Starlings are back in the Grove. I hear, rather than see them as they gather in one of the trees. What is the collective noun for starlings? In a book which I had as a child there was a list of collective nouns, among them "murmuration" for starlings. Seeking to confirm this, I find the word in the The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. But there, it only signifies "murmuring", and its usage appears to be confined to "late Middle English". No mention of starlings. But my childhood reference and memory are vindicated by Chambers, which calls it a "doubtful word for a flock of starlings". All the same, murmuring is rather an understatement for the noise the birds make when they gather - a sound higher pitched and more raucous than what normally passes for a murmur.
There is a tall, elderly man of upright bearing who wears an overcoat and a tweed cap. In the summer I have seen him in an old, military beret worn in the army style pulled down over one ear. He is to be found, most afternoons at the entrance to Calverley Precinct, across the road from the hideous Millennium Clock. Here he performs a slow and meditative march, to and fro across the width of the Precinct, his eyes straight before him. He walks so that his heels, hit the ground first, a little before the rest of his foot. It is a sort of slow march but not ostentatious. He is performing for himself and not an audience, in the parade ground of his mind.