EBL to Her Coy Reader

It’s as well I don’t aim to blog every day or even every few days. My life is bursty. I live in bursts. Take last week for example.

I was away for work, stuck in a hotel room with no Internet connection. I could have paid for Internet if I had wanted to, but it was expensive (in my mind) and I was out and about so much that it didn’t seem worth it. Most evenings I didn’t get back to my room until nearly ten o’clock, exhausted and too brain-dead to string together any sentences, let alone read those produced by others.

So it goes, my dears. At times I write extensively, just as I did for NaNoWriMo; at others I read more, or exercise, or I knit, or I play games, or learn a new language, or I get involved in some project or other. I also volunteer as a school governor and help to write quizzes every fortnight for the Village Hall funds. I am a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. I can’t do everything at once so I do things in turn. Last week I worked.

I also socialised. I am not a social animal by nature, but when I am away in Leeds I like to catch up with the local Offspring, and a friend who also works in Leeds, and colleagues whom I usually only meet by telephone. On Monday night for example I worked late at the office with one colleague and we went for a pint after to get over it.

One thing drives out another and I realised I have blogs I want to write this month and have not yet done. Next week I have some time off so perhaps I will do them then.

But is it just me? I am interested in so many incompatible things and cannot choose. I end up doing all of them superficially. When I was at school I couldn’t decide on subjects to study. If you ask me about hobbies I am likely to say I have none, almost because there are so many things I want to do that I can’t settle on one.

Andrew Marvell had it right – there is not enough time. It’s true he was just trying to get his lover into bed, but the same principle applies. There’s no blogging from the grave.

In haste, and in eternity, Namaste!

Just like buses…

Everything comes along at once.

The world, my dears, can be a barrier to writing, almost as if it were shy and didn’t want EBL picking over its weary bones in public. How inconvenient.

I never promised to write every day, or even planned to do so, and I never promised you no rose garden. Still, it would have been nice to post a little more over the last few days, and to feel I had the luxury of time to do so. That’s what really bothers me – the lack of time, or lack of ability to do all the things I want to do. Priorities.

I am pleased to report that good things have been happening: visits by Offspringses,  getting to Quaker meetings on Sunday after an absence, managing meditations daily and ducks appearing in the garden.

Duck and DrakeThe universe has a real sense of humour. A duck and a drake have recently taken up residence in the village, wild ducks (“Wild? I was positively livid!” as the old joke goes) which spent the morning at EBL Towers and swam on our little washing-up-bowl-sized pond without sniggering too loudly.

Three ducksWe live in a very bird-couples-oriented village. Visiting avians tend to come in pairs. This year it’s the duck and drake; a couple of years back it was the peacock and peahen, regularly seen waiting at the bus stop. One elderly resident claims to have seen a pair of dodos when she was little, but we think she may be grousing. The solitary bird visitor best known to us all was Dyson, the pheasant, so called because he was brightly coloured and cleaned up anything left lying around.

This time of year is blessed by birds. The sparrows having noisy quarrels in the lilac tree – really you would not believe the language! – and crows flapping ponderously by with whole tree branches in their beaks, hoping to build a nest one-up on her next door, who’s no better than she ought to be. The coal tits seem to be heading back to the hole in the outbuilding wall again, despite their unfortunate experience last year when most of their fledglings ended up terminally acquainted with the innards of one of the neighbourhood cats. Our garden hosts woodpeckers and goldfinches and wood pigeons, with the needle stuck on “who? who?”, and chaffinches and tree sparrows and blue tits and jackdaws and starlings and swallows and house martins and even sometimes swifts zipping through like feathered lightning and screaming with excitement at how fast they are going. The show offs. There’s a sparrowhawk too, who dines on some of the above, and who can blame him?

I’m not really very interested in bird watching, but you can’t help it here, unless you close your eyes. Even so, your ears are then still assaulted by nature’s feathered frenzy, especially In spring, when the dawn chorus is warming up earlier and earlier, and the low sun throws shadows of giant birds on the curtains.

There’s a children’s story called “Peace at last” which I can still remember more or less word for word, having read it to Offspringses so frequently. At one point, when Mr Bear is trying to sleep in the garden he is disturbed by the sun coming up and the birds singing.

“SHINE! SHINE!” went the sun. “TWEET! TWEET!” went the birds.

“Oh no!” said Mr Bear. “I can’t stand this!”

