A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Crash, Bang, Wallop

 Sometimes accidents are just waiting to happen
I’ve been walking around with a large, tender patch on my forehead for the last few days that, to my utter disgust, has not developed into an equally large and manly bruise.
If it had turned red and purple, like a proper on eshould, then I’d have people sympathising with me and I could say, quietly but with a hint of justified pride: “Yes, but you should see the other guy…”
But now I can’t and, in any case, it wouldn’t be true.
My invisible bruise owes its existence to more of a Charlie Chaplin moment rather than a Mohammed Ali one.
It all started so simply. We’d had a good Monday – productive staff meeting, decent sized 11.15am tour and the promise of more to come. Then, when the weather turned and the supply of visitors did the opposite and dried up, John and I started doing a few of those little jobs that somehow never quite appear on the list of ‘must do’, regardless of how worthy they are.
Now that the masons have finally picked up the last of their clutter and decamped from the Percy Chapel the endless supply of stone dust has stopped and we can begin returning the dirty surfaces to the condition we would prefer.
John has been hopping up and down ladders like a maniac on a trampoline, clutching one of our Henrys in his hot little hand.  I’ve been performing the vital and highly skilled task of putting my weight on the bottom rung to make sure he doesn’t tip over.
However, towards the end of Monday he’d vanished to do some other tasks and so, freed from my obligation to level the ladder, or right the rung (hahahaha) I decided to find something else to occupy my time.
Back in the darkest depths of our storage room were six upright metal poles with large bases. These used to be used to support the boards on which was mounted a large tapestry series about the life of St John.
These boards were strong, the poles were stronger, but the pins that held the boards in place were the weakest link – over 30 years they have gradually succumbed to gravity and random bashings so that only part of the story is currently on display.
Now, after suitable research by members of the church, replacement boards have arrived and so there was no justification for keeping the surplus poles any more.
So I got ready to chuck them out – and like the over-enthusiastic idiot that I am I tried to take all six of them out at once.
As I emerged from the room I put them down, prior to closing the door behind me. As I turned away I saw one of them starting to topple towards the very attractive oak box that holds our altar frontals.
“Oh no,” I thought, with added exclamation marks. “I must not let that falling pole damage our wooden box! I must stop it!!”
And so I put out my foot to arrest its fall. It slammed into the base of the pole and brought it upright again. What a relief
BLAM! WHACK! SOCKO! It sprung back all right – straight into my face. As I reeled back under the shock I knocked the other poles over and, of course, most of them fell loudly onto the very box I’d been trying to protect.
Oh no – it’s a-pole-collapse now (Apocalypse now – geddit?)
One at a time, bang, bang, bang,
Words failed me.
In a rage I grabbed one of the few upstanding poles and swung it violently towards the floor – then sanity returned. The base was heavy enough to make a severe crack in the stone and so I managed to stop the blessed thing just short of impact – momentum nearly ripping my back muscles in half.
Words failed me.
Limping in a mixture of agony and frustration I eventually took the poles out, one at a time, to dispose of them – only to find they were too big for the bins. I grumbled loudly about the entire situation to John, who had chosen that moment to reappear (and I may possibly have grumbled about a few other things as well, going right back to the original days of Adam and Eve) and, basically, I washed my hands of the whole affair. A cold pack on my forehead and a glass of red wine was my only consolation.
I came back to work this morning, bruised in body and spirit, only to find the nasty poles standing proudly in the locker room where I keep my bike – and no sign of John. Frankly I’m worried because I’ll swear they were sneering at me.
I can feel them looking at me now, through two thick stone walls. They’re plotting, I can feel it.
If I don’t post a blog next week you’ll know they’ve got me – unless I a-pole-ogise first of course.
First published April 2010


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