Changing our tune
At last, it is here, that haunting voice which used to be
the herald of summer, but I cannot even remember when I last heard one. Who
would have thought that we would rarely hear the cuckoo these days? There are
so few cuckoos now that they are on the RSPB red list of birds which are
In my childhood the cuckoo’s song was common and he came
without fail in the early months. But yesterday I heard my first cuckoo of the
I was out for a walk in one of those deserted parts of
Shropshire where you can still be alone. And suddenly there was that song
echoing across the land. A disembodied voice seemingly without a source. I do not
think that I have ever seen a cuckoo, even in my childhood though I heard him
Now, it is June and according to the old rhyme the cuckoo
has changed his tune. It is true, it was more like a ‘cuck-cuckoo’ and slightly
hesitant, not the early confident call to announce its arrival here from South
You will know that it lays its eggs in another bird’s nest,
so of course it is dependent on its host doing well. It uses the hedge sparrow
and pied wagtail. We have both these birds nesting here but no cuckoos now, it
is a warning that something has gone wrong.
A pheasant and a fox also appeared on my walk. The male
pheasant in his all his breeding finery was making a loud clacking noise. He
was warning that something else was wrong. A young fox sloped past. Perhaps he
was looking for the pheasant nest so he could eat the eggs. Perhaps he had
already eaten them secretly like a robber.
Once we thought only robbers wore masks, now we are all
doing it. And there are advantages – they hide wrinkles, after all we are eighteen
months older. And you can hide your real feelings. It is hard to read people’s faces.
Are they smiling under the fabric? I always used to look at faces when I was
talking to someone, especially the mouth. Now I cannot always do that.
Do women wear lipstick now, it would all come off on the
mask, surely? Instead, the materials of the masks have become a focus. It seems
that many men have opted for a black mask. It is easy and goes with a suit. Some
women have opted for skin colour or flowery material often matching their
dresses. I notice on-line shops sell them in their own distinctive fabrics. Who
would have thought that? We have all changed our tune.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)