the first note (21/April/18)

blackbird tells the robin it’s time to wake up now… robin tells the great tit there’s just enough light to alight the uppermost branches and sing… or sing-saw-sing-saw as they more commonly do…great tit tells the blue tit not to be so slovenly but get its feathered rump out here forthwith… blue tit tells the chaffinch, the stout and lazy but ever-so proud chaffinch still plumped-up in its plumagelical coat and hoping for a sleep-in after a heavy night out on the twigs… but then the wren will sure to be sure this won’t happen as it’s been there all this time, small as it is, practising its stealth below the light, below the lowest clumps of the lowest leaves rifling through the debris putting food first as there’ll be plenty of time for song later but then sounding a lyric so resounding and ever-long lasting as to knock even the burbling goldfinch off its perch busy doing impression of bubbling brooks… and they all tell the dunnock but dunnocks are dunnocks and being dunnocks and far too haughty refuses to play and pays little attention to demands that he join in the chorus to the noodling of beaks and trilling of tales of flighty adventures from yesterday and always, always, does what a dunnock will do, as dunnocks will do what they want, as dunnocks this is their way… meanwhile the chiff-chaff and willow warbler wait in the wings holding their wings to themselves for now, waiting their turn, for a gap in the looming cacophony, the chiff-chaff hoping then no one will notice they only have two notes and the willow that can’t help but long for something or other, maybe an end to its song that it’s never yet found as its melody trails in descending tones… by now there’s kerfuffle, the blackbird’s aware, there be thrushes of other kinds sticking their oar, or syrinx, into the mix, the mistle and appropriately-named song thrush, the former brings somewhat and edge to proceedings, while the latter a fluid enchantment which the blackbird can only ooze jealousy while jealously keeping its own random tunery lining the dawn… the three of them waiting, waiting to see, who’ll get their first, get the first, get the first early worm, the blackbird, the mistle, the song, who’ll be the first to snaffle a slug or a snail or wrestle the wiggly worm from its hole… not to forget that high upon high the jackdaws stare down wondering what all the fuss is about, what is this thing called a ‘song’, what is this this they call ‘singing’, what it this mellifluous rhapsody strafing the silence that leaks like the dark with each minute that bleeds into dawn… and the rooks, well the rooks, an occasional caw, one here and one there, to them it’s just all so beneath them and anyway they have got nests to build with sticks bigger than themselves so don’t have time to fritter and waste on such minstrelsy ditties, their gavottes and their fugues, sonata, toccatas, rondos, etudes, their mazurkas or serenades, ragas and reels, not least because they can’t do it themselves… and so the garden wakes, wide-eyed and shimmering, hugging the breeze and growing new leaves and all because the blackbird sang the very first note, all the while keeping an eye out for cats.

© 2018 robert greig

grexit to brexit (20/April/18)

I’ve written a lot recently about the dreaded ‘Brexit’ and the pantomime it has and continues to be since the day the word ‘brexit’ was regrettably coined, it’s a comedy of errors that will it seems run and run, like one of the TV soap operas that are well past their use-by date but continue with mind-numbing banality… a word which derives, as much as it can, from its original context in ‘Grexit’, which referred to Greece proposing and then ultimately leaving European Monetary Union, though they do remain a member of the EU (European Union), the governing body that grew out of the Common Market established in 1957 from the Treaty of Rome and morphing into the EU in 1993, a year after monetary union was enacted as a voluntary Europe-wide replacement currency union (hence, the ‘euro’) of any member State wishing to join…

phew, ok, we got that out of the way (for now), now where was I… oh yes….. the term Grexit is a catenation, albeit clumsy one, of ‘Greece’ and ‘exit’, in part as exit isn’t a Greek word but derived from Latin and now commonly an English word… Greece joined the monetary union at a time their economy was on shaky ground thinking it would bolster it but over a very short time find it ineffective, not least because taxes are anathema in Greece, so they then decided to pull out and reinstate their own currency and still their economy remains shaky, not least because taxes are anathema in Greece… a simplification admittedly but essentially so… and from this evolved the even more so calamitous catenation of ‘brexit’ and although I’m all for language evolving and being fluid this is a word I wish was never born…

