Author Topic: A bricklayer's tale  (Read 2091 times)


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A bricklayer's tale
« on: January 14, 2010, 07:37:29 AM »
I am a little disappointed at the posts in this section so far. There is nothing like a good old belly laugh to release tension and set the world to right.

So here is something to get you going - an example of the British habit of understatement:

Found at -

This is a bricklayer's accident report that was printed in the newsletter of the English equivalent of the Workers' Compensation Board.  So here, thanks to John Sedgwick is this Bricklayer's report.


Dear Sir:

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form.  I put "Poor Planning" as the cause of my accident.  You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade.  On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-storey building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it.  Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks.  You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 lbs.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.  Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence.  Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground-and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs.

I refer you again to my weight.  As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up.  This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly.  The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope....
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 04:13:43 PM by Graham »


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Re: A bricklayer's tale
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2010, 11:23:24 AM »
This is very British. Quite different from Asian style.
I think I understand it should be funny for British people, but it did not make me laugh.

When I was in England, a Japanese man told a joke to Enlishmen.
 Listening to the joke, I laughed. I thought it was funny.
But no Englishmen around him laughed. They didn't get the joke. They did not think it was funny.

Different culture, different humour.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2010, 11:39:53 AM by Akira »


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Re: A bricklayer's tale
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 07:21:59 PM »
Hi Akira,

It is not the story, but the way it is told that is at the root of British humour.

Clearly the incident itself was horrific, but the writer has deliberately composed it with typical British understatement to make it humourous. It is our habit to make our disasters and mistakes appear funny.