It has struck me recently that birds were were not as much around in the vegetable garden as they have been . Today, I stop for a moment after beginning, in a desultory way, my Autumn clearing and digging. I pick up my camera just in case and look around at the lettuces, rocket and mustards gone to seed; the bean poles, still dense with leaves but stripped of beans; and the general sense of riot and waste in the untidy beds. Suddenly a robin appears where I have been digging. Before long the old apple tree in the next door garden has two or three blackbirds attacking the fruit, then blue tits and great tits appear. A pied wagtail next. And a jay. I realize that, just by standing still and fading, as it were into the undergrowth, I have allowed the birds to return to the domain from which I have unintentionally excluded them by my presence.
My favourite character in A La Recherch du Temps Perdu, and possibly in all literature is Marcel's grandmother. This morning, I noted with a surge of fellow feeling: " For naturalness was the quality which my grandmother preferred to all others, whether in gardens, where she did not like there to be, as in our Combray garden, flower beds which were too formal, or in cooking, where she detested those dressed up dishes in which you can hardly detect the the foodstuffs that have gone to make them..."
Across the road from the jeweler's shop in the High Street, there is usually a burly security man on guard. Today I notice that he appears to have a string of pearls behind his ear. On closer inspection I realize, with some relief, because it would be sad to see a stereotype, so bizarrely out of character, that the adornment is one of those expanding, curled cables which leads to his telephone and alarm.