pulling your leg (15/July/18)

strange and disturbing dreams, should I be surprised?… nope, when are they not one or the other… or both?…… it’s quiet… too quiet… not really, just pulling your leg, trying to inject an air of mystery, drama, whatever into this piece of prosery… ‘suppose I’ve blown that now…… “pulling your leg”, now there’s a curious idiom, its origins are still a mystery though theories abound none of which are proven and even some utterly implausible, though it may come from something to do with distraction… and anyway, I like quiet, though when I really put my ear to it it’s not actually over-quiet at all… a goldfinch is trickling away from a treetop somewhere, a car further back in the soundscape motors past, the collared dove as well coo-cooing and most likely flying his usual circle around and over the garden from one perch at one end to another, a telephone pole, at the other, keeping a watchful eye, watchful dark eyes which have a tendency to give it an expression of friendly, benign but are in fact fiercely territorial against others of their ilk protecting its patch whose edges only it can discern…… of course there’s the usual noise in my ear/ head/ somewhere inside there anyway, my internal variations on their own incessant theme… the odd jackdaw ca(w)lls too, inevitable as there are so many and even more since mass fledging…. I think I hear the sea, or might be the leaves lolling in the breeze and bothering branches or it could just be the air, the sound of air wilful and free teasing the trees, ruffling feathers, seeping through open windows… of course it’s the sound of air you dolt, how else do you think sound makes sound… and tick-tock, the subtle harangue of the clock, time vanishing, dissolving, sloughing, shedding, or even shredding….

© 2018 robert greig

swallows to woodpeckers (28/March/18)

you never know when they’re going to appear, equally you never know when they’ll be gone again… but appear they do and then vanish in a blink…… they aren’t here yet, the swallows, or at least I haven’t seen one and for me that means they haven’t got here yet from their sunnier southern climes… but they will be, like clockwork, almost, though you couldn’t set your watch by them you can set the season…… the old post office is being renovated, not as a post office but as a private house now, hence the name ‘old’ as in was… not a full time house as it turns out, so yet another half-dead property in the village…… not that it matters, not much happens here anyway, although there is the village hall, or should I say Community Hub, yet another exercise in rebranding… there’s dog training there, there is, a whist drive, been going for years, I think a yoga-type class, a body fitness class too, and the bingo, mustn’t forget the bingo… the bingo rides roughshod over all else probably because it’s been going so long it expects as sense of ownership…… Citizens Advice turns up once a month raking through the apathy of village life, and the community council talking shop meets also once a month…… it’s the polling station at election times too, complete with the same two rickety polling booths and probably the same pencils on a sting getting decidedly shorter each year…… the hole where the telephone box used to be is still empty and for anyone that never knew it was ever there wouldn’t know there ever was…… there is a bus shelter, of a sort, no seat, just a stark green metal unforgiving frame with some kind of acrylic glass on one side… open-sided to the path allowing the wind to howl through it… the other shop, what is now the only shop, at the far end of the village has been through a lot even in the time I’ve been here, on its fourth owners now that I know and is more than a bit shambolic, though not so in an endearing way, the outside resembling more a scrapyard for bits of cars, whole cars, engines, trailers, building materials, once even an old tractor sat there half disassembled… very unvillagey…… the GP surgery’s always kept busy though despite offering a limited and about 30 years out of date skill-set reluctant to catch up with changes in community health……… jackdaws are busy arranging the rookery just how they like it begrudgingly alongside the rooks…… a few trees are gone since the last storms… “and then there were none”, might be the story one day as some got removed years ago for houses, not that there was a housing need, just happened, almost like the ugly houses of old, as though they popped up overnight…… the graveyard wall looks about to fall down if someone doesn’t fix it soon, and it wouldn’t be the first wall falling down on the road here, it’s happened three times that I’ve known…… neglect’s a funny thing, so easy to do…… there’s still a post box, little ‘un on a stick, red of course…… the so-called community garden behind the hall is still there, built years ago and half-heartedly managed, still used but not often though usually by older kids as a smokers corner, out of sight out of mind…… every morning almost a train sits in the cutting, sombre rumbling resonates not intrusively, just there, stays for a while then it’s gone…… another trailer pulled by a tractor crashes past, as they do… the half-built houses still half-built, must be coming up for maybe their fifth anniversary?…. five/ six years or so since they’ve been built, got half way then abandoned, forgotten, derelict before they even had a life… vacant histories… it’s one of the few mornings a week the red Post Office van comes and sits for a few hours then leaves, perched in front of the shambolic shop gaping like a beached basking shark…… “the more things change the more they remain the same”, isn’t that what they say?…… the woodpeckers at it again, pecking, pecking wood, just as well they’re called woodpeckers then isn’t it……

© 2018 robert greig

quiet rain (15/March/18)

quiet rain… makes a change… rain nonetheless though… the jackdaws are picking their spots, it’s that time of year, prime real estate for their upcoming respective nests… they’ve not left all winter, never do, they’re always there tending their rookery, or jackery, although there are rooks there too but nevertheless it’s still called a rookery whether there are or not, much no doubt to the jackdaws chagrin… and here I am talking to the air as I do most mornings….
… the woodpeckers are drumming, being that time of year of course… rooks are carrying sticks too big for them in their bid also for the best the canopy can offer in position and height and prevailing wind… I bet they can’t wait for the leaves to burst through and give them some much-needed cover, but that won’t happen for couple of months yet… these are tall trees, tall deciduous broadleaved in the truest sense trees and in no rush to, as they say put-out… all in good time, they say, all in good time… that’s the nature, literally, of things…
… gulls are gulling, always made restless by an uncertain wind… there’s also always one, two, three maybe even four or so but it’s the wind, and sea mist sometimes so far out at sea as to not be visible from shore, that brings them forth in greater number and much more voluble… gulls don’t have a song, not being songbirds, or not as we would recognise as such, instead they have a call or cry, or more fittingly am explosion of discord, a cadence which defies any mimicry we might attempt…… in other words, you have to hear to hear it… though I do make a passing raven call and even a Manx Shearwater… oh yes, you have to hear a Manxie, as they’re affectionately known, to believe it, ideally a real one, and to stand among them in the dead of a new moon night not seeing but hearing their desperate, almost blood-curdling cries as they come to shore after having been at sea no doubt for days sometimes weeks on end with a gullet full of food for their single chick and some for their partner who has patiently waited all this time for their return and after which they swap, and the other then heads out into the great pelagic for days and maybe weeks before themselves returning which another bounty of fish… underground and overhead the earth and air come alive…
… around my head they’d fly unseen because of the darkness which is their strategy to avoid predators to flop hopelessly to earth as close as possible to their burrows (yes, they nest in burrows) and waddle uncomfortably, as they aren’t really designed for walking, to their still huddled other-half and offspring underground guided by his or her hopefully-recognised welcoming call of their partner… they also share nesting duties equally… not surprisingly they all sound the same to me so how they manage I do not know among the cacophony of hundreds of them doing it hours on end in the deepest dark…… suddenly finding myself surrounded by the woes of the dead in manic surround-sound…
… yes, it’s that time of the year…

© 2018 robert greig