But of all the varieties of spring and summer weather, what I hate most are those still, humid, overcast days which always seem to be full of the song of blackbirds. The poem "Adlestrop" by Edward Thomas, written in 1915, captures the mood well:
Yes, I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
A lovely, atmospheric poem, justly famous, but I always think there must be a missing, final verse, which describes how -- in a sudden fit of heat rage -- he punched the guy with the irritating cough and then leapt from the carriage and set fire to the station. "It was that damned blackbird that sent me over the edge, Your Honour..."
We had an early blackbird day yesterday. I knew it was a waste of time going out in such weather, but felt the urge to get out of the house. I ended up slumped in my car in a layby for an hour listening to the Radio 4 adaptation of John Le Carre's Smiley's People. Perfect. Then, just for the sake of form, I trudged up and down the verge of the A3057, peering over hedges and into fields. The light was rubbish.
These newly laid poly-tunnels were almost enough to raise my spirits beyond the "Eeyore" end of the spectrum, but not quite. I'll come back another day -- maybe after some lovely rain -- and try again.