… the UK, which includes Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, England and Gibraltar joined in 1973, or the Common Market as it was then, and last year in 2017, largely on the submissive whim of kowtowing to right-wing extremism and a vociferous anti-immigration lobby held a referendum on whether to remain in the EU or leave which, among a 72% turnout, resulted narrowly to leave, 51.9% to 48.1%… and so was adopted the term ‘brexit’, which sounds more like an unsavoury breakfast cereal overdosed with sugar, over-processed with preservatives and padded-out with dried milk…

brexit itself being a misnomer as it implies just Britain and not the UK, but I suppose ‘UKxit’ wouldn’t have been as catchy, as like I said previously these islands contain four distinct countries and not simply as some in other parts of the world believe is all England… and ‘brexit’ has since been expanded from its Greece origins to imply leaving the EU entirely and not just a monetary union, of which the UK has never adopted….

… the word has grown linguistically and culturally like a disease, a parasite, a divider of peoples, a behemoth of destructive proportions, and is simultaneously used as a verb, “to Brexit”, “brexiting (the act of leaving) Europe”; a noun, “a Brexit deal”; an adjective, “a Brexit approach”; even a collective, “brexiteers” (advocates for leaving)… not to mention ‘brexititis’ (Brexit as seen as an illness, likely terminal), and ‘brexitologist’ (one who studies Brexit)… although I did make up those last two, but they could be……

… writing about it is like a purging, trying to get my head around the whole Brexit sham(bles), at the same time I feel my whole being groan and ache and crumble inwards at its pyroclastic momentum and corrosive fallout… it’s like trying to contain a jack-in-the-box as this tiny word is turning increasingly synonymous with immigration, intolerance, racism, insularity and worrying nationalism… worry not dear reader, not all my blogs from hereon in will be so burdensome, now time for coffee… … …

© 2018 robert greig

first the gulls (30/March/18)

first the gulls
and then the planes
but I don’t mind the gulls
jigs and reels upon my roof
wearing hob-nailed boots
but the planes, oh the planes
what a pain, oh what a pain
they can go away I say
go away, go away
and don’t come back another day
far away,
away,
away……

but that’s enough verse for now, can’t go all rhyming on you, things to do, people to see, place to be… actually, not much, no one, and probably but no idea where…… seems they’ve started flying again after a brief respite following a Red Arrows jet crash here not a mile from my house… one died, the pilot survived… but even 9/11 couldn’t keep the planes out of the sky for long, which I of course remember well and it was the immediate aftermath that was more intensely eerie when the skies suddenly went quiet, empty of vapour trails, not a plane glinted against the blue, not an afterburner trailing noise and spent fuel clawing at the great blue yonder… it was silence, and only then did I realise what it’d be like without them at all, and how much the air up there is riven with them now……

… it’s the Big One folks, start of Easter, Good Friday, means little to me but to others it’s a keystone date for when as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, the season really finds its feet, and when chocolate bars seems to grow disproportionate to the size of the shop shelves that they perch upon… really?… how big do they need to be, some are almost the size of me and I’m 6 feet tall…… ‘tis a chocoholics nirvana… or in my case curse, being one to some extent which is why generally I don’t buy any as if I do I’ll eat it, which I know is the point but, but, for me it can be too addictive levels which is not a good thing… in fact, I go so far as to say it’s a bad, bad, very bad thing (ouch! trumpfoolery)… so my days of eating chocolate Easter eggs the size of my head are long over, though I did enjoying rolling them down hills and smashing them against rocks or other eggs…… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do know how to have a good time don’t  I……… egg rock!… I’m sure there’s a dance I can invent for it, like crocodile rock but without the crocodiles……

… but you do have to be prepared when going out and about around here, as in the aforementioned “places to be” part of the conversation, in that you need a strong bladder as all, or most and increasingly the remaining public conveniences have been closed, locked and disused, left to rot, become cafes (bizarrely), demolished for unaffordable housing and sold off by a small-minded, incompetent county council, a staggeringly stupid approach for an place that encourages and promotes tourism….. still, there’s plenty of hedgerows, and lamp posts…

I will end today on a tiny verse…

what kind of bird
can lay a chocolate egg?
although it might be lizards
or could be even wizards!

© 2018 robert greig