I know just how he feels. And yet it’s wonderful too. Because the world is turning, the world is waking, in spite of the cold and snow and wind from the steppes, and sparrows are having wild, noisy and uncontrolled sex in the lilac tree at five in the morning. Honestly, country life is a riot. Literally.

Namaste.

I believe in magic

I’m sorry, my dears, but EBL feels whiny today so this will be a post of brevity in order to spare you my complaining. It’s enough that my family suffer without inflicting it upon other innocents too.

InsteadShawl I will show you the knitting I completed over Easter, because I think they were good and cheerful things and they make me feel better.

Firstly I finished a shawl I was trying out in super chunky wool. I scaled it up from an Aran pattern and it worked pretty well. The most fun, as so often in life, was adding the tassels.

 

TheFair isle jumper second was a fair isle jumper, which was an exercise in the style of knitting, as I am still building up a head of steam to produce the Sarah Lund jumper later this year. It turned out pretty OK, and I am now working on a chunky Norwegian style jumper, in part to get my tension right. I like this style of knitting but it takes more concentration.

 

To relax I am working on a cotton scarf, using a pattern from Stolen Hearts, Vintage Souls. It’s pretty, but I find I am not fond of knitting in cotton. It’s basically coloured string.

However, I proved today that such knitting is truly magical. This is going to refer obliquely to my complaininess, but be not afraid. I want to tell you about it because it made me laugh too.

Yesterday I had to take mother for a spirometry check-up. It’s traumatic for all concerned because she can’t follow the instructions due to her dementia, and she gets very anxious being somewhere strange and she can’t remember why she is there so gets more anxious the longer we stay. Anyway, on top of all that we had to wait for about 40 minutes because they were running late in clinic. It was the dictionary definition of stressful.

Today, as it happens, I had to go back for a blood test myself. Shoulder pain, boring. But to pre-empt the inevitable delays and waiting I took my knitting.

“We won’t have to wait if I take it,” I told Sigoth, “they don’t like it if you get settled with some knitting to keep you busy.”

And so we arrived a little early, because traffic was quiet, and sat down. Out popped the nurse straight away and within a few minutes we were heading back home with me laughing like a drain most of the way.

If the NHS introduced targets for completing rows, I reckon it would transform patient care within a week.

Namaste.

All change is loss

In a previous life as a Local Authority IT Manager, I had two application support teams. They provided a help line service to staff using a couple of key IT systems in the authority, and were really rather good at it most of the time. Which is more than can be said for a lot of IT support teams in my experience.

In fact they were so good at it that they wanted to become better.

One of the areas they were keen to know about was change management. Working in a Local Authority is a master class in change management. I was there for about five years and had three managers, three different departments, and at least four restructures (the latest starting before the previous one had been completed) without changing my job. One of the reasons your Local Authority can appear a bit sullen to you as a customer is that the staff are being messed about by politicians like you would not believe. This applies quite generally in public sector, but whereas teachers and nurses get a sympathetic press much of the time, council workers are generally less fortunate.

So unsurprisingly my team was keen to understand how to handle the challenge of turning up for work and remaining sane.

I had also worked in a different Local Authority back in the 1980s and things were not so different then. One day the office received word that they were being moved to another building and we had to pack up immediately. Boxes appeared, were labelled and filled, and then disappeared. We moved as directed and found desks and boxes magically awaiting us.

Unfortunately for one person they were on holiday. When he returned to the office he found an empty space with a note saying “Sorry mate, we just couldn’t stand you any more”. It took him all morning to track us down.

Meanwhile, back to my team. I managed to arrange a day’s training for them on change management. It was illuminating and possibly saved quite a few of them from requiring therapy, despite talking at times about cheese that moved and polar bears on melting icebergs. Nothing is perfect.

We also talked about being scared and confused and feeling insecure. We talked about how people react when they feel those things and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and realised why they asked stupid questions and how we should communicate changes properly and many other good things.

The one lesson that provoked a great deal of discussion as the trainer’s assertion that all change was loss.

My dears, I feel it is true. Not all of my colleagues were fully convinced but I uphold that proposition. When change happens we lose something, The something may be a thing we do not want, like an aching tooth or a few pounds of weight or loneliness. Nevertheless it is a loss and we must feel it and work through the stages of loss, however quickly and possibly gladly.

