Where's your rope ladder? Something to consider in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tradegy.
I didn't see the Grenfell Tower go on fire; I smelt it. I live a relatively short distance from there and the morning after the inferno raged I was out for my early walk when I was met with wafts of smoky air which were just too fetid and too thick to be usual, even if it has been a hideously hot summer.
Since then my mind has been turning over and over a piece of advice that an older chap took trouble to give me some years back. He was quite a brilliant wordsmith who was occasionally mentioned in the 3rd person by The Times Literary Supplement, we sold something together and he let me have all the profits for the care of a homeless pregnant young woman. So all in all he was a good egg.
One day I was having a tot of sherry with him and he asked me, "Mary, do you have a rope ladder?"
"A rope ladder? Hello? No, I'm not an army recruit!"
"I'm serious," he replied, "you should get a rope ladder. You might wake up some night and that crumbly Victorian building you live in is going up in smoke. If you are trapped in your room with flames kept at bay for a time by your closed bedroom door, you can still escape from the window if you have a rope ladder.""Yeah, but I mean what if I use the rope ladder and fall off it or it comes tumbling down after me and I end up like Humpty Dumpty?"
"Still a better chance of surviving than being burned alive."
"But what if I just fall off the ladder?"
"No, you won't. Tie the ladder to your bed, grasp it for dear life and let adrenaline do the rest."
"Ah, adrenaline the fight or flight hormone"
"Oh, and another thing, make sure the ladder is the length of the building or all the kings horses and all the kings men will not be able to put you together again!"
But in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, I'm wondering how many lives could have been saved had some of the inhabitants had rope ladders made from fire-proof fibres as emergency exits, especially before the flames started licking the building...
I'm even thinking writing to the Council here in the Borough suggesting a movement to suggest to residents to keep rope ladders. The sage's advice, "adrenaline will do the rest" rings in my ears as I type this. I have been making a pest of myself in the local hardware shops, asking the leathery women with crew cuts who work there, "do you sell rope ladders?" They in turn ask, "rope ladders? For a tree house? We don't have 'em..." You can order them off the internet and I might enlist the help of my friend super shopper Sonia to help me source a good one.
During one of our treks in the park this summer I became like a three-year old on Red Bull, high on the summer air and jumping for joy. Had King Albert known the shenanigans types like me would get up to in front of his monument...