An unexpectedly daredevil morning. The roofer came round to have a proper check out of what work was required now we have the scaffolding up. He asked me if I wanted to come up with him and have a look.
I am very bad with heights and in the past have been afraid of the most minor of things. In my early twenties I was once terrified of going over a plank laid over the tiniest stream you have ever seen. I couldn’t have imagined that I would be prepared to climb a rickety unsecured ladder and go up on to the top of my house.
But I guess I was both curious to have a look and also didn’t want to look like a chicken in front of this cool man whose job is to hang off the top of buildings (I also really liked him) so I said I’d give it a go.
I went up one ladder to the first floor scaffolding. My only fear was that I wasn’t going to be able to work out how to get off the ladder and on to the scaffolding, but I scrambled up. Then we went up another secured and less scary ladder to the roof.
And then had to make a slighter scarier manoeuvre to jump across from one side of the roof to the other.
And then up a scarier ladder to one of our chimney stacks.
The man laughed at my nervousness a bit, but about five minutes in told me that it was very rare for people to agree to come up with him. He was maybe playing with me a bit and testing my mettle, but I was glad he did. It was not only exhilarating to find out that I was brave enough to do this, but fascinating to be taken through the history of our roof by a professional. Plus we got a cracking view of the village. He suspected that some of the tiles were original or at least a couple of hundred years old, but was able to identify when repairs had been made and be critical of the way that those repairs had been carried out. Some tiles were held on with wooden pegs, then newer ones with nails (though they’d only been single nailed (and the nail only served as a prong to latch on to the wood. He showed me the weather damage and how some tiles needed replacing now, whilst others might last for longer and we saw the various bits of pointing work down the ages and how some of it had been done well and some of it was basically sand.
On the other side of the house he needed a double ladder to get up to the bigger chimney and I thought that there was no way I was ever going up that. But the fact that I hadn’t yet fallen off the building gave me the bravery to give it a crack. He told me that many people thought they could do his job, but only lasted a couple of weeks, because they couldn’t hack the heights. He also pointed out how going up and down these ladders all day kept him fit and thin and I asked him if I could become his apprentice until I had shifted my weight. Maybe that’s how I should spend my summer. His bravery and agility and knowledge were impressive and he was a really nice guy too. He had to have the nuttiness of a scaffolder, but also the heart of a poet and the hands of a craftsman.
He guessed that the surveyor’s report must have been as long as your arm and questioned whether that had put me off buying the house. But it didn’t. I like the fact that part of my job as the temporary owner of this 300 year old building is to keep it in a fit state for whoever lives here next. He told me that most people don’t bother with the upkeep of their roofs and only come to repair them when something goes wrong. But his assessment seemed honest and he let me know what I could get away with in the short term and what I might need to do in the future.
What a fun hour it was. Perhaps I enjoyed the surreality of being on the house instead of in it. But I mainly couldn’t believe that I had had the balls to get up here, given my extreme timidity in the past.
Of course being blasé on roofs has seen off at least one entertainer, but I survived to joke another night. Herring 1 Hull 0. My only regret was that my phone had been sitting on my bedside table charging all this time, so I had no proof of my heroism.
I'll take some pictures after I've shifted careers.
What the Hell is going on? The fourth woman in a row on RHLSTP?