Thursday, July 04, 2013

On the wall, l'esprit de l'escalier and ritual

Not everyone likes pigeons.  Flying rats is what pigeon detractors call them. For me they have a beauty all of their own. Look at the wing feathers soft yet etched into the curve of the back and breast like scales when the wing is folded. They are comical it is true. If they were human you might say pompous. That unblinking eye is rudely quizzical, the expression of the beak distinctly superior.

Grove Avenue is one of the little roads that leads up to The Grove from  the High Street. It is fairly steep, but it is not so much to regain my breath when I reach  the entrance to the little park as to enjoy the familiar view: the oaks, beeches and chestnuts, the benches and old fashioned street lamps; children on bikes and dogs bounding after balls. Stopping there with my shopping  is something I do almost every day, winter and summer, sunshine or rain. As I pause this morning woman with an antipodean accent greets me with the single question. "Are you lost?"
"Saved",  I say as I walk away. Alas only an esprit de l'escalier.

As I put the finishing touches to trimming our  newly reduced hedge this afternoon, I fall into the routine developed over the twenty five years during  which the hedge and I have been together. It is a question of  breaking down  the job into a number of rituals and variations which limit the monotony. So I clip the top of one section of hedge, then the side. Sweeping up the clippings from that section provides a pleasant change. Back to clipping the next section, another change. Section by second  the treatment continues, a litany rather than  a chore, something to look back on with a measure of satisfaction.

2 comments:

Roderick Robinson said...

The beak seems almost too delicate for the rest of the structure.

You keep your prejudices well hidden, to the point where I believe you lack them altogether. A sort of workaday saint. But hist - what have we here? Was your response (which might well be described as dismissive) the result of detecting an antipodean accent? For shame if it was. My apologies if it wasn't.

Joe Hyam said...

No. The accent was coincidental, a detail no more. I didn't need to exercise prejudice being touched in many ways by her concern. Perhaps that spiritual "If I can help somebody as I pass this way ..." was going on in her head.