“An angel!” said Jimmy. “They must be joking. Hardly the kind of art project that would fit in round these parts, is it, Lizzie?”
“I know. Do you remember when they made our Jayden be Gabriel in the nativity? We almost had to drag him down to the school with that white sheet, gauze wings and tinsel halo. Does that Gormley bloke know nothing about our town? A southerner, probably.”
Jimmy imagined how disdainful those miners who had laboured in the dark during the last 200 years would be at the thought of filigree wings fluttering over their pit heap like a pious Tinkerbell.
Four years later, however, the Angel was ready, and it seemed like the whole region had turned out onto Jimmy’s street to welcome it. Still unconvinced, he refused to join them, but couldn’t resist peeping out of his top window as the convoy of vehicles passed by. He had plenty of time to take in the sight of a 48 wheel trailer, filled by just the ridged steel body of the creature.
Curiosity whetted by the gargantuan size, Jimmy couldn’t help himself when he heard the crane was to raise the first 50 ton wing into position, and sidled along to hide at the back of the crowd of watchers. On the day the second wing went up he was at the front of the action, with Jayden in tow.
“That’s some wingspan, boy!” he said. “Must be almost 200 ft. Reminds me of when I worked on those big vessels up the shipyards.”
With time, as the Angel settled into its weathered brown finish, it was as if it had always stood there as guardian and protector of the northern lands. If anyone asked Jimmy how it had been found one day dressed in a replica of United’s black and white football shirt he would simply wink at them.
So, if you are driving north, you’ll not miss the iconic angel standing tall, but if you look carefully you may also see the tiny figure of Jimmy standing under its outstretched wings and waving at you.