Over much of the lawns here now, there is a mixture of yellow and light brown confetti. The Schumach trees still have some green, but it’s turned noticeably pastel, and the bright red of last week has calmed down somewhat to more of a watercolour orange. The sky’s blue has a washed-out, almost insipid look to it; but as the dying sun heads ever earlier for the horizon, there are pink flecks in the cirrus that give them the appearance of candyfloss.
Everything is dripping. Autumn is like that, especially in the mornings: it drips from trees, bushes, and at the moment from my nose – the chief symptom of a light head-cold that descended upon me late last Saturday afternoon.
This morning an uninvited guest came onto my land: a very large adult coypu. To the French, he is M. Le Ragondin – introduced into France 130 years ago for its fur, and now considered a pest. And there we have yet another arrogantly hypocritical attitude of our bonkers species: we introduce animals to breed them for clothing, but due to our negligence they escape – and then fur becomes politically incorrect. So they are a pest. I would rather conclude that we are a menace. A menace of meddlers, in fact. There, see: we’re only three paragraphs in, and already I’ve invented a new collective noun. It is the unique Slog effect.
Anyway, I like coypus: they eat everything we don’t want them too, but they’ve always struck me as good eggs. A decade ago – when I was still a keen cyclist – I used to love passing their rivers and lakes in the late Spring, watching them basking in the morning sun, clouds steam rising from their glossy coats. This year has been uncommonly dry, which might explain the arrival of a stray here; perhaps he sniffed the water in the pool. That’s not as daft as it sounds: many years ago I returned from a bike ride, and as was my wont headed for the pool….only to find an unabashed coypu knocking out some lengths. He did leg it rather swiftly on spotting me – baring some teeth in the process – but I was too busy laughing to be that concerned about natural animal aggression.
The other very obvious arrival at the moment is the robin. The little dots of red flit about all over the garden at the minute, belting out their very distinctive chirrup at regular intervals. It is truly amazing to watch them through field glasses making that call: the beaks open so wide you expect their heads to split open. I did a bit of research yesterday and discovered that the old English name for them was robinet. This is the modern French name for a water tap. I wonder if this is a coincidence or genuine etymology: if anyone knows, the email to send to remains firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today it became clear that Home Secretary Theresa Mayormaynot will introduce extremism disruption orders to stop individuals engaging in extremist behaviour. The main worrying thing about May’s orders is that they remain very vague indeed on the definition of extremism.
Truth be told, I think Theresa missed her way. She was born five hundred years too late. She would’ve been far better suited moving among mediaeval Popes in order to condemn all inventors, philosophers, scientists and artists to death on the basis of extreme views about flying machines, infinite universes, gravity laws and perspective respectively.
Theresa May, David Cameron, George Osborne, Dan Hannan, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Tom Watson, Donald Trump, Pope Sixtus IV, Milton Friedman, Michael Foot, Theodore Levitt, Wolfgang Schäuble, Jacob Zuma, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Benn, Thomas Hobbes, Mao Tse Tung, Adolf Hitler, Lenin, Hendrik Verweord, Jacques Delors and Charles I share one commonality: they all believed/believe in settled science. As there is no such thing, their thinking system will always represent a mortal threat to creativity, liberty, and indeed the survival of the species itself.
In a series of related essays, I hope to expand on this theme over the next few days.