Fred didn't actually blow chimneys up. He decided which way he wanted them to fall and then started chipping the bricks away at the bottom in the area facing the drop zone. He was careful only to chip a couple away mind, and then stuff the hole with wooden props which took the weight. It took him the best part of the day to do this until he'd replaced a section about six foot high, and about a quarter of the circumference of the chimney with wood. Meanwhile every scrawny kid for miles around would hear about him being there and turn up offering to help. He'd send them out scouring the neighbourhood for old tires, tea chests, pallets, anything that would burn in fact, and they'd happily do it and leave them in a pile. Then when old Fred had finished the kids would crowd around and stack the bonfire against the wooden props he'd hammered into place. Then they'd all be cleared behind a tape the Police set up obligingly, but the kids that helped always got the best seats.
Fred would then light the fire, and his pipe, and smoke a bowlful or two while things got hot. After about twenty minutes or so he'd show interest again and wander up to the chimney, but round the back this time. What he was looking at was the courses between the bricks on that side. When the wood was starting to burn through, cracks would appear meaning it was about to go. He'd then sound this unearthly horn and run like billy-oh, often cutting it pretty fine, as when those chimneys go they break up and often the top would fall the wrong way and clatter down around his ears. The bulk of the thing always seemed to go the right way though and Fred would emerge with a big grin on his face covered in dust to the applause of the kids. He would remark sardonically to the camera that dashed up to him at that point "Did you like that?"
He had a set of Fireman's spanners for hydrants because of his traction engine which he'd chug from fair to fair in the summer pinching water from hydrants as he went. Something of a character even though he dumped his wife for one girl in the later years, and then her for another. Good work if you can get it.
Fred died a few days ago, and England lost another character. Still if they've got any chimneys need knocking down upstairs, Fred'll sort 'em.
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