Monday, 8 June 2015

It’s just a restless feeling…


Call me Ishmael. Or, more appositely, Ahab, if you will: hunting the legendary – perhaps mythical – White Whale of a good night’s good sleep. Down this Main Street a man must go

…in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.

As “a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man”, at four o’clock on the first Sunday in June, as the day and the light break, what I remember most is the ubiquity of blackbirds – their insistent clucking and proud, tuneful whistling: attempting to dominate the dawn chorus with their conversations – gingerly skipping a couple of further feet away from me, as I prowl by. But I am more of a nuisance than a threat; and am mostly ignored. Not to be outdone, within reach, a robin – and, somewhere distant, a wren: remarkably powerful for its diminutiveness – puts up a very good sally of intense melodiousness as counterpoint. A great tit, in the tree by the church gate, repeats its two-tone call – a squeaky pivot seesawing in the breeze – as it hops from branch to branch, perch to perch: perhaps to hide, or gain a better vantage? Rooks chatter and natter constantly – occasionally one peeling off from the cohort; and flapping lazily and lonely towards the Edge Hills. Collared doves and wood-pigeons coo insistently; accompanied by the paranoiac clapping and flapping of wings as I near their roosts. Goldfinches twinkle both audibly and visibly in the freshening light; and their cousin chaffinches rapidly rehearse their sweet run-ups. The swifts are too busy breakfasting, and too high – too spaced out – to yet begin their compulsive screaming arguments: reserved for the evening gatherings where a pecking order of sorts is debated; but seemingly never resolved. And, finally, a running obbligato of chirps and cheeps emerges, as Tysoe’s multitudinous dunnocks and sparrows accompany me: scurrying in and out of hedges, on foot and on wing, to escape my possibly predatory gaze.

The only non-avine note – the only unreliable inflection, to my ears – is the steadfast squeak, the irregular measure, of my heavy leather boots; that is, until I stop and sit in the churchyard, and realize that there is an insistent mother-and-child bleating, too: echoing from the sheep below Old Lodge Hill. Before I can assimilate it – incorporate it into my sunrise soundscape – the clock notes the half-hour above my head. For one seductive second, there is silence: seemingly suppressing the birds’ refrain. A moment crystallized.


The sun won’t get out of bed for another eighteen minutes – officially: our hills delay its advent. However, it has been bright enough to walk easily for a while. And the Moon got to its feet four hours ago – it will set just after ten, this particular morning – a large waning gibbous, glowing, deflating, again-hoary balloon: currently almost due south, in Capricorn. How long – when it is 231,219 miles away – would it take to fly me to it, I wonder. (Being of a certain age, high amongst my heroes are Armstrong and Aldrin – but not forgetting the brave Collins, sitting alone in his tin can. So I stare: reliving them, unbelieving, setting boot into chalky, crunchy regolith; marking eternity. Were they aware of the miracle they were making? Is my globe still in my parents’ attic, marked with the Apollo 11 landing-site; alongside my grandad’s binoculars?)


The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth?”
– Herman Melville: Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

The clock marks the three-quarter-hour above my head. My quarry is nowhere in sight; but, as I return home, I know my quest will conclude with contentment.

There is an intimation of frost tarnishing the parked cars, glistening in the gleaming air; clarifying my thoughts, clearing my head. My warm breath forms fleeting wafts of fog. It is summer, though; there are no other clouds; and, like me, the rime should not be here. Its Whiteness – like the down quilt I should be wrapped in, instead of my thick, padded, blue jacket – is as vivid as the Whale’s; and just as confounding. But nothing is amiss. All is fair and faultless. All is as it should be in Tysoe… at this time… of this special day.

Sunday morning
Praise the dawning
It’s just a restless feeling
By my side

Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s just the wasted years
So close behind

Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you
Who will call
It’s nothing at all

Sunday morning
And I’m falling
I’ve got a feeling
I don’t want to know

Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s all the streets you’ve crossed
Not so long ago

Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you
Who will call
It’s nothing at all

Sunday morning…
– The Velvet Underground: Sunday Morning

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