I have been re-reading some stories in Paul Susman’s fantastic book, Death by Spaghetti.

Paul used to write a regular column in the Big Issue, a UK magazine published on behalf of and sold by homeless or vulnerably housed people. Sadly the book is out of print, but if you are lucky you may be able to pick up a used copy in you local friendly bookshop.

What can I say?

In my opinion Paul Sussman is a true visionary, I reckon Death by Spaghetti to be the defining tome when considering urban myth in all its facets…

In the chapter “Stuck”, for instance, Paul shares this occurrence with us:

One of the most frustrating things about being stuck, apart from the fact that it often chafes your skin, is that nine times out of 10 people don’t realize you are stuck, and therefore don’t come to your aid.

Few cases demonstrate this truism more dramatically than that of Mr Gunther Burpus of Bremen, Germany, who remained wedged in his front door cat-flap for two days because passers-by thought he was a piece of installation art. Mr Burpus, 41, was using the flap because he had mislaid his door keys, unfortunately getting stuck halfway through and finding himself quite incapable of going either forwards or back.

At this point he was spotted by a group of passing student pranksters who, despite his vehement protests, removed his trousers and pants, painted his bottom bright blue, jammed a daffodil between his buttocks and erected a sign on his front lawn saying “German Resurgent, an Essay in Street Art. Please give generously.”

Passers-by assumed that Mr Burpus’ protestations and screams were part of the act, and it was only when an old woman complained to the police that he was finally freed. “I kept calling for help,” he explained, “but people just said, “Very good! Very clever!” and threw coins at me.”

(OK, I realize that this story references, once again, body painting as was already the case in a post a couple of days ago when discussing the treemagineers fantastic tree climber kit™. For the record: I do not have an unhealthy fixation with body painting. I do not. Really.)

This in turn reminded me of a story that Dan Kraus told me years ago of some unfortunate soul in the Seattle area who, whilst doing tree work in an ill-fitting harness slipped and fell. The fall flipped him up-side down and caused the harness to slip over his waist, at the same time pulling down his trousers and underpants, leaving him in the rather awkward situation of being suspended, fully exposed, in public and upside down with his harness and his trousers somewhere down by his knees.

You can just picture it…

“Madam, excuse me, do you think you could… no! But, no. Don’t walk away. Ack! Sir, Sir, sorry, do you think you could call… D’uh.. Heeeeelp! Somebody? Anybody?”

In the end someone finally had mercy on him and called the fire brigade who liberated him out of his most awkward predicament.

So the lesson to take away from this post, dear reader, is to adjust your harness properly and to leave cat-flaps to cats.