A Chicken, White Tack and a Chimney Sweep

 Raphael Ravenscroft suddenly fires up and fills the speakers of the bedside digital clock. That riff. And what a riff. That infectious sound, a creation of pure genius by the coming together of one of the greatest saxophone players of the modern age and the burgeoning talent of ex busker and Steelers Wheel front man Gerry Rafferty. Eight in the morning and time to get up. Tommy Tucker, as is his usual practice, wakes but does not turn off the alarm. He always, most definitely always, listens to the entire track. Baker Street containing the best example of passionate saxophone playing. Ever.

He bounces out of bed full of beans and into the shower. Then dressed. He wears his normal clothes which considering his natural buoyant exuberance are rather subdued. White T shirt with a motif of guess who, a young Raphael stencilled on the front. Black, white and a shade of grey. Hanging loose over a pair of everyday jeans, faded blue and part covering pale blue sneakers. The mop he calls hair so thick it is virtually impossible to prepare for display to the passing world. His very smiley face full of charm and warm appeal. Breakfast then out to the shops.

It is October and chilly so he wears his bomber jacket. His bouncy, strutting stride gliding him effortlessly over the flagstones of the pavement. The way he moves reminiscent of Tony Manero in that magnificent opening sequence to Saturday Night Fever. Tony Manero, very smart, strutting down the High Street, that little bounce in his step. So cool. Wearing a black leather bomber jacket, red shirt and red shoes. Ogling the girls. The king of the town. Then into the hardware store and reality strikes. Bomber jacket off, light brown grey store coat on and begins the spiel selling the can of paint to the little old lady.

The first thing he buys is a chicken. A fresh chicken. He is meticulous in his choice. Just the right size. The next thing he buys is a packet of white tack. Same as blue tack but white. Then a packet of half inch number ten screws. He takes his purchases home. He cuts the legs off the chicken. Neatly, with a bit of care. Then files the thread almost off four of the screws. Leaving legs behind, he wraps up the chicken and puts it in a polythene bag. The white tack and screws go into his tool box. Then off to work.

Outside he gets into his van, sign written “Bobby Tucker Aerials and TV Repairers”. Off to his first job of the day. A large house with a multi gabled roof. Roof slopes in all directions. In the very centre of the roof is a large tall chimney. Surrounded by roof slopes and valley gutters. Maybe ten feet high off the ridge line. He sets up his ladders and climbs up into a valley gutter running along one side of the chimney. He takes a smaller ladder up into the gully and rests it against the chimney. He can then access the whole of the chimney safely and easily. He erects a new satellite dish in a position that is unobtrusive but will still give a good signal. He climbs to the top of the chimney and inserts the chicken into the metal flue liner inside the chimney pot that serves the main room log burning stove. There is no cowl. The chicken is a loose fit but just right. He uses the wings to provide support hooking them over the edge of the liner so preventing it slipping down the flue.

He takes the cable over the roof slopes and down the outside wall to the rear window of the main sitting room. A white painted wooden window with metal catches. He drills a hole in the window frame to take the cable into the house above and behind the TV unit. This is the preferred cable route suggested by the owner. Fixes it to the satellite box. Job done he packs up and on to the next job.

The next day the owner lights the wood burner stove which of course pours smoke into the room due to the chimney being blocked. He calls the chimney sweep who arrives and sets up. Protects the room with sheeting and pushes his brush up the chimney giving it a big final shove. The chicken flies high up into the air and comes down crashing onto the roof breaking a large patch of roof tiles. Comes to rest in the valley gutter. Job done he packs up and goes back to his job list for the day.

A three weeks later there is a terrific storm. The roof leaks from the broken tiles causing massive damage to the ceiling and walls of the main bedroom. The owner calls the roof tiler who repairs the roof. He then calls the decorator who makes good all the damaged plaster and paintwork.

Four weeks later the owner and his wife get home after a night at the theatre to find they have been burgled. All of his wife’s jewellery has been stolen along with about one thousand pounds in euros that were in his sock draw. The cash had just been withdrawn for a holiday to Italy that had been booked a while ago. Entry was through the rear window to the main room which had been left open. It could not be determined, however, how it had been opened as there was no damage from forced entry.

When Bobby fixed the cable through the window he removed the window handle and stay. He replaced them using the almost filed down screws making a strong enough fixing for general use but slightly weak. He placed white tack between the handle and stay and the frame to prevent the handle and stay wobbling. When he returned the evening of the theatre trip all he had to do was pull sharply on the window and it opened with the handle and stay falling off. As he left he replaced the handle and stay removing the white tack and fixing them with the original screws that he had retained during his first visit.

He knew exactly what to take and when to be there. The decorator had searched the main bedroom. Discovered the jewellery, tickets for Italy and the theatre tickets in the dressing table. It was an easy matter for Bobby to snatch the jewellery and then the cash. He knew where the cash would be because, as any burglar will tell you, men keep valuable things in their sock draws. Usually hidden in some rolled up socks. The money was likely to be there because the Italy trip was arranged for just two days later.

There are four brothers who work extensively around the villages where they live. They are well respected, reliable and will come out at the drop of a hat to help people who have an emergency. This is not cheap. They charge an emergency call out rate. Mostly this is covered by house holder insurance. Their services are very much appreciated. They are continually getting people out of trouble. Are considered heroes for the caring attention they give in times of distress. One is an aerial fitter, one a chimney sweep, one a roofer and one a decorator.

And the chicken. It takes only a few hours for carrion birds to devour the meat from a chicken carcass leaving only a few bones that appear insignificant. At the time of cleaning the chimney it was not known when it would next rain..The chicken would have gone by the time the roof was repaired. The evidence therefore was very neatly destroyed.     


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