Or maybe Robin Hood, or maybe half a dozen different variations on a theme. He may have lived in the Barnsdale area in Yorkshire and he may have been any number of real people who lived at various times. He may, of course, not be any of the above, but the name Robin Hood may just be an amusing epithet, a sort of ‘Bogey Man’ used to refer to the dangers of wandering in the wild woods. There are references to a similar name used in this way, in fragments of verse and the like that go back before the earliest that Robin himself was supposed to have taken up his trade.
One evening, while accompanying The Dog on her final comfort break before turning in for the night, I heard birdsong. This was well after nine o’clock and I wondered who could be up so late, given that most birds are supposed to be early risers. I followed the sound and it seemed to lead towards a street light. Might it be a nightingale? I thought we were too far north to be in nightingale territory. There was moreover, something familiar about the song. At first I found it hard to place. In an earlier life, living in a more urbanised area I had often noticed that the blackbird would sing quite close to the street lamp in early spring, until quite late in the evening. I had always presumed that there were good pickings to be had among the insect fatalities that litter the pavement under the light.
The closer I came on this occasion the more the song prodded irritatingly at my memory. Then I saw the light. It was a robin. No doubt claiming the street light’s bounty for his own.