Sunday, 22 April 2018

battery bats (22/April/18)

my garden’s a battery… full of bats… wheeling and dealing the final blows to moths and craneflies, midges and storm flies… ah yes, storm flies, so-called as they herald and are omens of impending storm, or rain at least… should be called muggy flies for they only ever seem to emerge when the air grows decidedly uncomfortably sticky muggy… how do bats manage not to crash into branches and walls and all the other static and solid obstacles peppering their hunting grounds, like my garden… if I was a bat I’d be a hopeless one, inevitably colliding with trees and comically sliding down the bark wearing a halo of even tinier bats spinning around my dazed batty head… not to mention I don’t particular like moths, to eat that is, I’ve nothing on a personal level against them, after all they have some of the bets names in the natural world but as appetisers not so much…… I once found, or rescued, a long-eared bat from a demolished outbuilding, it had been sleeping, roosting, hibernating more like behind a rotten wooden baton, snug as a bug in a rug… or a bat in a baton… It was still early March, not exactly normal flying time for bats unless it’s a particularly early spring which that years wasn’t… still at least half-asleep, the bat that is, I found a shoe box, filled it with newspaper and shreddings, placed it in another shed nearby with plenty of exit points high up safe from any possibly predators… for two weeks I kept an eye on it and all the while it seemed to sleep, or hibernate, or could well have been half-dead for all I knew, being it was barely breathing… although that’s normal for hibernation… after two weeks I was almost giving up when it finally shivered itself awake and eventually, phew, took flight on a night that was just about bat-flying temperatures… and it was gone to bat another day, and night, and hopefully many more after that.

© 2018 robert greig

Saturday, 21 April 2018

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

Friday, 20 April 2018

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