Jeanne Ellin: Builders’ bums and other challenges

binoculars on white background

Banner with Jeanne Ellin's quote

We are about to become a building site both inside the flats and outside.

binoculars on white backgroundNew windows and doors, replacement storage heaters, hot water boiler and on the outside insulation panels will be fitted. Since we have walls the thickness of my forearm this will involve giant drill bits of great power… noise dust, cold and disruption.

So how can I find a way to get some fun from this?

I decide to use my flat as a hide like a birdwatcher and observe the builders. At 8am I hear young voices and car doors. Looking out I see several slim young men who are pulling on worn track bottoms and setting hard hats over their hoods. This gives them the appearance of ragged knights.

They start to construct the giant Lego that is scaffolding. They are fit and fast, carrying steel rods over one shoulder with unconscious grace. They rapidly set up a two-storey framework then lay planking floors. I see that the rods are different lengths and I think thicknesses. The connectors vary too. So agile of mind and body. And no builders’ bums! All their pants stay where they should. I am often tempted, when following someone wearing their pants gangsta style, to simply haul them up decently. Glimpses of a builder’s bum only inspires the desire to suggest buying a larger size of pants and belt.

I approach the oldest scaffolder and ask about his work. He tells me it is a difficult profession with a high dropout rate. I’m glad there is not a high fall-down rate.

He tells me that it is a mentally cruel profession. Then work calls and I am left wondering…

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Evening. I chat to a young father, he has two sons, age two and five years old. He is securing the ladder against night -time adventurers. I tell him my grandsons call out to scaffolders, “Be careful! Come down!”

He smiles and says this is normal for little mammals as fear of falling is wired in. The trouble starts with young teens he says.

The next day the works are festooned with banners and logos like a knightly tournament and I have a ringside seat.

The next and more intimate phase window and door replacement combined with renewing the storage heaters will be more challenging to enjoy. There must be a way, I just need to find it.

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.