Stop looking at my face. That’s not what you need to be paying attention to. My face is just fine. You ought to take the opportunity to take a look down there, where they are. All them little, scurrying things. Put on a lot of speed, don’t they? Back and forth from morning til night.
You lot haven’t got the art of sitting still.
Oh well, suit yourself. I’ll be watching, mind. That’s my job. Keep an eye on all of you hurriers down there. I do me best, but honestly there’s not much helping you if you won’t take a moment to sit still and look down.
There was a good while I never saw anyone up here much at all. Oh, once in a while, sort of passing though. Recently though, it’s like you’ve got bored of scuttling about horizontally and had to come up here to bother me.
Oh, restoration is it? Well you can put any lime away; those clouds are fit to burst. That makes them all scurry hard, but do you see me running for cover? No, I sit here nice and comfy, and just have a good spit when it rains.
Or is that what you came up here to see?
Not sure why you’re fussing over me; there’s worse crumbling to be found in society than round about my backside. You can see it all from up here. People losing purses, and worse. See that corner you came up? Watched a poor lad topple off that when his scaffolding broke. He sat pretty still after that. That was a long time ago.
You see them crying down there sometimes. Yelling and carrying on. Fires, and all of that. What do you mean you never saw nothing like that? Well, you do if you sit here long enough. You? You’re barely a blink in the eye, you are. You over-stretched mayfly.
Oh hello. Here comes the rain.
A bit at first, then a shower. It gathers on that ridge and rushes down faster than you’d think. It’ll build up along that gutter over my head, and push along, taking with it all the dead leaves and moss and other stuff. Magpies get up there. Messy things, but they kick out the moss so you has to tolerate them really.
Better than pigeons. Ha, catch my drift?
All that mass, though, pushing along. Dirty water, slop, slop, slop. It’ll clog in my pipe, and then, oh, yes, excuse me, pal. Here it comes! Mind below!
Ha, got it on you, love! Forgot your umbrella? Sorry, about that, missus.
Love a good gout. Leaves you feeling all clean through.
You don’t mind my dribbling, will you? No, course you won’t. You’re a connoisseur of stonework, I can tell. 1703, that’s when they put me here. Bad year for the devil that one, and rain. They changed the rules after that. People got scared.
Of what? Same as usual; bad luck and falling.
Me? No, I won’t fall. I was a refit, and too well built. No, I’m settled till the end of days, whenever that will be. I’ve outlived your father, and your grandfather, and his before him, and I’m gunning to outlive you and all. I’ll carry on until I’m nothing left but drips myself. Drips and dribbles, a little more of me goes down the cathedral wall each time it rains. There’s a bit of me on all them saints down there, how’s that suit you? Likes of me, sitting over St Peter and dripping me bits on him.
Come to that, you know what I’ve been thinking lately? I’ve been thinking that you hurriers get it all very backwards, you know that? Might be just how it looks from up here, but you all seem to start off as smooth lumps of indistinguishable sameishness, and just get larger and uglier. From little pinky blobs you end up big rumpled things, with flapping great ears, and big honks, or craggy teeth. I’ve seen some of you down there what’s uglier than I ever was.
But a gargoyle?
We do it the right way round. We start off knowing who we are, at our very best. And all that we have, we hold on to. We spend it slowly, day by night by day and little drip by little drip, until we are one with the world on which we sit. We remain content.
We grow softer with time, and our faces become more kindly. We do our jobs, and lose our ferocity and the devil’s still afraid of us.
But suit yourself.
What’s that? You done for the day?
Ah, scurry home then.