Working up a scaffold is a pretty liberating experience, particularly if, like me you have been averse to manual work before this point.
So, I’m working with my Dad who is a retired police officer and is now what he calls ‘a gentleman builder’. He loves his job mainly because he is his own boss and also because he spends most of the day outside, surrounded usually by wildlife (the gentleman builder works predominantly in leafy Surrey of course). I, however, wasn’t so sure that I would enjoy being up a scaffold (I am not great with heights, but better since I threw myself out of a plane in New Zealand), scraping and painting the upstairs windows, facia, soffit etc of a large house. However today I realised what he was going on about.
While I was round the opposite side of the house to my Dad I heard what I thought was the sound of an eagle. Now, I’m a bit of a bird watcher and I was pretty definite that there are no eagles living in Reigate so I carried on my wood-staining and thought it must have been a seagull. However, the sound persisted and I was now definitely sure that it wasn’t a seagull as the screech was so much more demure than a cheeky seagull’s filthy caw, so I hurried around to the other side of the house, turned Radio 4 down (naturally, the gentleman builder only listens to Radio 4) and exclaimed, ‘Dad! Can you hear that? It sounds like a bird of prey, like an eagle or something!’ And low and behold, there we saw a large buzzard wheeling and soaring in the sun over Reigate Hill. A special moment as I have only seen them in the midlands while driving between home and university, searching for prey by the side of the motorway.
And that special moment made me realise that this labouring malarky wasn’t all that bad. I’m earning a good wage and my Dad’s my boss so I don’t have to deal with any snidey remarks from power-hungry douche-bags; but I also get to see interesting spiders and watch great tits feeding and bees pollinating and observe different weather patterns moving in over the surrounding countryside.
I don’t want to do this forever, but I can see the appeal, and I’m glad my Dad’s got himself out of the hurly-burly of London and into a job that he really enjoys. And next time I’m unemployed, I’ll definitely be getting myself back up a scaffold, or a ladder or wherever the job dictates me to be……just as long as I don’t have to wield a sledge hammer or dig a massive hole, I’m fine; that side of manual labour is definitely not for this Alfred!