Not happy with the way my wings project turned out, I decided that anyway I must create a character whose wings they were ….
My character is an angel named Yukondrek (after an all-in wrestling champion I once met named Yukon Eric).
Not because Yukondrek was such a hardworking apprentice angel but also because he was, not to put too fine a point on it, rather ambitious, when he asked that he be made into an angel with iron wings his wish was granted.
Yukondrek hoped to become very strong and powerful, even to become as important and famous as the most illustrious of angels that there had ever been.
As his wings grew and grew he worked hard to become strong in every limb so he could support and match these beautiful iron wings that formed themselves with curves and curls into a heart-shape rising out of the centre of his back.
He was nearly bursting with pride that his wish had been granted so perfectly when he realised that his wings would need thousands and thousands - if not millions - of feathers to beat the air if he was to achieve lift-off and fly into the sky.
Unfortunately, and you probably know this already, iron wings can’t grow feathers because feathers can only grow from quills, like the spines that birds develop so they can fly.
Never one to give up easily, Yukondrek pondered, hoping for inspiration. Then “Eureka !” he cried. “What could be as light as feathers and as obligingly accommodating as paper ?!” All different kinds of paper to cover every eventuality of air current: breezes, blasts, whirlwinds, gales, draughts, flurries, every sort and kind of wind.
He chose thin paper and thick paper, some shiny and silver, some plasticky and white, patterned, plain, every kind you can think of, and cut out ‘feathers’ day and night for a week.
It wasn’t easy to stick them, even with extra strong glue, to the wrought- iron wings because he had to work from over his shoulder, or reach around his ribs. How he ached, how tiring it was. But the thought of how much he would be admired by all the other angels kept him going.
The day came when he could not get even one more feather on his beautiful heart-shaped wings and he decided the time had come to make his debut as a fully-fledged, iron-winged angel, when he had a marvellous idea - in fact he was so pleased with his idea that he jumped up and down a bit. He, Yukondrek, would succeed where Icarus had failed. He too would go to the top of a cliff and jump into the clear blue air and his beautiful strong iron wings would beat him up high into the sky, further than any other angel had ever been and they would carry him to all the countries of the world, even up into the arc of the heavens, and back again in time for supper.
On the appointed day, crowds of apprentice angels appeared to watch their brother Yukondrek take off into the blue blue sky. Or at least they hoped he would, though it has to be said that one or two of them did wonder if Yukondrek was on the right track. But then again, they were angels and knew better than anyone that miracles can happen.
Yukondrek took a deep breath and a few steps back from the edge of the cliff so he could get a good run up to it. The gathered angels took a deep breath too and held it as he increased his pace – and jumped !
For a little while, that actually felt like a long while, Yukondrek appeared to float in the air, his great paper-feathered wings beating slowly but powerfully when, to the horror of the assembled crowd he began to fall and fall and, oh dear, very heavily, for as you know iron weighs a lot. Before you could say ‘Oh, dear !’ twice Yukondrek had crashed to the ground, at all angles and tangles with the broken wings under and around him.
Because he is an angel Yukondrek lives for ever but it was a very hard lesson to learn and he had to begin his apprenticeship all over again. He knew this time that he must not try to be better and cleverer than all the other angels but be glad that he was an angel at all.
The heart-shaped iron wings, a bit battered it’s true, can now be found hanging from a rail in a dusty sculpture room in a very nice place in London where people can learn all sorts of things including that you can have A Very Good Idea but that it doesn’t always work out. But that’s all right, because you never know what you might learn along the way.