found myself getting higher and higher till there is now only about a metre more to do under the wooden guttering.
Surely I can do it - just three more rungs up the bouncy ladder but I must have somebody at ground level standing on the bottom rung. Shirley will be at work. Any volunteers? This may be my last post. Gulp!