“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.

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    2 years ago

    An imaginative, personal background story of the construction of the Angel of the North sculpture. A tribute to an important object of public art and the people who at last embraced it. 

    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    2 years ago

    I love the way that you have put the history behind the Angel of the North into a story. I also enjoyed your character and his reluctance to see it being erected. To be honest, I’m still not a fan of it but don’t tell them or they might not let me go home ?

    Greene M Wills
    Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
    2 years ago

    I loved the story Susan! It makes me think of the fear of the unknown, of the inevitable changes and reluctance to accept them and the sudden pride occurring when one finally does….

    Paula Lucas
    Paula Lucas(@paula-lucas)
    2 years ago

    I saw the picture of the Angel of the North and had to read your story. I remember when it was erected and the many opinions of it. I have driven past it a number of times with an evolving opinion. Now England is so far away, it stands strong in my memory of my roots. Thank you for your well written story.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    2 years ago

    I had never heard of this sculpture before. What an amazing work! I love it how you put the creation and installation of it into the perspective of a sceptic, and how he eventually changes his mind about it.

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    2 years ago

    A great story, Susan. I can imagine all the snippets of opinion when such a project is planned and Jimmy is so real I think I can see him waving! I love the humour, too, with the angel dressed in football colours 🙂

    Eric Radcliffe
    Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
    2 years ago

    Hiya Susan, what a little gem you have written here. You have captured the buzz, that mixture of feelings when we see it differently than others. Thank goodness for artists eh! We are all in need of a shake up, for we tend to get stuck in old preconceived ideas and thoughts. Each new generation needs to be reminded of their heritage, the mines in this case, and those who lost their… Read more »

    Danielle Burke
    Danielle Burke(@danielle-burke)
    2 years ago

    It is always fun to see a character completely change his/her mind in a story, especially when the initial attitude is so negative.

    Thompson Emate
    Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
    2 years ago

    I indeed love the last paragraph. It’s a nice ending. Would love to see this statue.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    This is an amazing story, Susan, and very historic. I am happy to know the history of this Angel of the North Sculpture. Thank you for sharing this story here. Well done. 

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