This one was sprung on me a little bit – an email came out of the blue from BAS HQ explaining that I had been booked onto a ‘Mobile Elevated Working Platform’ training course – a cherry-picker to you and me. There was some logic in this, as part of my job down South would be to maintain various antennas, many of which are mounted on top of tall masts.
I turned up on Monday morning and was pleased to find that there were six of us on the course, making the whole experience a bit more sociable. The others were meteorologists and electronics engineers who already knew each other well and proceeded to bicker loudly and good-naturedly with each other for the entire duration.
Ron, our instructor, was a tirelessly patient man who half-heartedly tried to inject some enthusiasm into the theory side of the course. However, with our collective concentration having drifted after only 20 minutes, he threw in the towel and made us sit the theory exam. Despite all of us scoring 20/20, the others sparked up a lively argument about some of the answers which caused Ron to pull me aside and enquire ‘Are they always like this?”. I assured him that, in my limited experience, they always were.
With this milestone out of the way, we were able to get onto the practical side of the course, so headed outside to play with the BAS cherry-picker. Once again, Ron tried to convince us that this was a highly complex and dangerous piece of machinery, and was therefore terribly impressed by how quickly we mastered the up/down controls. Despite some excitingly gusty winds, we spent the remainder of the day yoyoing up and down to examine the BAS guttering, and intermittently peering into first floor windows to provide some entertainment for the occupants.