Slave labour

One of the abiding memories of my childhood is staying in a house like this.


A three storey terraced house in Edinburgh.

Actually our house was a little different because the third storey Dormer window was some 6 – 8 feet removed from the guttering below it. This is an important distinction as will be revealed in due course.

Once in a while the third storey guttering needed cleaned.

My father had two options.

a) Hire a bunch of men with scaffolding/VERY long ladders to do it for him.

b) Hang one’s young son (i.e. me) out of the window by a rope attached to the ankles and get him to attack the leaves/moss etc with a broom handle.

Needless to say my dad was of the option b school.

So, dutifully, I hung out of my bedroom window, head first, 30 feet above the ground below, and carried out my task.

I have to say,  it wasn’t my favourite chore.

So, when we were recently having our house exterior painted by the option a method Tom and I took advantage of the scaffolding to clean the conservatory roof.


Unlike me , Tom took to it with relish as I stood below and , for once, I felt marginally nervous about the possibility of a negative outcome and a thick ear from the current Mrs G.

Thankfully he took to it like a Victorian scally to a chimney pipe and tunelessly whistled his way through the task from start to finish.