A parable for stupid senior citizens .
On two occasions women doctors have firmly told me that men over 60 should not ascend ladders , clamber onto roofs , climb trees . Both said emergency wards of hospitals were filled with men PM Bob Hawke would have described as silly old buggers. When I described one of my symptoms as light headedness at times when firmly on the ground , sitting in front of the idiot box, a doctor , 10 years ago, rolled her eyes ,when I said I had been up on the roof cleaning out the gutters, sweeping , taking photographs .
Since then , I must admit , I have climbed to great (dangerous ) heights , as it were , in Darwin and North Queensland, and I am past three score and 10 . In my latest alpine adventure , just before Christmas, I felt certain that one of the pesky possums had jammed itself in the guttering downpipe. While borrowing the neighbour’s ladder , a woman said a possum had died in her downpipe years ago and stank to the high heavens .
Not wanting Santa to be put off by such a stench , I decided to ignore medical advice and clamber up into the gods. Before lift off, I psyched myself to be ultra careful and tackle the task scientifically. Importantly, I told myself to only walk on the iron sheets over the verandah , not the brittle plastic ones. A broom , bucket and secateurs were put up on the roof , ready for action .
Then I buckled on a pair of sandals the German wildlife carer known as the Queen of the Jungle had given me to wear about the garden . She had hardly worn them and they had been in a shed for years . No sign of a jammed possum was found ; the gutters were cleared out ; fallen nuts swept off with gusto. Then decided to cut back as many palm fronds near the roof as possible in what proved to be a vain bid to stop the possums from their noisy , nightly jaunts .
Had to lean out to reach and wrestle with some fronds- but did not plummet to earth. Finished, paused to admire the view , walked back across the roof to the back verandah and decided to make one more check to see that a skinny possum was not jammed in the elbow. Put foot on a plastic sheet- crunch- flung myself forward onto metal sheeting to prevent falling through. Okay . Check again that there is no possum , then climb down ladder. Walk down the side of the house , and sandals felt strange ... soles had become detached and were hanging by the ankle straps only . Had this happened while leaning out over the roof , Houston , the Eagle could have landed in spectacular fashion .