Living Between the Lines

The Builder on the Balcony

 “Are you sure he’s not still inside?” All five of us stopped and looked at one another in shocked horror which quickly turned to mirth.

Of course, it wouldn’t be funny if we really had locked the poor builder on the balcony and gone off for the day, would it? Yet, still, rather cruelly, we found the situation amusing.

The potential for a sit-com is never far away from our lives.

Deciding it would not be proper to go any further without checking, I and my four holiday companions, husband, friend, sister and brother in-law, turned back along the harbour towards the house which we had recently rented for the week in the beautiful port of Soller in Majorca.

To explain why we may have shut a builder on our balcony in the first place, entails filling you in a bit on the morning’s activities.

At 7.30am the extremely noisy and dusty renovation work on the house adjacent to ours, began, as it had done every week day since our arrival. We didn’t find out what the other house looks like as the front was swathed in scaffolding and netting – but we heard the builders. In typical, jolly builder style, they laughed and joked and shouted at one another constantly, not that we understood a word. Had they been speaking in Spanish we may have managed to make out the odd syllable but their language was not at all familiar to us. Chinese? Russian? Swahili? It could have been any.

One of the men on the top floor spent half the day calling down to a young boy on the ground floor, in words that sounded suspiciously like,

“***n hell” but I can only assume meant “pass up the bucket” because that is all the poor boy did from morn’ ‘til night – until this morning that is. This morning, my sister-in-law, wanting to sit a while in the sun, had thrown open the doors to the balcony on the second floor, only to find it covered with broken bricks and brick dust. It would appear that the builder responsible had noticed this too and made signs that he would send someone round to clear it up. My sister-in-law had a mind to ask for a hard hat to replace her sun hat but the language barrier prevented her.

Since the only way to the balcony was through the house and up the stairs, we waited for someone to appear. In due course, the bucket boy appeared with a broom at our front door. We motioned towards the stairs from where we assumed he would reach the balcony.,

You can go straight up, the balcony is in the room to the left,” we instructed, helpfully. Evidently not speaking any English, he regarded us with nervous indecision before striding purposefully through the living room and straight out to the garden via the back door.

As we watched, he scrabbled his way up the drainpipe and onto the balcony, broom still clutched tightly in his hand.

That, I am ashamed to say, is the last we saw or even thought of him … until now.

We had been gone for a good half an hour. The balcony was in the full sun. We sent my brother-in-law back inside to check. A short time later he was back.

“No one there,” he reported, locking up and pushing the key into his pocket. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed off for our boat trip round the bay.

Some time later, my sister-in-law asked,

“Did you actually go upstairs and look on the balcony?” My brother-in-law frowned,

“Oh, no, I just looked out of the back door and couldn’t see any sign of him in the garden…”

Too late now, we were half way round the bay. If we had left the bucket boy on the balcony he’d be toast by the time we got back. Of course, common sense told us that if he’d managed to shimmy up the pipe, then he could certainly shimmy down and climb over the back fence – couldn’t he?

Well, whatever became of him, he had definitely gone by the time we got back that evening and at the very least it had given him a few hours off from the dubious task of being ‘bucket boy’ and having, “***in hell!”  yelled at him every five minutes.



I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Katie Gates

    I loved this part, because it amused me so much:

    Some time later, my sister-in-law asked,

    “Did you actually go upstairs and look on the balcony?” My brother-in-law frowned,

    “Oh, no, I just looked out of the back door and couldn’t see any sign of him in the garden…”

    HELLO??? Gender roles!

    For all the times I experience genders in action, somehow they still surprise me. I guess, because I keep hoping. I’m still willing to belive that there’s a man out there who will take that extra step… who will look beyond the garden!

    (Debbie, you’ll appreciate Davy in my novel, as he dispels these unfortunate — and, frankly, well-documented stereotypes!)

  • Deborah Barker

    Looking forward to receiving the novel Kate – should be here in a couple of weeks according to Amazon. I’ll let you know if it appears sooner than that.

    Gender roles indeed! ha ha!

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