THREE BRIDGES: A Trilogy

PART THREE – The Queensferry Crossing

The Queensferry Crossing stands imperiously in the Firth of Forth.

Its steel glistens in the early afternoon autumnal sun. Beams traverse diagonally from the peak of the structure. Taught, resolute; like the springs of some gargantuan musical instrument. Above all the bridge looks clean. Fresh. Polished. Confident. Revelling in its beauty as it soars above the still waters below. On its left, through its arches, peek the rooftops, the chimneys, the roads of Central Scotland sprawling into the distance. To its right, the Ochils creep into view. The hilltops, despite all their grandeur, still seemingly diminished beneath the presence of the nation’s newest bridge. The most picturesque of all picturesque postcard scenes.

Suddenly the waters below start to ripple. No yachts, boats, cruise ships edge into view offering an explanation for this apparent anomaly. The absence of any semblance of a breeze further fails to provide reasoning. The ripples increase, gaining strength, ferocity. Until they become part of vicious, swirling, thrashing whirlpool, water sent shooting in all directions. A violent, foreboding contrast to the calm and measured authority of the bridge towering above.

And then the waters part, sliced open, as the head of a monstrous creature bursts into view. The full size, all the sheer brutality, of this enormous creature jerkily thrusts out of the water as it roars, fiercely, deafeningly, shattering the silence of the surrounding area. A komodo dragon. A huge, gigantic, colossal komodo dragon. It stands on its hind legs. Its head and upper reaches towering above the road level of the bridge, almost scaling the height of the bridge’s arches. It lets out another jaw-tingling roar, showering the trembling bridge with a multitude of discoloured saliva. And then it bites down. Sawing through the centre of the bridge with its teeth, sending a collection of cars spinning violently towards the water below. It bites down again, simultaneously thrashing at the structure with its arms, roaring all the while. The bridge creaks. And starts to give away. Its two ends slowly begin to cave, gradually sliding toward the waves, the steel buckling as it descends. A vision of horror. Chaotic, nightmarish, and yet somehow a tad unrealistic. The two ends of the bridge splash into the river, disappearing swiftly into the depths. The bridge ripped from the horizon. Gone. Destroyed. The gargantuan komodo dragon roars once more, its head thrust triumphantly towards the skies.

 

‘Annnnnnd…cut! That’ll do! Looks good!’

Aaron Charlie McArthur, locally celebrated B-Movie writer and director, plays out a small self-congratulatory drum beat on the surface of the desk with his fingers, smiles briefly, before spinning to the other side of the small electronics-heavy room in his revolving chair, away from the computer and the image of the now bridge-less Forth river.

‘Yes that should do it I would say. Wouldn’t you agree Johnny?’ he takes off his shades with one hand and runs the other through his flowing blonde hair. He looks at his heavily-bearded and just-as-heavily stomached friend, and co-producer, who sits hunched over a mixing desk.

‘Well…I suppose so…it’s just…’

‘Yep,’ interrupts Aaron, ‘I think that’s officially a wrap on Giant Komodo Dragon 6: A Bridge Too Far!

‘Whatever aye,’ sighs Johnny, ‘only…na, forget it…’

‘Oh come on now young Jonathan. There’s no dictators in this film company. We can all, the both of us, be honest with one another can’t we. I’m all ears. Unless it’s your nonsense about ‘why does it have to be the bridge’ again?’

‘Well…’ hesitates Johnny, ‘it’s just…well, it’s only just bloody up. It’s only been open for a few weeks. Maybe a month or so. Can we not give it a bit of time before we tear the bugger down? Even if it is only film. Just seems a bit…what’s the world…opportunistic maybe? Obvious.’

‘Look, oh co-producer of mine,’ answers Aaron, hopping up from his chair in a casual, even arrogant, manner, before pacing the floor, ‘I’ll explain this one final time and then we can move on with our lives ok? Hmm? Ok. It’s a metaphor. A metaphor for today’s society. For fads. The brevity of interest. The komodo dragon represents our attention spans in today’s society. Understand now?’

‘Erm…no, if I’m honest.’

‘Look,’ sighs Aaron, ‘it’s a metaphor alright. A big bloody 50 foot monstrously ugly metaphor for…society…for commercialism…for…Ah fuck it…look…’ his arrogant, poised façade seems to drop from his face, his assured posture dissipates, ‘…it’s just a shitey B-movie. Ok? It’s a big bastard monster movie with barely passable graphics and a storyline that would barely pass a Standard Grade English exam. But it sells. As you know. Ok?’

‘Aye but why the bridge? Why not the Falkirk Wheel? Or the Kelpies maybe? Or just anything close to that neck of the woods to be honest. Bastards that they are. Why something from Fife? Why our most recent mechanical marvel?’

‘Because. It. Sells. The bridge will sell. Christ, the tourists are still flocking to the thing a month later, clogging up the bloody traffic! If we get in now we might even shift something approaching treble figures.’

‘Aye, fair enough.’

‘And of course there’s the family connection aswell.’

‘Family connection?’

‘Yeah. I’ve told you this before. My great great great great…eh…great, I think, Grandad worked on the Forth Bridge when that was being built. He’s the one my middle name is taken from. Bit of a superstar in the family y’know.’

‘Ah right aye, I mind you telling me that come to think of it. Impressive.’

‘Indeed. And my Grandad. Well. He has a less illustrious connection to the Road Bridge. He, erm, he was the first one to breakdown on the bridge…’

‘Really?’ laughs Johnny.

‘Well…not so much breakdown as…well he stopped his car on the middle of the bridge and…well he thought the bridge was about to fall down or…you know, it’s not something we like talking about. Mainly because people react like you and laugh at the poor bastard. Forget it, forget it. Anyway my point is it will sell.’

‘Fair enough Aaron, fair enough’ comes the retort as Johnny takes his glasses off to wipe the tears of laughter from his eyes.

‘Right anyway,’ announces Aaron putting his sunglasses back on, quickly followed by the familiar hand-through-the-hair move, his strut, his swagger, returning, ‘we’d better make a start on Giant Komodo Dragon 7. I’m liking that Falkirk idea by the way. Yes. Yes indeed.’

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