Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Little Person Up There In The Crane

Over the past decade I’ve been living around more than my fair share of large construction sites, and I’ve enjoyed their cranes' sudden appearances, their elegant slow movements for a couple of years, and then their equally sudden disappearances as the hoardings come down around the brand spanking new building they helped to construct. The way they hover delicately over the weighty assemblage of static material below them, engaged on tight sites in a slow, precise and controlled choreography in the sky above the building so as to deliver bundles of material without knocking into each other, somehow without being swayed too far by the wind, and without damaging anything, or anyone below. And up there in the little cabs, like the minute brains of a stick insect, are the crane operators, heroic and alone, who I only ever saw as the sites would shut operations for the day, and probably in response to an alarm in their cabs, or a call on the mic, the cranes would come to a halt, frozen in position, and they would all descend simultaneously from their cabs, level by level down ladders on the insides of the cranes’ far too slimly proportioned structure, taking breaks at the same landings on their way down, perhaps as a prescribed precaution, until they disappeared from the view of anyone outside the site’s hoardings, either to have a cup of tea and discuss the day’s more exciting moments, or else to run on home. The first entry on this blog, back in 2008 was a retelling of the impact that the cranes on the site of Renzo’s Central St Giles had on me, on a freezing cold night, together with the sheer battlements of that project’s clustered cores. I'd thought it magnificent, and as his multi-coloured confection opens its doors to its unexciting content, and as its beautiful construction process passes into memory, I have a crane that has appeared, right in front of my bedroom window, in the last week. No soaring beauty to this crane, but I did notice that I can almost make out how the man inside might look, his proportions, and that there isn’t a toilet up there, and the operator doesn’t leave the cab all day. On further research Ive learned that they are either magnanimously handed piss pots by the firm to urinate in, or they have to improvise something along those lines, of the mineral-water screw-top kind id imagine, which they keep with them all day, no doubt handling them carefully as they descend in said orderly fashion as the site closes. The operator facing my room also seems to have a computer up there, and, wondering if there are any forums for discussion and socialising on the net used specifically by the class of 4000 lonely crane operators around the country who could no doubt do with a bit of company (this new crane is the only one on site), I rummaged around and found the trailer of what looks like a beautiful film here, and a discussion forum, from which are some snippets below, direct from those who get to live a distinctly alternative, and fascinating London High Life:

Forum Discussion Started With A Member’s Poem:

never mind the b*ll*cks!!!!!!!!!!

When the jib slews still,
the magic moment arrives,
its free slew button time,
and now for the climb.........down down down wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee away home,
no more b*llocks,
no more lifts,
F*** you and ,
yer horrible concrete.
no more radio babble,
its motoring time,
its 12 hours at least,
before I have to see,
those knobjockeys again,
and they see me,
so give me steak and chips,
ya ba*stards,
and F*** off till tomorrow.

I wrote this little poem for your pleasure or scorn, as you can see its poetical scope is limited,rather akin to a gorilla with Parkinsons trying to play a violin with a hammer. Sorry.

Forum Discussion About Accessing The Net In Crane Cabs:

Writer 1: just wondered who else sits up their crane with the laptop plugged into their mobile surfin the worldwide between lifts??or maybe ya poached your connection from a nearby wireless con.??? 
made a great table to sit the old laptop out of me info screen +operations manual...
Writer 3: was on job in dublin on the quays, was on relief one day, went up tc 2, christ like bloody comet up there.........laptop, digi radio, lcd tele and ps2. I kid you not. 
Writer 4: i worked for elliotss on dublin quay and had my laptop tv radio play station kettle irish broadband and loads of of other s*** pluged into two 4 sockets come out of one lol f*****g best job in the world.
Writer 7: I brought up me mobile DVD player and I could'nt see a fooking thing on the screen with the light in the cab,maybe you'll see a bit if you put a magazine over it but its very uncomfortable,less you put up curtains all round the cab,would'nt say the foreman would think that was suspicious, hehehe,thought it was'nt worth a w*ank,is it not the same for laptops????????
Writer 8: i bought an 8in lcd tv from cost approx £70 with postage. 
its got the 35+ channels from can also use it as a freeview set top box at home (i think) 
its an 8in x4 tech . 
im in london and have been impressed with the quality of the picture from the aerial. 
below is the model spec. 

