I could hardly believe it. It was the legendary, ghostly eagle of the north, the Highland Ruskin – a dreadful creature of darkest myth, wicked and cruel, they say. This one was about twelve foot tall, and almost as wide, and had a beak on him that could swallow a small garden bird like me whole. And there I was, looking up staring into his eyes – great big, blood-shot eyes. Oh horrible it was ... horrible!
‘What are you doing here?’ it demanded, and in a voice that would freeze you to the spot, so cold and icy was it.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said, twittering in a rather high-pitched voice. ‘I was just out for the evening, having a go at being a bit ... well, Gothic.’
‘Gothic! GOTHIC!’ he cried, and the ground seemed to quake for a mile around. ‘Do you not realise, foolish creature, that Gothic is naught to be trifled with? It is a strictly academic term applied to certain forms of architecture, literature and graphic symbolism, generally featuring, but not limited to, the application of precise proportions, styles and genres of aesthetic harmony? Did you not know that?’
‘Er ... no, not really,’ I replied nervously.
(Blimey, I thought to myself, he’s a rum one. I if get out of here in one piece tonight I’ll be doing well. I was shaking so much, the branch on which I was perched nearly fell off. And so did I!)
What followed I really find difficult to recall, and very painful even trying to describe to you. It was a torment worthy of Marquis de Sade himself, presented in the form of long, endless drawn-out lectures on the traditions of Medieval Gothic and Gothic-Revivalist architecture. Pediments, architraves and flying butresses - doorways, windows and towers - It went on and on (it seemed like forever). I couldn't understand any of it. And I had to pay attention because he said .... he said there would be questions later. Questions!
Hours went by like this ...