When we wander off on our daily dawdle, in search of the vim and vigour that is purported to go with bodily well-being (although, to date, we have no supporting evidence), there are certain conventions that have to be observed.
There is the level crossing, for instance. Here, we need to pause and consider – before we turn round and head for home. It was during this considerate phase of our walk the other day, that the camera and I were taken quite by surprise.
The level crossing lights started to flash, so we turned to watch the train go by, expecting our normal, bucolic, two coach bus-on-train-wheels to trundle past. But, indeed no. It was one of your super high-speed, Intercity, pointy-nosed, all singing, all dancing, high class girls. I felt quite embarrassed. What on earth possessed her to try to get to Newcastle through our short cut? I shudder to think what the brambles in the field did to her stockings – and how she got over the stile in that skirt, I can’t imagine. As for trying to negotiate that bit by the beck in high heels, well!
The camera and I were quite flustered, but we did manage to get the lens cover off in time to to take this picture of her rear end, disappearing round the corner. It’s not often we have such a close brush with celebrity.
We bumped into The Robin on our way round the other day. He was looking very cheerful – in spite of singing that mournful dirge of his. I mentioned to him that it was hard to take him seriously – all that pseudo-sobbing and heart-rending pathos – when he bounces by with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye.
As Hallowe’en is over now, (although, there are still a couple of pumpkin heads sitting in front of one of the houses on our route – the party was so good that they missed the last broomstick home, we suspect) he has a few weeks to himself, before he needs to decide which holly bush to sit in, and take up his ritual Christmas obligation – so he was relaxed and in a communicative mood. We chatted for a good few minutes before he mentioned a previous appointment, and said he had to fly. The upshot of it all was, I have sadly misjudged the fellow, I apologised profusely, of course, and he was good enough to dismiss the matter with a careless flick of his tail.
It seems that he has made somewhat of a name for himself in the Northern Soul world, so he takes every opportunity to practice whenever he thinks he’s alone. It requires focus and attention to detail, he assures me, to fake authenticity.
There has been some research in China showing that, when moisture interacts with the silk of a spider’s web, strange things happen. The strands of silk change and actually trap and hold the moisture, directing it down towards a node in the spider’s web, a place where two strands intersect. The silk at these places, where two strands cross, acts quite differently. At these nodes the moisture changes the silk to a state that rejects water, allowing the dew collected by the strands to form droplets and drip off.
So, if you lived in a desert with lots of fog, which a surprising number of people do, you could set up a fine mesh net and collect your drinking water at dawn, when the fog rolls in off the sea. The nice thing here, is that the fog and the net do all this without any form of human intervention. This means that there is no need for anyone to get up at those unearthly hours, often referred to as Early Morning, to make sure all concerned turn up on time.
As it happens, while we have plenty of fog, we don’t live in a desert. In other words, “We have the technology” but . . .
‘Well, it’s been quite a disappointment, you know. I mean, it was a Supermoon, and all that. Admittedly, it was the third – we’ve had a good year, this year – so I suppose we shouldn’t be too upset, but, well, everything was organised – and then, to be let down at the last minute!’
‘It was that Cat. That faithless, fiddling feline! He had agreed to be here with us – and then he took better booking.’
‘Oh, a big herd, just over the border in Dumfries and Galloway. We certainly don’t have the resources to compete with them. And then, to add insult to injury, he offered to upload the music to our phones instead – for half the original fee!’
‘Exactly what I said, “Whatever happened to tradition?” I said, so we decided it would be better to cancel.’
‘Yes, the Little Dog was a bit put out – said he’d been looking forward all week to howling with laughter, but he was very understanding. We refunded his ticket, of course.’
‘The Dish and The Spoon? Oh, they don’t care. They have a caravan in Wales, you know. They run off to it all the time. Near New Quay, I believe.’
‘Oh, is it? Dolphins and everything, really? How nice!’
Walking down the lane towards the gate one day this week, I thought I saw a large brass button lying amongst the wind blown drifts of oak twigs and leaves. Not a nice shiny button, you understand, but a brass button that had lain there for a while – long enough to acquire a colourful patina of verdigris.
I cleared away a little of the debris to open a less obstructed view and my brass button turned into a mushroom, or perhaps, my brass button turned into a toadstool. I know they are both a fungus, but this was such a bright shiny blue that I hesitated to affix that slightly unsavoury label to it. However, on careful consideration, I had to admit to myself, that the thought of this morel as a savoury morsel sat uncomfortably on the appetite.
Now, as you are well aware, it’s not what you know, but who you know in this world, that makes the difference. Google and I are, if not friends, at least, nodding acquaintances. However, when it comes to the various varieties of fungus, Google, really, doesn’t have a clue.
I was going to start by saying that no picture of a sparrow could be complete without, at least, a reference to Edith Piaf. Then I stopped to think about it. She died in 1963, unless you’re over fifty, possibly over sixty, you have, most likely, only the vaguest idea who she was. To be honest, I remember very little about her myself. I do remember, as a very small child, being made, by my father, to sit and watch a juddery, speckled, black and white television programme – with some lady singing on it. The importance of the programme was that it was the first time a show televised in France was shown live in England – the BBC were showing off their new lightweight outside broadcast equipment. My father, naturally, thought I ought to be aware of such an historic event.
‘Who’s that lady singing?’ I asked, to relieve the boredom.
‘It’s Edit Piaf. Hush now. Mummy’s trying to listen.’ I was told.
You know the strange way you remember things? Well, I remember this all very clearly, where many other events in my life – of probably much greater import – seem to have lost their certainty.
But there is one thing that I’m not sure of. You see, for all these years I have felt confident that the song she was singing was “La Mere”. But, her signature song, which she would surely have used on such an auspicious occasion, was “La Vie en Rose”.
I wonder if there’s anyone at the BBC who remembers?
October is upon us, and although we are still living the high life of British Summer Time (and proud of it – none of your Universal Time Coordinates or even boring old Daylight Saving Time for us, I tell you!) it won’t be long before we have to downsize – back to the cold and drab of mean old Greenwich time.
Autumn is waiting in the wings, occasionally she peeks out through the curtain – just to see what sort of audience she has. Most days we have a little rain and a little sunshine but, now and again we are treated to a tiny taste of what is to come – we have a day when the world doesn’t bother to get out of bed and she leaves the curtains drawn. On these days, we struggle through the gloom, with our horizons only extending to the nearest damp and bedraggled sheep.
Winter is a time often associated with ‘Good Flying Weather’. Bright, sharp sunlight and the air so cold and thick that you only need half as much under your wings as you usually do.
This is one of the former days – not one of the latter.
Low visibility. Low cloud ceiling. No flying today.