I must come to terms that I can’t use my pain as an excuse any more. I can’t hide behind my weight as a reason for not being sociable or not liking myself. I can’t demand sympathy from others because I am lonely and deserve special consideration. I have to face up to the responsibility of being happy.

It’s not that I want to be in pain or feel bad about myself or feel isolated. It’s unlikely that many people would actively seek those things for themselves.

But when we have been in those situations for a while we adapt to them, we learn how to live with them, work around them, define ourselves by them. Sometimes when they are taken away we no longer quite know who we are or how to behave. Then we feel scared and confused and insecure.

So why the sudden obsession with change management, EBL?

I’m glad you asked.

Life in EBL Towers is a little stressful. Despite completing the Great Project, which was a relief (and a change and a loss) this week is yet a Great Challenge. Sigoth will be unemployed as of the weekend, which leaves me in some anxiety about coping financially. I will be the only wage earner again, which I find quite hard, and we will have to be pretty tight-fisted. The Offspringses are all struggling too and I like to be their safety net – not that they often ask, but when they do it’s important.

In any case, it is true to say I am a little, well, scared and confused and insecure.

I am also known for catastrophising, so I wake up worrying about losing the house and moving mother to a home, which will kill her from the strain, and generally having uncheerful thoughts. I picture the Offspringses homeless or hungry or in variously desperate straits. Usually I hear wolves howling. The recent bitter wind from Mordor has not helped. At this rate I’ll be beating Orcs off with a stick and summoning Voldemort as my Life Coach.

I might even have to resort to a Knitted Army of Evil. Here’s one I made earlier.

Knitted Dalek

Or things may turn out OK. I’ll let you know.

Namaste.

 

The great British tea ceremony

Today, my dears, I am somewhat exhausted from a drive down south and back to collect the Southern-based Offspring. Sigoth and I ignored the hysteria on the radio and set off with no more than a packet of chocolate hob nobs to sustain us through the perils of March snow. The journey was fast, uneventful and slushy. Coming back was faster, although I regretted my cavalier haste, discovering I had picked up the Yorkshire road atlas by mistake and was faced with having to improvise when we learned the M1 was closed on the northbound carriageway. We took the A1 instead and very jolly it was. By the time we reached God’s Own County there were patches of blue sky and the occasional glimpse of sunshine. The thermometer rose above zero for the first time. We were nearly home.

The worst thing about the trip was the utter lack of potable tea. To a true-born daughter of this sceptre isle, set in a silver sea, this is a calamity. The hotel we use when visiting the Southern-based Offspring is convenient for location, has ample parking and is close to an excellent Indian restaurant. However, the proprietors, no matter how sound in every other respect, feel that sachets fo UHT milk are acceptable for the in-room catering. My dears, they are wrong.

The result was that I arrived home having been deprived of the elixir of life for almost 48 hours. I was a wreck. The kettle was boiled and tea prepared within minutes of our return, and order was restored to the planets orbiting in the heavens. I felt strong enough to deal with the emails that had flustered into my in-box.

For those of you who are not familiar with the place tea plays in civilised life, I urge you to study this introduction to The Tea Code in British Etiquette. It may be of service if you ever visit.

Meanwhile, for those of you who need a musical version, please enjoy the tea rap – but only if you don’t mind some naughty words. Apparently rap is about rage and rage is about swearing. You have been warned.

Namaste.

 

Future Bright

What did you want to be when you were fifteen?” asked the avuncular presenter on Radio 4; he also pointed out that while he knew he had a few listeners who were not yet fifteen, nevertheless the average audience age was 58. I felt younger for a moment, when being below average seemed OK, then chided myself for ageism. The article was related to a survey of teenage aspiration which had proven to be mismatched against predictions for future labour market demand.

“Since when did that matter?” I wondered. “Surely most of us wanted to be something extraordinary, but knew deep down it may never quite work out>”

What I meant was, I knew. I didn’t mind either. I always saw something honourable and even desirable about being ordinary.

When I was fifteen I was torn between options. I wanted to get married, have six children and live in the country baking bread, keeping hens and raising artists.

The other option was to be a teacher. I understood I would need to make myself a living, that I was unlikely to get into astronaut school, given that I was too fat to be an air hostess and also decided to take German instead of Physics. Xenolinguistics would be brilliant but I am still waiting on NASA discovering (or admitting to) more than evidence of water on Mars billions of years ago implying that there may have been organisms there once, or fossilised nanobacteria in meteorites.

