Wednesday 9th May, another cool, still grey day, very low cloud, slightly less chilly. The swifts ought to be here, and we've glimpsed them twice, but it isn't just the weather, it's the shrinking population, finally heading for zero in my little patch. They're still around, but they don't live here any more, they won't be shrilling down Roundhill Crescent again, or diving over my garden.
Spring rituals: I realised just the other day, thinking of Houseman's poem about the wild cherries: within living memory, ie for about the last five years my best wild cherry viewing, year by year, has been along the M40 corridor, between the M25 and Oxford; where the red kites soar. At least their numbers, as the number of buzzards, is increasing; which tells a good news story about the small mammal population also. Motorways as nature reserves, likewise military installations and even airports. Anyway, to Patching Woods and the Angmering Estate to see the bluebells, this year a very beautiful one, the blue as rich as I have ever seen it, and the grey skies and cool rain seeming to make all the colours deeper and more luminous. Crowds of insect-hawking swallows and a pair of grebes on the fishing lodge by the A27, and later once, a red deer hind went darting away, but otherwise we were almost entirely alone with the birdsong. (I tried to make a movie to capture the thrushes, but it's rubbish & I won't bore you with it).
Meanwhile, France has a socialist President, Greece has ditched austerity (I think Greece should ditch the euro, always have thought that, but if the bail-out queen of Europe wants to prolong the agony and trash the eurozone, who am I to protest?) Andrew Lansley is inviting vulture "health" firms to pick over the corpse of the NHS, and Cameron and Clegg are retrenching, after a drubbing in the local council elections. How annoying it is to have the Tories say, whenever taking another lunge toward the extreme right wing, that they are serving the concerns of ordinary people. Hey, count me out! On the other hand, when it comes to reforming the house of lords, I'm sure I speak for ordinary people everywhere in the UK when I say I could not care less... (except that I assume, and I'm sure I'm correct, that any project undertaken by our lovely government has the purpose and will have the effect of a further shift towards feeding the rich, robbing the poor and the already-not-too-wildly-distant goal of open neo-fascism*). Reform them to appease the Liberal Democrats? Nonsense, they don't need appeasing. They will swallow ANYTHING, they already have. Leave the lords alone! They're a mild source of entertainment, and they occasionally annoy our ruling caste, which one can only applaud. Otherwise, in the immortal words of W S Gilbert:
& last week, a "massive attack on Avaaz" report, relayed to me with an urgent demand for emergency donations. That's a little puzzling, I thought, and went searching. Didn't find out much, except the opinions proffered by TechWeekEurope, itself not exactly an organ I trust, but still. Bears wondering about, and I'll continue to do what I do. Just sign the petitions, on a case by case basis.
Btw, tried the cybersecurity quiz on the same site, which I aced. I am Fort Knox. I suspect if you score less than I did on this multiple choice sheet you should not be online unescorted by your mum, but it's fun. Try it and see! My live mealworms finally arrived yesterday, after spending eight days in the hands of the Royal Mail, and looking about at lively as that moribund organisation itself. Still, I picked out the wriggliest and set up my market stall, in despair as to how the birds would find them (having taken down all feeders but the niger seed for the goldfinches, who are still buying).This morning, two blue tits spotted the new arrivals, immediately followed by a tree rat (grey squirrel), that got itself a fairground ride spinning around on the top of the feeder.
The keynote tree is a horse-chestnut near Patching, just coming into bloom. The title of this entry comes from another Houseman poem, which I would love as much as I love the wild cherries one, except for the last verse; I find it petulant. The enchantress, if it's okay to use the term outside poetry, I met in Patching Woods, is neither heartless nor witless, and if she makes herself available to all comers, she's doing a good job.
*Did I say neo-fascism? I apologise unreservedly, I was in the wrong and should not have used that term. What I should have said was: "towards policies that would have been viewed as dangerously extreme, hard right wing immorality and corruption, in the recent past."