Singing Lessons

A recent post on the Transit Notes blog got me thinking about birds and birdsong. And, in a case of life imitating the blogosphere, it just so happens that something this morning woke me up unnaturally early. Half asleep, I staggered out of bed to see what was going on. On the landing, I was greeted by an excited cat and, somewhere in the air around my head, a flutter of wings. Sinbad had brought in a chaffinch. I seized the said Sinbad and shut him in the conservatory. I opened the landing window. Then I set about chasing the chaffinch. The sooner the poor thing could be set free into the sky the better. I finally caught it in the bathroom, cradling it gently in my hands. (If other members of the animal kingdom shared our intelligence I think they’d not know what to make of us: some of them we treat with extraordinary generosity and love, others we hunt down for no good reason and yet others we ship off in crowded lorries to abattoirs).

I was struck by just how small a creature a chaffinch is. It’s not often one actually holds one and one would prefer not to have to. The poor thing was so terrified that when I first held it out of the window, sat on my outstretched hand, it wouldn’t move. I withdrew my hand, cradling it as gently as I could, thinking, as I did, that if a 300-foot high giant held me in its hand however gently, I too would be terrified. I decided the best thing was simply to stretch out my hand a second time. This time it flew off.

The excitement of it all left me wide awake. I released Sinbad from his confinement. I turned on the laptop and made myself a cup of tea while it booted up. It felt like a good time to do the Guardian Quick Crossword.  (It’s become something of an obsession with me. Not only is it a good crossword but also one where one can leave comments. The comments section has become something of an online community in its own right – the Quick Crossword Club, or QCC. But I digress).

Once I’d knocked off (OK, struggled a bit with) the crossword it occurred to me that if I took my sound recorder out into the garden I could capture the dawn chorus. I returned to the laptop and got bogged down in something or other online and returned some twenty minutes later. Here’s an excerpt…

Birds are intriguing. I find it intriguing that the descendants of the dinosaurs should sing. Intriguing, too, that their songs should be both complex and yet -as far as we know- lacking in any complex meaning, as we understand the word. The songs of birds should give us pause. We have a Hollywood-created idea of dinosaurs growling in a crude, carnivorous fashion, but did they sing, too?

 

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A Desert Island Disc…

I’d quite forgotten about this orchestra until I came across a link to it on Youtube. Then I remembered. I’m sure I saw them perform this very piece live on TV many years ago. It’s certainly my favourite recorded interpretation of a piece by Richard Strauss. Enjoy.

 

Taking the Back Road

Just been out for a run. I took my camera as it’s a run I do as much for the views as the exercise. Although you can’t tell from the photographs – it was unusually busy. I passed a steady stream of cyclists, birdwatchers, horse-riders and dog-walkers. The fact it’s a Bank Holiday probably had something to do with it. Everybody needs a break…

Anyway, back to the run. Part of it is on an A road…

 

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…but it soon turns off down a road that’s been closed for years due to the risk of subsidence – further on, the edge of an old old quarry comes almost right up to the verge.

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At the top of the hill there’s the ruin of a look-out post from WWII – used to spot bombers heading for the cities in the East. Now all you can see from it are airliners heading out from Leeds Bradford airport and sheep…

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There’s still May blossom to be seen in the hedges – a good excuse to quote link to my favourite poem, by Basil Bunting.

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And so to the quarry. It’s a great haven for wildlife – especially for birds. The road, which runs along the cliff edge, is hidden in the trees and bushes on the right.

 

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To begin at the beginning…

Who reads the first post of a new blog? Not many people, I’m afraid. Perhaps ‘new’ is the wrong word. I’ve blogged elsewhere but, for one reason and another, felt like a new start. I intend to write about the music I listen to and the books I read. I’ll be posting poetry, too, from time to time. I also tend to write about hills I’ve climbed and the places I’ve been. In short, I’ll be writing about anything I feel like writing about.

I started blogging about six years ago. My reasons for doing it are much the same as they were then. I think that one clarifies thoughts by writing them down. Assembling one’s thoughts into sentences can be a humbling experience: what seemed like a daring, original thought in one’s own head can look pretty trite when it’s written down.

I can’t help but feel there should be music in a first post. No major event is considered complete without an all-singing-and-dancing opening ceremony these days. Well, singing, at least. The late Robert Wyatt seems like a good choice.