A mighty wonder, the demolition crane stands, vermilion, against a spring blue sky.
The man in the cab at its axis is a small figure. If the crane were a toy, you would have to get him out of there, to open the little hinged perspex door of the cab, and take him between finger and thumb, plastic and smiling, bent in the middle, his backside flattened to the seat. Then you would probably lose him in the random chaos of the toybox.
But that man up there, tiny and remote, is a figure of power and mystery, a distant godhead enthroned. His face is ineffable, veiled by the glassy darkness of the cab, only his orange hat and scarlet knee-pads are made visible. He has dominion, wields power on many planes.
He reaches out his hand, and swings the crane's great arm wide, over the rooftops, the lead and the slate, over the skylights and wrought iron balconies and belle époque dormers, over the men below labouring with hands and hammers, over the car parks and kerbsides, the weedy grass and waste ground blossoming with beer cans and sweet wrappers, over the plane trees' and sycamores' translucent fluttering, over the black redstart whistling from the chimney pot, over the estate agent, the photocopiers', the school and the clinic and the sex shop, swings it through a wide arc while all the time pulling and lifting its load, with its sharp, hard edges and its terrible gravity.
Slow and measured its shadow passes over us, like an angel of death, leaving us below, miraculously safe and whole, craning our necks, gazing upward in awe and thankfulness.
What a wonder it is, the structure, the mechanism; we may well marvel at its unerring gentleness, at our trust in it, that it holds, sustains, moves with mysterious grace, and at the mercy with which it does not come down in noisy, murderous cataclysm about our heads.
Look at it there, rising, its planes and angles and diagonals, its ascending order of vivid flaming struts and shining bolts against the impossible blue - an oratorio in tempered steel!
1 hour ago