Forum Discussion About Difficult Cranes:

Writer 1: Anybody hate their crane ??????? ehhhhhhhh?????? anybody like to give it a good kicking?? cant quite figure out the timing ?? horrible slew brake?? cab that shakes to F*** every time you look at the levers ??? small and uncomfortable cabs ??? ehhhh??? anyone like to break off the levers and chew em before hurtling them out the window??
Writer 4: There was a haunted Jaso crane in Dublin that still operates that I for one hold up my hands and say that I still dont know what the F*** was going on there,I could'nt conquer it at all, it was certainly haunted as it had a mind of its own and made the strangest noises ever , not ya run of the mill crane groans but horrible fooking screeching all day, when trolleying back the trolley would suddenly get a massive bump and shake the whole jib like F***,when slewing as I came to the mark it would stop as normal and then suddenly the whole jib would violently shake sending the load beserk making me look like a tw*at driver,I dont know whether it was a violently deranged slew brake with a mind of its own or what and I dont give a F*** either long as I never see that crane again,nice vertical ladder it had up to it too,lovely, I felt numb driving home after driving that bas*tard and had to lie down a horrible horrible cu*nt of a crane,I hope they fooking cut it up with giant skill saws and melt it down into gates or fenceposts or something,anyone else got a crane they hate ??????????????
Writer 13: when it comes to comfort you cant beat a saez insainly small cab, a fixed seat off a site dumper. no form off adjustment so you can have a decent kip oh and the only way to get in the cab is to clime over said seat. and not forgeting dead man on the levers that make your fingers bleed keepin the ba****ds up.apart from that not a bad crane

Forum Discussion About Summer Heat In A Crane:

Writer 1: not looking forward to this summers heat.i hate the heat when you are up crane.winter is the best, you feel cold nock the heat up one in the summer you feel hot you feel like hitting someone .
can anybody tell me why there is no aircon. NO I WILL TELL YOU THEN
i rang my boss two years ago when it was hot 51 degrees in the cab ,site managers told me to come down the crane it was so hot.
my dear boss said its just another reason for drivers to refuse to climb the crane when it stops when you have no heat .which is true because if i had no heat the site has no driver.but come on the summers are getting hotter and iam getting fatter i need cool air ...
anybody else find summer stressfull please tell 
Writer 4: Luckily some cabs heaters can be set to cold, but your dead right there aint nothing worse than sweating like a *astard on a hot Summers day up a cab, even with all the doors and windows open its horrible, except for those celestial moments when a cool breeze blows over the entire cab,like Nigella Lawson just breathed on yer , oooooooooooooooooooo, ,on days like this one feels like a lion after a heavy feed that wants to lie down,its Spring now anyway, wont be long before the sellotape and news papers will be going up on the windows to keep out that sun.
Writer 6: Top tip lads - Get yourselves one of those beaded car seat covers.  Nothing like it for promoting air flow in the crack of doom on those hot summer days 
Writer 9: that hot summer a couple of years ago, the site my bruv was on put a water cooler in his cab!! freezing cold water on tap! bloody brilliant. What is the score with heat?? soon as i am out of juice i am down for a refill or get the good old slinger to bring some up. He gets a shock when he sees me sat in my skiddies looking like a porn star!!
Writer 10: Gives me cause to wonder Merlin what can you imagine would be the most uncomfortable outfit you could wear for a days driving?????????? I think a pair of pinch tight jeans (the type that chokes yer knackers like a python curling around a rat) with a hand knitted heavy jumper with no t-shirt on underneath and marching boots with gimp leather face mask and ear muffs the size of dinner plates, anyone else got anything they can think of, the more ridiculous the more we will respect you.

Are you a narky *astard of a driver ,ready to be a source of abuse and grief at slightest oportunity ? or are you a nice driver willing to help anyone to get through the day easy before you go home ? this special quiz trys to answer these questions, answer A , B or C, collect points and see how you get on at the end.......................... 

