Thursday, 14 March 2013

the Fairbairn steam crane

I've seen the Fairbairn steam crane just along the dockside from M Shed running a couple of times over the years at the Bristol Harbour Festival, and it is truly an awesome sight (awesome as in full of awe).  The volunteers obviously delight in sharing their expertise, and the heat ~ it's all encompassing, as though you're inside the oven of the Hansel and Gretal witch, surrounded by flames licking their way closer to you every second.  Even declining to enter is no defence, as you can feel the heat when you're still stood on the concrete outside.
But somehow, even less the buzzing crowds and loud music, when it's standing still in the rain, it seems ... real ... almost alive, as though you just happen to have caught it in a brief unguarded moment of peace. 
Calm and measured as a sleeping dragon, tethered by day into submission by rugged hard~working men in oil~stained overalls, strong coarse hands coated with dust and grime, ground so deeply into every crevice, every callous, every cut, so as to never fly freely again.
Movement powered by some eternal fury; glowing red furnace breathing out blistering heat as men seek to harness the strength of the dragon to do their bidding, cajoling the sharp edged beast to stretch and twist and dip and turn.
Sinew and bone, merged and melded into rails and bolts, rivets and wheels, with serpentine shadows of rust travelling slowly, so slowly, inch by inch, slowly, so slowly, taking hold wherever a flake of paint gives leave. 

Panes crack, sending twisted metallic ribbons across the clouded glass, lit up in the sunshine like a spider web studded with morning dew.
Time passes, like delicate water nymphs flowing over stones in a cool stream, wearing away the crisp edges and the sharp corners, carrying resentment and anger and frustration far far away, leaving in their wake a sense of contentment and satisfaction, of finally reaching the end, and now ... to rest ... to be calm ... to be.

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