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Silent Movie

Silent Movie

Please don't do this, I was thinking but he did.

Today I got nothing done but was kept entertained by the antics here described. Rest assured that this is a completely true story but... no names, no pack drill.

I had plans for my time in lock-down, today. First, breakfast and then the usual ablutions. After some dusting and cleaning, I had decided to sit down and get to grips with some writing but, the best-laid plans and all that...


I was in no hurry. I didn't get up early and ambled slowly through the preparation of the first planned task.


My house is situated at the top of a hillside above a small Yorkshire village and, from the kitchen window, I can see along most of the road right down to the village centre. As I stood and sipped my coffee, I noticed that at the rear of a house a little way down the hill, two men had begun the task of felling a rather large Leylandii tree. There were two, side by side and about forty feet high. So large, in fact, that a considerable portion of the village and the far side of the valley beyond was hidden from view by them.

At last, I thought, I'm getting my view back.

I had seen them, now and then, the previous day, as they removed the lower branches in preparation for the more serious work of cutting them down.

I remembered thinking that they didn't seem very safety conscious, working at the top of an unsecured ladder with a petrol-powered chainsaw. Neither of them wore a hard hat or goggles, not even a harness.


I could now see that the tree consisted of seven trunks, each about twelve to eighteen inches in diameter. As they worked I finished breakfast, washed the dishes and then stared as the first part of the tree came down. By some stroke of good fortune, they had not tethered it to guide it, it fell between the two houses. I shook my head in disbelief and went upstairs to the bathroom to carry out the second part of my plan.


Come lunchtime, four more of the tree's trunks had been bisected leaving five bare stumps about fifteen feet in height. What I saw next had me glued to the window.

Just three weeks ago, I had new glazing units fitted. Because of that and the not so close proximity, the whole thing unfolded in silence.

The owner of the property has a Nissan Navara all-wheel drive pick-up truck which he had reversed to around twenty feet from the base of the tree. He was dragging a large strop towards the stumps.

I felt my jaw drop. No, surely they are not going to... Oh hell, yes they are.

What followed was better than anything Laurel and Hardy could have imagined.

Up the ladder goes the younger of the two men, mid to late forties I estimated, strop over his shoulder. He then proceeds to wrap the thick canvas around not one but all five of the stumps right at the top!

Please don't do this, I was thinking but he did. He went back to the pick-up and hooked the ends of the strop over the towing ball and then climbed in behind the wheel.

Now I was transfixed, rooted to the spot... much like the tree. I couldn't leave now, even if I wanted to.

As I watched, the pick-up moved forwards and... the strop came off the hook.

Well, I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud. Considering the angle of the pull, pushing forty-five degrees, I wondered why he didn't expect that to happen.

The other man, looking as though he was in his early seventies, then went up the ladder and released the strop to fall to the base of the trunks.

Once again, the pick-up tugged for all it was worth but all that happened was that the back end was pulled in line with the strop and four indentations were scrubbed into the gravel upon which it was relying for grip. The tree, as you might expect, didn't even so much as shiver.

Once again. The older man goes up the ladder but this time wraps the strop around the top of just two of the stumps.

Now, considering that all the trunks were joined into one root, I wasn't sure what difference they thought this would make and the tears rolled down my cheeks.

Once secured to the pick-up, and once again at a forty-five-degree pull angle, guess what happened... That's right, the strop came off the hook... again.

Suddenly, I stopped laughing and my heart leapt into my mouth.

Oh my word, no. Don't do that for goodness sake, I thought as the older man went towards the back of the truck. I knew exactly what he was thinking and he did it. He stepped up onto the tow-ball to stop the strop from coming off again.

Now I was no longer amused and watched with bated breath.

The pick-up moved forwards and stopped dead, then again and again and then, with an extra, final effort, it shot forwards and the back end rose suddenly into the air and crashed back down again.

The man on the back was catapulted upwards and flipped forwards, landing head-first in the bed of the truck. All I could see of him were his legs and lower back. He didn't move for what seemed like forever.

I felt so helpless, too far away to be able to do anything and so I was immensely relieved when he wriggled around and dragged himself slowly out.

All I could do was stand and watch, hoping that he wasn't badly hurt. The younger man helped him to a chair and brought him a drink but he was leaning forwards, holding his head.

I was still worried about him. He was way too old to be performing such acrobatics.

Whilst I waited, I noticed that in the back of the pick-up was a basket full of, what looked like, rubble. I hoped to goodness that he hadn't landed on that!

A few minutes later, the two of them disappeared inside the house and I waited, expecting an ambulance to arrive at any moment... It didn't.

Some thirty minutes later, they reappeared, the older with a pad on his forehead held in place with what I first thought was a bandage. It didn't look right and so I went to get my binoculars. I was glad I did because now I could see that the 'bandage' was, in fact, two-inch-wide masking tape wrapped around his head and the same around his right wrist!

Relieved, I allowed myself to chuckle. Unbelievable.

Undeterred, the younger went back to the stump but this time, he had the chainsaw. After several minutes of cutting, the older guy climbed into the truck and pulled. This time they were successful.

I shook my head. Why on earth didn't they do that the first time?


Later in the day, my plans of writing totally up in smoke, the tree was finally removed and I was so glad that I didn't have the misfortune of being a witness to a stupid but accidental death.


In case you are wondering, the masking tape was removed before too long and the only visible injury was a small graze on the old guy's forehead. I bet he doesn't do that again!





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