Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead

The other evening as I walked the western edge of Soho, from Canal Street northwards, I happened to pass an enormous, slumbering creature, lurking silently on a dark city side street. 

This crane must have weighed hundreds of tons, and could lift nearly as much. These are the  counterweights at the rear (below):

I expected the tracks to be rubber of some kind, not these vastly-heavier steel treads:

And the - pardon my complete lack of technical vocabulary! - the long arm that does the lifting, soared way up into the dark night sky!

The title of this post is from a poem which I first heard when I was at primary (elementary) school in Northern Ireland. Here is the poem in full. Even today, I find it as enchanting as I did when my teacher read it aloud, and the rhythm of that bright, breezy first line, stuck in my head in an instant:

Steam Shovel

By Charles Malam

The dinosaurs are not all dead.
I saw one raise its iron head
To watch me walking down the road
Beyond our house today.
Its jaws were dripping with a load
Of earth and grass that it had cropped.
It must have heard me where I stopped,
Snorted white steam my way,
And stretched its long neck out to see,
And chewed, and grinned quite amiably.

And finally, words fail me!... the crane in Soho is engineered and built by a famous company, Liebherr. The final photo, below, is from a Liebherr exhibition, showing off just how much their cranes can lift... ... ...

I'm guessing that the one I saw in Soho is the second-smallest in this photo?