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The Misfit

July 24, 2022

Hi folks,

Having survived the recent extreme heat here in Wales (37.1°C on Monday 18th July, the highest temperature ever recorded in the Principality), we’re having a gorgeously warm (but not too warm!) Sunday morning on Halkyn Mountain. And I can’t resist posting my haibun ‘The Misfit’, which tells a true story from my early working life as a 15 your old apprentice electrician back in 1962. 

It was published in the December 2021 issue of failed haiku: A Journal of English Senryu (Guest Editor: Roberta Beary).

Have a great Sunday everyone, and take care.

Paul

***

The Misfit

Word had got round of course.  The new apprentice was a boss’s son.  And it showed. A tall skinny kid, fresh out of school, he was posh, polite and probably useless.

The year was ’62 and I was that apprentice.  Joe was tasked with nursemaiding me.

The job was a rewire, the premises a Victorian church in a small Cheshire village.  We were a team of five, Joe the gaffer.

With the guys hard at it, echoey din deafening, I helped all I could but mostly got in the way.  At least I made a decent brew at break times.

On the third afternoon, Joe and Jim were putting up the triple-extension ladder.  An old lantern suspended from the ceiling had to come down.  But the top of the ladder missed its intended perch at the apex and crashed down over the pews.  A stunned silence followed.  Miraculously no one was hurt.

They raised the ladder again and found the apex this time.

Right, who was going to go up?

Silence.  The senior apprentices shook their heads.  Then I stepped forwards.

Joe said “No!” but I began to climb.

I regretted my decision halfway up as the flexing of the ladder reduced its hold at the apex.  The higher I climbed though, the less the flexing.

Reaching the top, I found the lantern behind my neck.  So raising my right knee, I hooked my leg through the rung and leaned back, screwdriver in hand.

Head hanging over the nave 30 feet below, I discovered faith.

Minutes later, down again, I gave the lantern to Joe.

He clapped a warm hand on my shoulder.  There was no need for words.

stained glass –

the strobe lights

we dance to

Paul Beech

.

Copyright © Paul Beech 2022

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10 Comments
  1. clivebennett796 permalink

    Love this one Paul. ‘Bin there done that – an old Victorian finishing school for girls, in Bath in ‘72. I seem to remember we had three lots of extending ladders roped together! Here’s a pic …

    My apologies also for not commenting on previous posts – life got in the way a bit!

    • Many thanks, Clive.

      Writing ‘The Misfit’, I was concerned only with telling the story as truthfully and accurately as possible. But when I read it at a recent Chester Poets’ meeting, they found great humour in it, especially those moments of my greatest peril. Nice!

      As for your pic, thanks again, Clive. The Victorian girls’ finishing school looks most imposing with that very tall tower. And if you climbed to the top of it on those three roped-together extension ladders… I guess you were as mad as me!

      Best always,

      Paul

      • clivebennett796 permalink

        Yep! Mad as a Hatter. Mind you I’m now scared of heights 🤣🤣🤣.

      • And 60 years on from my escapade in the church, you wouldn’t get me up a triple-extension ladder again for love nor money!

  2. Bloomin well done mate!

    • Cheers Mate!

      Actually, John, after I’d passed the old lantern to Joe, our boss emerged from the vestry, where he’d witnessed the whole drama. He wasn’t too chuffed with the senior apprentices but praised me as “the crème de la crème”.

      Can’t say it did much for my popularity!

      Best,

      Paul

      • Maybe not, but there was Respec’ (as they say now)!

      • Some respec’ maybe, but never friendship. Who needed them though? I was a high spirited lad and would find my own way…

        Paul

  3. Great story Paul! And an even better verse.

    • Dear Cheeseseller’s Wife,

      I’m delighted you enjoyed my haibun, especially the senryu concluding the composition.

      Gosh, my blood runs cold now when I think how my 15 year old self hung backwards over that 30 foot drop!

      Many thanks for your lovely comment and take care,

      Paul

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