The convenor of the writers group, along with everybody else on her street, had found a hand-lettered circular in her mailbox. A young man called Dean was asking for window cleaning work. As an incentive, he declared that sliding doors would be cleaned free of charge!
The convenor was intrigued by the circular. Obviously Dean had put in a lot of work, writing out so many copies by hand. So as a homework task, we were asked to write Dean's story.
The inspiration for my version of his story lay in the lyrics of a George Formby song. I used the name of the song as the title of my story.
Dean checked the ropes and pulleys carefully. It would never do to let the cradle fall from the top of the tower block. Quite apart from the fact that he'd almost certainly die in the fall, he knew that he would never be able to stand the shame of having his fellow window cleaners tease him about it. When he was satisfied that everything was as it should be, he opened the door that led in to the cradle. "You go first," he said to Christopher, "and make yourself comfortable."
Once Christopher was safely in, Dean climbed after him and fastened the door. He did a final safety check and then he slowly lowered the cradle until it was perfectly positioned for them to start cleaning the windows that circled the top floor of the tower. Christopher squirted solvent on the glass and they both used their squeegees to scrape it off, along with a layer of dirt. Then they rinsed the windows and polished them with a soft cloth.
"So what made you come window cleaning?" Dean asked Christopher. They'd met for the first time this morning when the boss told Dean that today he was paired with the new boy.
"Oh it's just temporary," said Christopher. "I'm doing it as a summer job to earn some money so I can afford to go back to university next year."
Dean nodded. He approved of people who worked in order to pay for their lifestyle. "Here's some advice," he said. "Keep your eyes fixed on the windows. Don't look down. It's scary to see how far you will fall if the ropes on the cradle break. Just concentrate on the glass and you'll be fine." He adjusted the cradle and they moved on to the next set of dirty windows. Following his own advice, Dean kept looking straight in front of himself. There was an office on the other side of the glass and Dean could see a smartly-suited businessman sitting alone at a desk. He was picking his nose. His forefinger was so far up his left nostril that Dean wondered if perhaps it would poke out his eyeball from behind. Dean smiled and pressed his cell phone up against the window. He zoomed in on the businessman's face and took a close-up photograph.
Christopher sniggered while he watched all this. "Hey Dean," he said. "What's the difference between brussels sprouts and snot?"
"I don't know," said Dean.
"You can't persuade children to eat brussels sprouts," said Christopher.
Dean smiled at the joke. He decided that he liked Christopher. "That sort of thing is really common," he said, nodding towards the glass. "It's like we're invisible while we're cleaning the windows. The people in the offices never seem to see us and they just carry on doing the most outrageous things. You wouldn't believe the stuff I've seen."
Eventually the man retrieved his finger from the stygian nasal depths and closely examined the treasure that he'd excavated. Then he stuck his finger in his mouth and sucked enthusiastically. Dean took another photograph. "I wonder who he is," Dean mused. "He must be important because he's got an office to himself. I'll just check the web site of the company that works on this floor..." He poked at his cell phone for a while and then he said. "Paydirt! This guy is the CEO of the company. And look! The moron has put his cell phone number on the web site."
Dean dialled the number and put his phone on speaker so that Christopher could hear everything. The man in the office picked his phone up. "Yes?" he said.
"Look out of the window," said Dean. The man looked and did a double take as he noticed Dean and Christopher for the first time. Dean held the phone up to the window and said, "What's it worth not to post this picture on your company's Facebook page?"
The man walked over to the window and squinted at Dean's phone. His jaw dropped. He turned and ran out of the office.
"What made you take up window cleaning?" asked Christopher.
"It was all my dad's fault," said Dean. "I was fifteen years old and I wanted an Xbox. My dad told me to save up my pocket money and buy one, but I worked out that it would take me three years to save enough money and by then the price would have gone up so I'd have to start saving again! I'd probably never catch up. I pointed this out to dad and he suggested that I do odd jobs to earn more money. So I made up a little advert and I put a copy in everybody's letterbox. It wasn't long before I was cleaning windows up and down the whole street."
Dean's phone rang and when he saw the number that was calling him, he put it on speaker phone again. The man he'd just threatened to blackmail said, "Look up!"
They both looked up. There on the roof was the CEO brandishing a Swiss army knife. "I've jammed a wedge in the pulley so you can't move the cradle," he said. "And now I want you to throw your cell phone out of the cradle. If you don't, I'll cut the rope with the saw blade on my knife. You will fall to your death. Everyone will think the rope frayed on the edge of the building. What a terrible accident. Dear, oh dear. How sad."
Christopher and Dean looked at each other. "I think you'd better do what he wants," said Christopher. Dean shrugged, then he turned and threw the cell phone out of the cradle. It took a long time to fall down to the street where it shattered into a million fragments.
"Ha!" said the CEO triumphantly. He closed his Swiss army knife and put it in his pocket, then he removed the wedge from the pulley and left the roof.
Christopher looked quite shaken. "That was a bit of an over reaction," he said. "Did he really think he'd get away with murder?"
"Probably," said Dean. "He's a CEO. By definition he'll be a bit of a psychopath. I think I really will post the picture on the company's Facebook page."
"But the phone's destroyed," said Christopher. "How will you do that?"
Dean opened his right hand and showed Christopher a small square of plastic and metal. "The man is a CEO," he said, "and again by definition he's almost certainly a technological moron. Clearly he doesn't know much about how cell phones work. I took the SD card out before I threw the phone out of the cradle. The pictures are perfectly safe." He put the card in his pocket just as the CEO came back into his office. The man waved two fingers and grinned triumphantly at them through the window. Dean smiled sweetly and waved back at him. "I'll make him pay for a new cell phone as well," he said. "The most expensive one I can find, of course. Come on, let's go." He started to pull the cradle back up to the roof.
"Did you ever get your Xbox?" asked Christopher.
"Eventually," said Dean," but I never played with it much. I had more important things to do by then."
"Such as?" Christopher was intrigued.
"Doing those jobs was when I first discovered just how invisible window cleaners actually are. I was amazed at what I saw going on behind the windows of so many of the houses in the street. It was very enlightening and I wasn't slow to take advantage of what I found out about my neighbours. You know, it really is incredible just how many times a fifteen year old boy can get his leg over in a single day when he really puts his mind to it."