Tonight, with my legs cramping and my hands freezing, I leaned back on the rope. Just before my weight went onto it and it stretched a little under tension, I wondered if I was a candidate for the Darwin Awards.
It all began at break time, with a text message from the lovely Sharon. She informed me that the bracket had arrived. Let me begin to explain. For some time now we have been having problems with our Freesat dish. It has been moving about in any sort of strong breeze and this has meant several visits for me onto the roof, with a brush, to poke it and get it back on track. At the weekend I was on the roof again and the daylight meant I could see the problem; rust. The corrosion had finally got out of hand and the television was lost to us. We could not even revert to the old annalog aerial as we seem to be out of range. This is not much of a problem to me as I have the internerd and box sets of the mindless popcorn that is; human target and burn notice. However, I was informed that for someone on
extended holiday maternity leave, the TV is a vital link to what is happening in the wider world. The new bracket had arrived and the sky was cloudless. This cleared the way for a little DIY if I got home in time before the light began to fade.
I put my climbing harness on and anchored a climbing rope to the garage. The rope went through the front door of the garage and then out the side door. The rope then went in a perfect line to meet the start of the roof and then up and over the other side. I may have put on a pound or two over the Christmas break but I believed it would hold. “Bomber!” as they would say in climbing jargon.
The hardest part was not the drilling of holes and fitting the new bracket. The hardest part was getting the old rust-welded bracket off. A little patience and knuckle blood helped ease it away from the chimney stack.
The light was fading, and I needed a little light to finish the job. It was not essential to see myself work, as I had a head torch. I needed the light for another purpose. I drilled the holes, screwed bolts in and mounted the satellite dish. This was the final critical act. Satellite dishes need to be perfectly aligned to point directly at the correct small window in the sky, and this is where a little homework helps. I had researched it, and found the name of the satellite I wanted to point to. Then I used a website to input my exact latitude and longitude (I knew that GPS would come in handy one day) and got the bearing for the satellite. This is were it gets very geeky: I adjusted for magnetic varience and then plotted where the bearing would point to on the map; the feature on the landscape that hit the ruled line. It cut through a spur with the forest on it, and I took a mental picture of how far along the spur, and forest, it aimed through. I was glad of this nerdy exactness.
The light had nearly gone now. The full moon was out and the stars were splashed all around. As I worked I watched the enchanting morph of dusk’s colour, all cold and deep. I watched the moon move along its invisible rail as it edged through the branches. The light faded to nearly stone black, but there was just enough. Just the edge of dark blue and earth to make out the land. I saw the silhouette of the spur and the forest and I picked my line. I aimed and then called into the radio to the lovely Sharon. “Signal 100%” she radioed back. “Really?” Could geometry and the Ordinance Survey be that good? The lovely Sharon checked the picture on the channels and then re-checked the signal strength reading. It was all good, so I accepted the cold logic of bearings and tightened the bolts. I did not dismount the roof quickly though. Instead, I switched off my head torch and I sat in the cold and dark for a few minutes to absorb the moment and catch a falling star, the type that is rare and moves more slowly across the sky as it burns as a fire ball. Much better than TV.