Q.1 Whilst walking to the canteen a member of site management innocently cracks a joke about drivers pretending its too windy, do you................ 
(a) Laugh lightly and continue on yer way with yer sensible lunch in yer bag and sit down . 
(b) Firmly but not rudely tell him that the wind speed is obove the recommended limit and your hands are tied on the matter. 
(c) Grab him in a choke hold till his face turns blue, the banksman rushes in and manages to persuade you to stop. 
Q.2 A self erecter driver has inadvertently slewed into yer path dropping off some shutters, do you 
(a) Wait for him to slew outta the way, you drove them before yerself and know that its hard enough driving on the ground sometimes. 
(b) Ask him to slew outta the way as soon as the load is down. 
(c) Scream down the radio to get that fooking pile of sh*ite outta the way quick smart or there'll be trouble. 
Q.3 A scaffolder relizes that he wanted the stillage over another ten metres to the left, do you .............. 
(a) Say no probs into the radio, cheerfully slewing another ten metres left. 
(B) Remark to the banksman that them scaffloders are always changing their minds whilst bringing it over. 
(c)Slam it down on the slab where it is shrieking like a maniac for them all to F*** off. 
Q.4 A load of Romanians are doing the pour on the concrete, they want you to follow them around so that they dont have to rake it all over the place , do you................. 
(A) Diligently jab the levers ,controlling the skip smoothly travelling where they need the concrete. 
(B) Wave yer hand to them saying yes but mutter under yer breath that they are letting the concrete out too fast and to give yer a chance to adjust. 
(c) F*** THEM !!! 
Q.5 Its starting to get a liitle windy but not too serious, do you.............. 
(a) Keep an eye on the windclock and be extra cautios in case someone hurts themselves. 
(b) Tell the banksman that its getting a little windy,we can keep working but no shutters you are both in agreement. 
(c) Block up, radio off , you use this opportunity to ring up yer Missus and tell her you fooking hate her or get stuck into yer porn. 
Q.6 The foreman who is actually a sound head and well liked by the crane staff walks into the craneys hut on the break, do you............... 
(a) Shout alright mate with all the other lads and ask him does he want a cuppa as their is still twenty minutes left. 
(b) Give a reserved hello and be friendly watching what yer say though ,as he is management and you have to watch what yer say. 
(c) Stare at him when he says hello saying nothing with a look that would give Charles Manson the creeps. 
Q.6 A fumbling but friendly safety officer calls a toolbox talk for the craneys and banksmen, do you................ 
(a) Sit there with the rest of the lads outlining safety concerms that you feel need to be addressed, but listening to everyones point of view aswell. 
(b) Sit there and laugh at the corny jokes it'll all be over in a while, you've been driving twenty years and know bettre than most. 
(c) Sit there fuming for no particular reason suddenly bursting out with an unintelligible rant about how the brickies are all *unts and noone understands F*** all in this kip, kick over a couple of chairs on the way out. 
Q.7 Another craney comes over the radio asking you to slew left please as he just wants to get a couple of blocks in, you havent even got a load on yer ropes and have'nt done a lift in hours, do you............. 
(a) Say no probs mate slewing outta the way in moments giving each other a friendly wave as yer do so, 
(b) As obove. 
(c) Shout "listen yer *unt, I'm the Daddy on this site , the big crane does'nt have to give way so BO*LLOCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Q.8 The banksman makes a small series of mistakes during work, he is not at it too long and apoligizes, do you.............. 
(a) Remember when you were banking and the mistakes you made and carry on regardless. 
(b) Your a bit annoyed but as we've said yer know better, yer driving twenty years for Petes sake. 
(c) Yer up in Wormwood Scrubs prision, the judge gave you a whole life tariff over what yer did, (gulp) 
Q.9 Whilst walking to the canteen a harmless but annoying brickie makes a silly comment about not getting his lifts, do you............... 
(a) Say "sorry mate, but we really are quite busy, but I shall do my best for you after the break,cheerio". 
(b) Inform him that the crane is busy and if he has a problem to address it to the crane co ordinater, yer not being smart with him yer just telling him whats going on. 
(c) Use yer army training to trip him up and jump on top of him brandishing a bowie knife up to his throat gibbering incoherently that yer gonna cut his fooking gizzard out, a banksman starts pleading "no mate , leave it, its twenty fooking yers mate, for fooks sake calm down man". 
Q.10 Yer walk into the pub across the road on Friday evening where all the drivers and banksmen are, do you.................. 
(a) Shout hello and pull out yer money buying around for everyone quicksmart. 
(b) Just sit down with yer cash and buy a round for the banksmen that you know yerself. 
(c) Pull yer wages outta yer pocket and sniff the fresh crisp notes as if it were Nigella Lawsons's scants before ordering two pints, one for yerself and one for ermmmmmm yerself before sitting down and getting drunk pi*ssing everyone else off with yer rude banter. 
If most of yer answers were A or B yer a sound head who likes an easy life with no probs,yer there to earn a living and no more...................... 

If yers answer were mostly C , yer a belligerent *astard who gives noone a chance,yer only happy when yer being a *unt, anything sets you off, its like driving a lorry load of nitro gylicerine around a stock car track on a good Saturday, CHILL OUT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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