Yesterday saw chimney sweep Jeff’s annual visit. At 62 and a former Coldstream Guardsman with an army pension, Jeff’s once taught fighting man’s physique had in retirement inflated to that of a leaden balloon, leaving him awkward and wheezing at the least exertion. Say what you like about Dick Van Dyke’s accent, his fancy footwork would have left Jeff asystolic. Still, as Jeff struggled, red-faced to shove brushes up the chimney and displace a year’s worth of our soot he seemed content enough. ‘I can live off the land you know. On camp in Germany I always got in with the waldmeister. Some of the other blokes had no time for them but I always kept them sweet with a bottle of scotch. One old fellow turned up, ‘ankommen’ he says, and in his truck was a wild boar. Me and the lads strung it up in a tree and butchered it there and then. Beautiful it was when we roasted it. The officers’ mess wanted some, we told ’em ‘Get away.’‘ Jeff was in his element recounting stories from three tours of duty, occasionally diluting his stream of North East vernacular by a perfectly enunciated German word or phrase. ‘So are you busy Jeff?’ I enquired. ‘I could work 12 days a week if I wanted, but the wife just says ‘You calm down Jeff!’ And she’s right, I don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery. I do three days now. If I do any more the tax man takes the lot anyhow.’
I paid Jeff £45 for his hour’s work and considered soot removal as a more dependable source of income. I wondered if being an associate chimney sweep would scupper my prospective BGTW membership application?
Have a good week…
Today’s website has to be Dick Van Dyke –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEDLruki33I&NR=1