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The Bricklayer's Lament.

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Listening to Gerard Hoffnung's little ditty the other day reminded me of something that happened years ago in the late 1960's.

I was given the job of wiring a couple of dormer bungalows in the north of the city.

The bungalows were new-builds built into a steep bank.

The banking was dug out and the basement level of garages and utilities were partially underground on a common slab.

On top were built two detached dormer bungalows.

By the side of one plot a public footpath climbed up the bank on steep steps. When the construction got up to roof level the scaffolding and staging around the dormers was reached by a little temporary bridge from the path steps, thus removing the need to climb ladders.

The central heating was by "Electricair" which comprised a single MASSIVE storage heater built into the structure under the stairs.

The warm air was distributed from a plenum chamber under the heater by a large rectangular ducting that ran across the garage ceiling and split into smaller ducting to supply the ground and first floors. This system was being pushed by the YEB at a greatly reduced price on the basis of the ongoing high power consumption giving them a good return. The system had to be installed early in the construction before the floors went in.

One day i noticed the plumber struggling with a large roll of 24 inch wide lead sheet which he was taking up the outside steps to flash the dormers with.

I went on with my work doing the "first-fix" of cabling in the kitchen. Suddenly there was a loud shout from above followed by an almighty crash. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move very rapidly in the corner of the kitchen. I looked but couldn't see anything, then I realised that a second before there had been a small ducting running vertically in the corner. It wasn't there any more.

It seems that the plumber (who'd just returned from the pub) had prepared a length of flashing on the staging above and wanted to put the rest of the roll out of the way.

He managed to lift the roll and putting it through the window he leaned over and carefully judging the position he let the roll fall onto the open joists.

The roll must have weighed the best part of a hundredweight and being dropped a couple of feet it folded into a vee shape and continued it's journey towards the centre of the Earth accelerating at 32 feet per second per second.

It fell though the ground floor joists and hit the large ducting across the garage ceiling slap in the middle.

The joints on each length of ducting were very strong and made like hinges with long pins interlocking the sections. The entire ducting from both floors was stripped out of the building in a fraction of a second. No one was hurt, only the owner, who had to pay more for the replacement ducting than the two installations had originally cost.

We got a new plumber !

The "Master" buider was a short stocky bloke in his fifties who used to disappear up the road every day for an hour at lunch-time. We watched him go to a nearby house and looking around knock at the door.

This went on for about a month until one day a very attractive blonde woman in her thirties came to the site asking for the builder. He was out at the time getting supplies and we asked if we could take a message.

" Will you tell ****** not to come up this lunchtime", she said. "My husband has been taken poorly at work and had to come home". :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

We did debate wether or not to tell him but thought that we had better.

However at lunchtime he still set off up the road and we watched him go to another house across the road.

When he returned an hour later we asked him where he'd been. "She's a much older woman" he said, "but allright as a first reserve". :o

We did think about nominating him for the "Queen's Award for Industry".


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