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Sticky situations that surveyors get themselves into

Getting locked in a house and stuck on a roof are just a few of the mishaps that have dogged my glittering career

SIMON WHITE, DIRECTOR, LONDON’S CHARTERED SURVEYORS
SIMON WHITE, DIRECTOR, LONDON’S CHARTERED SURVEYORS

Usually the London Evening Standard is a depressing read but last week it gave me a right good chortle with the story about the burglar who got himself stuck in a window for six hours.

There he stayed with his bum pointing north until the emergency services freed him.

I would have left him there and encouraged the local scallywags to throw rotten carrots at him.

Now the time is right for me to come clean because on occasions during my glittering career I too have had some sticky moments – they never involved pilfering but were nevertheless embarrassing.

When I was a kid it was always easier to climb up a tree than to come down one and it’s the same with flat roofs.

I got stuck on a roof in Chiswick and my pathetic efforts to return to terra firma provided a whole hour of harmless entertainment for a bunch of bare-chested Liverpudlian brickies working opposite. Once, when really pressed for time, I left a building survey early. I kept the keys and returned the day after during which I had to answer the call of nature. Of course the vendor chose to return at that moment to what she thought was an empty house.

My advice – always close the door when you are using the loo, particulary someone else’s.

I don’t think that in 30 years of surveying that I have ever locked myself out of a house but I do have a unique claim to fame as I was once locked in.

One Saturday afternoon I got stuck in a lift in an empty building and I thought I was going to die

A hazard of the job is that you have to get into lofts, which on hot days with fibreglass insulation strands in the air is an unpleasant experience.

On this occasion I was in a loft minding my own business while the vendor, who wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box, thinking that I’d left, locked all the doors and went off to work.

This was in the pre-mobile era so all I could do was ring the office using a landline in the house and as you can imagine they were about as sympathetic as Adolf Eichmann.

To make matters worse all the windows were locked and I was kept company by a budgerigar with an Irish accent.

I’ve always harboured a deep mistrust of lifts. I think it stems from a film I once saw which involved a murderous lift attendant who killed his victims between the lingerie and men’s outfitters floors. It wasn’t a classic.

One Saturday afternoon I got stuck in a lift in an empty building and I thought I was going to die.

This is a sad way to go, I remember thinking – either I’ll suffocate or I’ll die of starvation and be found by a cleaner in a month.

Midway through writing out my will the lift, as mysteriously as it had stopped, started up again and I lived to tell the tale – but it was a close call indeed.

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