Teaching appealed to me on a number of levels. I had had a happy experience at primary school, and thought teachers were great. I liked keeping an eye on younger children. Finally primary school teaching did not require specialisation in a single subject. You didn’t become a maths teacher or an English teacher or a biology teacher. You just were a teacher, and taught everything. That suited me completely because I was what the call an “all-rounder” (and not just because of my endomorphic propensities).

So there I was being a sensible teenager, a thing of vanishingly small probability. But I listened to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on the radio and knew that in an infinite universe anything was possible, and indeed could even be extrapolated from a fairy cake. So I also knew it was possible, if improbable, that dreams could come true.

I wanted to be either a full time mum or a teacher because they were realistic options that I thought I might achieve. What I dreamed of being was different.

No one asks you that, though, do they? They don’t say “What do you dream of being when you grow up?”

I dreamed of being a time traveller, or the first person to walk on Mars of the Moons of Saturn or an as yet undiscovered planet out past Alpha Centauri. I dreamed of being a famous explorer, a starship captain, of discovering the cure for cancer in the Amazon rain forest, or the cure for war at a Tibetan monastery high in the Himalayas. I dreamed of saving the rhino and the giant panda and the Siberian tiger. I dreamed of being a witch who could cast spells to bring people to their senses, solve murders and thwart evil villains in their lairs. I dreamed of going back and stopping Hitler. I dreamed, you see, of making a difference.

Some days I still do. Mostly I encourage other, younger, folk to dream. “It’s too late for me,” I try to tell them, “but you can still do it. You have time.”

Pathetic, my dears. Absolutely pathetic.

Why should I give up just because time and gravity have ganged up on me? In the end someone has to beat the odds. “Look at Catherine Cookson,” I tell myself. “She only wrote her first novel in her forties.”

Well, we haven’t had any poetry in the Bag o’ Bits ™ for a few days now, so I’ll let Milton chip in. In his poem, “On His Blindness”, particularly appealing to me given my own struggles with visual decline, he wrote:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.

Milton was a bit of a bore to my mind, but my dears, he was right and sometimes we must be patient. It’s a pain, I know, and I detest it. I am not a person with great reserves of patience. It’s as well that I became neither a full time mum nor a teacher. I can see I am not suited for such things. Milton knew what his talent was, and was frustrated at not being able to use it fully. I am yet to discover mine, and so am frustrated at not using it fully. Life, eh?

Today I remembered that bright, hot feeling I had at fifteen when the world lay before me to be plundered for experiences. I plundered a little. I am glad of that. I didn’t choose a path and follow it, but came adventurously by winding, unexpected roads. That has been the fun. I’m keeping a blindfold on, because knowing what comes next would be too dull.

It seems a bit of a paradox that a bright future is best seen with a blindfold, but that’s just the way it is, out here on the Moons of Saturn.

Namaste.

Brain Hurt

It is true that I have been slipping recently, reneging on my promises. As the year grows more mature, my good intentions begin to feel the strain.

A few months back I decided to try and spend less time watching TV, because it rotted my brain, and more time doing life affirming activities. I made a list, because, well, lists are Good. What I discovered was that I liked doing some of the things more than others, and I have kept on doing them more and doing the other things less.

“No problem,” I decided. “It still is better than TV.”

I have also been watching some TV, but it’s TV I want to watch ie DVDs, rather than just switching on and seeing what Auntie can serve up.

So it’s all going well.

Did I sound convincing? Were you fooled? Even for a moment?

No, neither was I. Sad face.

I have been knitting more, and am enjoying it. I have also been reading a bit more and revelling in being able to do so. What has been slipping is the yoga.

I don’t do exercise. I was the fat kid always chosen last for the sports team. I wasn’t unfit, as such. I cycled a lot. I walked a lot. Actually I was good at shot put and javelin and discus. I’m guessing I have some kind of Viking heritage somewhere back in the ancient past.  I was probably a Valkyrie in a former life. It’s all coming back to me now – the mead hall, the sagas, the thundering hooves and corpses.

Yoga, then. I started doing that last year and found it useful, if frequently hilarious due to being middle aged and unable to stand on one foot without falling over. I liked the gentle pressures and the link to breath and the meditation.

I have not kept up with practice, and I don’t know why. I do know I will have to stop for a few weeks following the operation. This was very frustrating last time. Perhaps I am preparing for that again. However, I suspect I am just inherently lazy and slipping back into my comfort zone, and this morning I paid the price. I watched TV.

