Heard about the rope tech who wrote a book? … We did.Rope Access USA
KNICKERS, BISCUITS & THE DARK ARTS OF ROPE ACCESS.
We’ve all been there! Sat in a brew hut on a job waiting for the weather to break, telling stories of previous jobs, near misses and describing the unique people we have met while wandering through the hinterland that is the Rope Access industry. It was during one of these periods that I was persuaded by a colleague to write a book about my 12 years on the ropes. At first, I didn’t think it would be worthwhile, surely my stories would be no better than the next person’s. It wasn’t until I reflected on my transition from a postman, climber and mountaineer to a Rope Tech and was swinging 200 meters above the Severn Bridge river crossing with 90 lbs of kit hanging off my waist, struggling to control my stop descender from descending into the abyss, I thought I might be onto something.
From funny to scary, to downright bizarre.
Searching through my logbook stirred memories of other strange stuff and even crazier people. Watching a 750 lbs piece of glass fall 27 floors onto a busy Manchester street and hearing the screams from the public below. Working on a building in Leeds and having my main working line fail, sending me plummeting onto my shunt-backup line and downwards. The very scary time my working line was cut through with a knife by some student who was drunk and high on drugs, while I descended a 330ft building. Of course, there are also lots of voyeurism stories with lots of naked men and women unaware Rope Access Tech’s were that high on buildings and able to see them performing. Less attractive was the shock of watching a guy in an apartment get tied to a chair and beaten to a pulp… by the police in London. While on a job a group of us got held at gunpoint and threatened with baseball bats during an inspection on an apartment….and yes it was in the UK. These stories are endless and create a rollercoaster of a ride that’s hard to get off.
I personally think what makes this book a unique, hilarious and intriguing read is the amount of crazy and funny people I’ve met on my journey within this certain industry. Everyone from Doctors, engineers, a male prostitute, a male seamstress, a female fellow ropey who almost got eaten by cannibals in the jungles of the amazon, an around the world yachtsman, a cross dresser who wanted a sex change, the list goes on and on.
All in all, my journey as a lost soul through the hinterland that is Rope Access has been an exciting one which is why I’ve written this book. I want to give the industry and those who work in it a bit of recognition whether they want it or not. Maybe also lift the lid on “The Dark Arts” that is rope access and share the stories of the very unique people who do it. The same people who sometimes say goodbye to their families on Monday morning and not return for maybe 2 weeks. A life on the road and our lives on the line… literally!
I’ve never always been in love with the job or being self-employed and eventually reached the point where I wanted to leave the industry. My love for this unique lifestyle was re-kindled while writing the book and now realize if you can find the right people to work with it’s not a bad career path to go down although the dark arts is not for everyone. My rope access career has been hilarious, exciting, depressing and full of emotional times that have sculptured who I am now and now you can share these with me.
In the words of a recent reviewer of the book “Finishing this book and forgetting about it is simply not an option” so please enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.
Mike S Martin.
‘Knickers, biscuits & the dark arts of rope access’ is available now from: