Fire-fighters are the Big Daft Lads of the emergency services, equipped only with a desire to die a horrible burning death they happily stroll into burning collapsing buildings armed with only a hosepipe on a daily basis, being daft is the only qualification required.
And so, a couple of stories in support of the theory…
When I lived in the far north of the country where people speak with a strange accent and life seems to lag ten years behind the rest of civilisation there still existed some sort of community spirit, everyone frequented social clubs, they all knew their local policeman and the local fire fighters, and everyone supported the annual Primary School Fete, in fact it was a major social event, new handkerchiefs were ironed especially for the grand occasion.
So there we were all gathered at the local Junior School, a small Victorian building, single storey with one of those high pitched roofs to match the church next door, a stereotypical village school with a hard playground to the front and a playing field around the back, and it was on the playing field around the back that the most important event of the afternoon was taking place – the Marching Kazoo Band Competition.
I’d never seen a Marching Kazoo Band until I arrived in the North East but when I did arrive there I found they were like fleas on a dogs back, every village had one, girls and some potentially gay boys dressed in jaunty flamboyant drum majorette uniforms marching back and forth playing that most annoying of instruments that takes absolutely no skill whatsoever to play – the Kazoo, the only requirement for the playing thereof being to hum loudly through tissue paper.
And the fire brigade turned up, parked their big shiny fire engine in the playground to the front of the school and let young children clamber all over it, trying on helmets and wielding chopping axes while other small children constantly pressed the button that made the sirens go, slightly spoiling the Marching Kazoo Band Competition in the field on the other side of the school building.
And it wasn’t too long before some kids spotted the hosepipes on the fire engine, “oooh look, hosepipes” they must have said, “Ah yes children” said a fire fighter, big and daft in his uniform he will have been, “those are the hosepipes” he will have confirmed, his knowledge now extremely exhausted.
The hosepipes were unrolled from the engine and the big and daft fire fighters explained to the gathered young children how a hosepipe works, the children already knew of course but to the fire fighters it was all still very exciting and they couldn’t resist themselves, they plugged the hoses into the fire engine pump determined to demonstrate to the children how hosepipes work – and someone switched on the pump and a fine spray of water gushed forth followed by a much fiercer spray, and then a veritable Niagara volume of water erupted from the hose, a tall plume of spraying water pointed at the school house and everyone cheered “Hooray!”
The fire fighters cheered too, “Hooray!” they all called as they all struggled to control the rampant hose which by now was playing its maelstrom of wetness onto the school roof, “Higher!” called the children, “Yes, higher!” called the fire fighters who were enjoying this far more than the children and the water jet soared high above the roof of the school and in an arc the size of a rainbow disappeared into the playing field beyond.
Had the children in the playground not been cheering so loud and urging the fire fighters to point the flume higher and higher, had the fire fighters themselves not been cheering along too, then they may have heard the screams and cries of dismay from the playing field around the back of the school, had they been able to see right through the school building they may have noticed their jet of water playing merry hell and havoc with one of the Marching Kazoo Bands who had been in mid-marching performance when the powerful jet hit them, knocking ceremonial soldiers hats and kazoo’s awry and causing the hundreds of spectators to flee for their lives.
Within seconds there arrived in the front playground a huge stampede of soaked, angry parents all determined to discover the source of their wetness, assuming at first that it would be a few naughty kids and an errant hosepipe, then hardly believing their eyes to find a huge red fire engine there and eight cheering fire fighters all pointing their hosepipe over the top of the school roof being cheered along by a crowd of dry parents and children.
The two groups stopped dead in their tracks, the very wet parents glaring in disbelief, the very dry parents staring back in wonderment at where these wet people had appeared from and how localised a sudden cloud burst could be, the fire fighters simply continued spraying the field beyond the school, cheering themselves along still.
I didn’t stop laughing for weeks.
Tomorrow – the day the fire fighters came to Steve Burts school