Instead of getting up to do my practice I watched the news. It featured Nigel Farage. If you are from the UK I need say no more. If you are not, he is a politician who appears to think Britain is some kind of super power, possibly of the imperial variety, and therefore be living in another century.  If you really must, you can probably Google him, but be warned, he is not for the faint-hearted.

He makes my brain hurt.

It will not surprise regular victims of the Bag of Bits ™ that EBL, your friendly neighbourhood blogger, is of the woolly liberal, tree-hugging persuasion. I have views which can be described as left-ish. On occasion, in my rather nice, middle-class, bleeding-heart way, I can be radical about some things, such as pacifism, the value of education for its own sake, and the Disestablishment of the Church of England.

As such, I endured him for a few moments, then discovered I agreed with something he said, felt defiled and decided to do my yoga after all. To be fair, the thing he said was that Cameron was not to be trusted, so I was not quite as lost and depraved as it may seem. However, my entire practice was spent with my breath hissing through clenched teeth. My meditation tried in vain to get past him. He was there, at every breath in, and breath out. I inhaled his ghastly pronouncements, and exhaled his dreadful smile. He rose within my fevered brain like the Eye of Mordor.

Finally I asked the universe for a hug.

Do I sound needy? At that moment I was, my dears. And at that moment, I also was hugged.

So now I hug you, whether you want it or not. I hug you all.

Namaste.

 

Snow train

The train had arrived early in Leeds in spite of Snowmageddon. Our management had told people to leave early in case of travel problems, with a predicted 15cm of snow across the Pennines which would inevitably cause difficulties for those travelling more than a few yards from Leeds City Centre. I left at my planned time and the train arrived early. It hadn’t read the memo, or, indeed, the weather forecast, and had crossed the Pennines in excellent time.

At York we sat outside the station for a long time, trapped as two other not-very-useful Engines gossiped idly on platform 5. We imagined them stamping their wheels and rubbing their fenders to keep warm, sheltered snugly under the Victorian roof and thinking little, caring less, for Engines which had arrived early or kept to their timetable.

“We’re waiting for two other trains to move so we can come in on Platform 5,” the conductor announced, keen to demonstrate his frustration and lack of culpability. We were all in it together alright.

The minutes crawled by, slow in the frozen wind, and we waited. There was sighing and tutting and raising of eyebrows. None of them achieved a forward momentum. I played Sudoku on my phone. It didn’t seem worth calling home where Sigoth was snuggling and thinking of dinner. Other passengers however chose to share their outrage with loved ones, and many conversations ensued along the lines of “I’m stuck outside York now, we’re waiting for a platform.” It was generally followed by a character-defining pronouncement of either “hopefully not long now” or “probably be ages, bloody trains”.

Eventually another trian strolled past heading north.

“That’s the culprit!” the conductor told us. “Feel free to gesticulate as he goes by!”

And everyone laughed. Some of us waved, ironically I’m sure. People turned to their neighbours and smiled and agreed it was good to have a conductor with a sense of humour. We felt warm and companionable, thanks to a single quip. Onward, fellow travellers!

One man made everyone’s miserable, cold, frustrating journey better. How easy it is to share a little joy, if only we remember to try.

Namaste.

 

City Square, 3 A.M

City Square, LeedsI like my sleep. It is a rare and precious thing. I often sleep badly, which is strange to me even after several years of sleeping badly. I blame the pesky hormones and keep hoping it will settle down, but so far it hasn’t.

Last night was my second night in a hotel room overlooking City Square in Leeds. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a fine room with a fine view. I’m quite fond of City Square. In December it has a massive tree with sparkly lights, and sometimes Occupy protesters around the bottom like a modern Nativity. (Take that, St Paul’s, with your eviction notices!) In milder weather, if there is such a concept north of the Watford Gap, there are hanging baskets with pretty flowers looking pretty as only pretty things can. Often they are pink, and none the worse for it.

I’m looking out the window now as I write this, the sky greying and the buildings awash with yellow spotlights shining upwards and dawn shining downwards and streetlights filling in the gap in the middle. It’s 7.30 already and busy and soon I will venture down into the sleepy, shuffling commuter crowd to stride purposefully to the office.

