“If I am not grotesque, I am nothing. Except when I light a fag.”

Grotesques. Sheffield Cathedral. Image: DJP/2022

“Just look at them,” said George Grotesque to his neighbour. “They’re always wandering around, annoying people, begging for money, and they’re always drunk.”

“I know,” said Godfrey Grotesque, “I remember the days when all we had to look at were gravestones.”

“At least they don’t bother us,” continued George Grotesque. “We’re far too ugly for them to even notice.”

Godfrey Grotesque smiled. “That’s not strictly true, because all I have to do is light a fag and they all come running to ask if I’ve got a spare one.”


Have you noticed these Victorian grotesques decorating the stone gate pillars outside Sheffield Cathedral?

Grotesques were originally ornamental decorations discovered during the Renaissance in subterranean ruins known as ‘grotte’, hence ‘grotesques’.

We now associate them with unnatural, ugly, or distorted forms, which can have the power to shock or scare those that cast their eyes over them.

They are thought to have the power to ward off evil spirits, guarding the buildings they occupy, and protecting those inside.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved