By Melisseus

One Swallow

Matt Hancock is on the airwaves and politicians are bickering about lockdowns. The woeful term "partygate" is again in the headlines. The government is once more searching for a Gordian-knot specialist who can determine how to keep the six countries simultaneously in two single markets that are now separate, without creating any borders. If only we could find a leader called Alexander...

Regardless of anyone's views on the detail of any of these things - or their potential for amusement or vindication - it is just so spirit-sapping to find the same old statements coming out of the same old mouths, months or years after they first said it. It's the dead end of winter, the dead end of a parliament, the dead end of the laissez faire model of how to run a society that has had hegemony since the 1980s

I don't think we have emerged yet from the shadow of the pandemic or dealt with its traumas. The future seems to hold nothing but unfixable, frightening problems, and no-one has confidence that they know what to do. It's easier to reheat yesterday's arguments and revisit old grievances, to unite people in common resentment of some concocted 'other'. It's becoming a boring cliche to quote Gramsci, but it encapsulates how things feel better than anything else I know:

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear"

The birds know that a cold spell is coming. The feeders have become a blur of constant motion as they do their best to prepare. These guys stay out of the maelstrom and hop about in the relative calm below, easily dodging out of the way of the clumsy, waddling wood pigeons and happy to share the constant deluge of discards with dunnock and house sparrow. A lucky near neighbour gets bramblings in winter and, for a moment, I thought they might have come here, but it is just a common chaffinch - though, actually we do not see many here. Caught with a particularly large seed, he provides evidence that some things are hard to swallow

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