As a young boy in the 16th century, houses had big chimneys, and once a year the wealthy people who could afford it would have the chimney cleaned. Alan in that life was so small that he was ideal to climb the rope ladder. The chimney sweep would hang over the top of the chimney which would reach the bottom. The young boy sweep would climb up the ladder while at the same time cleaning the inside of the chimney with his brush. It was a filthy job and the boys who worked for the adult chimney sweep owners never got clean. They had soot under the nails and it was embedded into their faces and exposed body parts.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that, since I have known Alan, he has disliked intensely the smell of wood or coal fires burning. I love seeing a real fire, but have had to concede to Alan’s need to replace the open fire with gas. He also washes his hands a lot, almost as if he is craving to get his hands clean. He does not realize how much he does it; one does not when one is living in the past. One cannot see the daily habits which one has accrued for perhaps centuries of time.
On one of his jobs sweeping the chimney, he was hanging on to the rope ladder and cleaning at the same time when his foot slipped and he began to fall. He immediately tried to hang on and grabbed the ladder. As he did so, he pulled all the ligaments in his left arm. I saw that this took ages to heal and he could not work at his chimney job anymore and got a job working in a fruit market carrying produce from the ships which brought it in from overseas. He did not actually carry it, but wheeled it in on a trolley with wheels.