City Square has bicycle lanes criss-crossing it as well as a wild tangle of bus lanes and normal roads in a bewildering one-way system, and lots of different traffic lights and many , many pedestrians so confused by it all that they simply wander where they will at great personal risk. Taxis erupt from the station in all directions like champagne from a vigorously shaken bottle splattering everyone in its orbit. Buses chug and wheeze and occasionally glide along the central, bus-only, roadways. Busy, busy, busy.

It’s all well and good at 7.30 on a Friday morning. It’s a work day and a school day and a doing day. When I toss and turn in my bed at night, missing home, gnawing at a work problem, wondering if my alarm is set and checking it for the third time, I expect a bit more peace and quiet. City Square does not oblige. Sometimes there are sirens for dark, night time emergencies. Last night there was singing.

I lay and listened to the inebriated group of gentlemen singing as they staggered through the square. It felt like they were under my window, serenading me. I am sure the other guests enjoyed the concert as much as I did, way up on the 5th floor. But I was proud of myself, because I was awake for other reasons so it wasn’t their fault and I did not blame them for disturbing me. Rather I thought to myself:

“There’s some pretty good harmony and two part singing going on there; that’s quite impressive given how drunk they are.”

They sounded like they were happy, and happiness is not a bad thing to be heard, even at 3 o’clock in the morning. They eventually found their way out of the immediate vicinity, hopefully in the right direction and not to the canal (unless they were Yorkshire Gondaliers I suppose). I turned over (again) and tried to relax (again) and this time I did. So they sang me to sleep after all, bless them.

Namaste.

Dawn

I went to catch the bus yesterday morning, in the small, wee hours, stumbling down the village with suitcase and laptop and handbag, fiddling in my pockets for my gloves, checking my train ticket for the umpteenth time, checking my purse for change for the bus fare. You know the general confusion and fumbling of early morning starts.

I reached the road and got ready to cross over, and suddenly became aware that I could see the bus stop.

I know, my dears, that this might not sound like such a surprising thing. Bus stops are usually fairly noticeable, by their nature being designed to draw attention to themselves for the sake of bus drivers and bus travellers alike. A bus stop you couldn’t see would be a sorry excuse for a bus stop. It would fail to fulfil its basic purpose, which is to designate a place where buses, well, stop.

That is not of course quite what I meant. EBL is not entirely senile yet. What I meant was that I could see the bus stop from a distance without the aid of artificial light. This was not because I had consumed an unusual quantity of carrots, but rather because the sky was less inky black and more pearly grey than has been its habit over the winter months. In other words, and with great fanfare, EBL is proud to announce Signs of Spring.

I know you will be enthralled to hear that Sigoth has been painting the guest bedroom. We are very excited to have a guest bedroom, having only now, after several hundreds of years, sufficiently ejected Offspingses to enable us to call the bedroom in question “guest”. Youngest Offspring will return at the end of March to claim it again for a few weeks, but for now it is a lovely shade of guesty blue. We are even getting new carpet to match.

The point of this apparent diversion in the narrative is that while paint was drying Sigoth opened the window to let in fresh air. We did not expire in an icy blast, like Shackleton and company huddled at the Pole. In fact we were pleasantly surprised by the almost balmy quality of the air wafting inside. More importantly we heard birds.

There is that moment, after a long, dark winter, eagerly awaited following the Solstice, when the Earth awakes and suddenly one day it is lighter and brighter and the trees have buds on their branches and the sparrows do their feathery fandango at full volume under the roof tiles, the dirty little buggers. You see them hopping about with a glint in their eye and chirping the sparrow equivalent of “D’you want to come up and see my etchings?” at any passing Sparrow Lady. There is something slightly scandalous about sparrows, especially in the spring,

As we looked out of the window and breathed in the mild, fresh air, and listened to the avian porn, we also noticed the carpet of snowdrops in the garden.

It’s somehow always the way of it, for me at least, that one day it is dark and cold and winter, and the next the snowdrops have appeared and the birds are at it like bunnies and the world is made anew. Then we have a cold snap and it seems winter is fighting back, reluctant to relinquish its supremacy just quite yet, desperately and futilely hanging on to power like a Caesar caught in the forum on the Ides of March.

Winter can protest, and send us freezing sleet and howling gales still, but it can’t argue with the dawn. So it was that I knew in my bones at last, at 6.45 in the morning, that Spring was really on its way, because the sky was grey and I could see the bus stop from the other side of the road.

 Namaste.