I tend to gauge my joy quotient in birds - choughs, ravens, and red kites mostly, although sometimes there's delight like a bushful of spadgers or a clatter of jackdaws in a churchyard. But the same scale also measures melancholy, and to be honest, a whole red kite felt rather over-optimistic for such a drab day. I can't say this coming year fills me with anticipation either.
In fact, the best I can wish anyone is Happy New Peaky Blinders. Or Game of Thrones. Or possibly - hopefully - People's Vote.
There's always poetry, of course. Here's a poem I wrote about red kites a few years ago. It was recently published by The Blue Nib, in their latest issue. (If you're reading this and you're a poet, do submit to them, they're great.) It has an air of alienation about it that seems to suit this shabby little island right now.
Red Kites Over High Wycombe
I know they’re here before I see them
my eyes on the road, the car in front
then snatching at sky for that russet
skirl, daubs of white underwing,
riffled pinions, twisting tails.
There must be eight – no
wait – a dozen overhead.
The first time I saw one swoop
as I stood at the window of your room
I thought it an omen.
Now I know they can’t be owned, won’t be
diminished to fit my need
I’m a visitor here, shifting boxes and bags
from one drab impromptu lodging
and unfamiliar with this town,
the suburbs these natives survey
with ferocious intimacy.
When my job’s done I’ll travel back home
where red kites are rare and the air
trembles at their whistle.
Photo of a red kite by Dru Marland
This poem will be published by Indigo Dreams in my 2019 collection, The Shadow Factory.