One of the guys, Richard, seemed to provide the bulk of this entertainment. He was a mid-twenties Cockney guy who seemed to constantly challenge his environment on every possible level. Everything was a Federal Case to him.
One Saturday morning, coming up to tea-break. Richard announced he was going out to the shop for some apples. Apples were a significant departure from the stodge we normally shoved down our necks but, Richard being Richard, nobody questioned his decision.
"The front door is locked," said Denis, the foreman, "so buzz the intercom when you want to come back in."
"Oh and Richard," said Denis, "don’t piss around, get right back here or we may fall out."
You didn’t want to fall out with Denis. His type of fall out was more of the nuclear kind than the emotional.
Richard left and we all sat down for tea on the floor of the big office with the windows open onto the street six stories below.
Our conversation covered all kinds of topics over the next fifteen minutes, including The Arsenal’s chances of a draw in the afternoon and the likelihood of Rambo having a positive impact on the worsening situation if he were to be parachuted into Deepest Iraq.
After a while, all topics were exhausted and we sat quietly with our thoughts and our tea. Denis suddenly looked around angrily.
"Where the hell is Richard?"
He didn’t actually use the word ‘Hell’.
That fall out was coming…
Richard was, in fact, down on the street, six storeys below, looking up at our open windows so far above.
The electricians had disconnected the door entry intercom for reasons known only to themselves. Richard could buzz that button all day if he wanted, nobody on the sixth floor was ever going to hear.
He wasn’t getting back in.
Richard soon realised that the intercom was a futile exercise. He paced up and down the street, glaring up at the windows, wondering how on earth he could get back in. The phones were all disconnected up there and the only mobile phones in those day were the same size as a concrete block and were not generally owned by angry foremen.
He tried shouting.
"Hey!", he roared, "Hey!"
Back up on the sixth floor a colossal wave of post-prandial torpor had set in. We all lounged around dreading the call back to work.
A discordant tone drifted in the window.
"Did you hear something outside?" Someone asked.
"No," someone else replied, "it was the radio, now shut up."
Back at ground level, Richard threw his hands up in exasperation. Then he remembered the paper bag in his hand.
A wild idea formed in his fevered mind. If he could take an apple, a single apple, and throw it though that sixth floor window then his cohort within would be alerted to his situation and would get up off their arses and let him bloody in.
But the window was six storeys high. It was a long way up. A legendary effort would be required on his part.
An impossible throw.
Denis stretched and raised himself off the floor. It was our signal, the call to action. He hardly needed to speak but he did anyway.
"Come on men," he said, "one more time before the weekend."
Just as we were getting up, something strange happened.
A bright red apple sailed in the window and landed on the floor.
Richard stared up in disbelief, arm still extended. He had done it, he had accomplished the seemingly impossible feat. Songs would be written about this, stories would be told. He did a little impromptu dance on the street, then looked up and waited.
The apple bounced impressively, rolled across the floor and stopped at the toe of Denis’ boot.
"Where the hell did that come from?" somebody asked.
Denis thought about this for a long moment.
"Who the hell cares?" he said, "Let’s get back to work."
* * * *
I did a follow-up to this post which you can have a look at here if you like.