meglycinessnip Brexit blame, Autumn skies, Autumn flies, things that jump, Avian chums and natural mysteries. “It’s all part of me Autumn almanac…..”


One of the outfits I contacted with a view to renting out the house here next year joylessly blamed Brexit on his bad season this year. Most people book French holidays before or during the previous winter, but when I pointed this out to the chap, he said “Yes but it’s  looking even worse next year”.

“So,” I ventured, “are you blaming Brexit for what hasn’t happened yet, or for what happened six months after they’d booked anyway?”

“Both,” he replied.

I did try and argue that the UK media had told their readers France was underwater earlier this year, and that M. Hollande had been a bit of a drama queen about the security situation as regards heads being removed from bodies.  I suggested that braindead Forex traders were responsible for the valuation of Sterling. But he wasn’t to be dissuaded. Anyway, he won’t be earning anything from my house

As I wrote on the day of the Brexit result, everything from now on will be blamed on everyone who voted Brexit. That and the odd murder here and there.


Autumn is now officially here. Everywhere there is the evocative smell of woodsmoke, as hundreds of residents ignore the law on garden fires and get rid of their deadwood. The sky has turned, in the mornings, to that shade of blue suggesting some celestial artist spilt water on the painting during the night. But above all – having had the flies that examine your nose, the flies that bite your ankles, the wasps that sting your earholes and the beetles that run hourly kamikaze raids on the window – the real sign of Autumn’s arrival is always The Things that Jump.

The jumpers are variously green, brown, big, small and black. Some of them jump as a form of vertical take-off prior to flight, and some of them simply to leap quickly from one place to another. But they all look like the aliens in Quatermass & the Pit, and they all jump all the time. By around the first week in October, the temperature notches down another few degrees, and they all stop jumping. This is a result of them being dead. Their existence consists of being Olympic long-jump and polevault athletes for a month, followed by death from exposure. Theirs seems a pointless existence, but doubtless if they all died off forever we would be extinct within a decade. He’s a rum sort of cove, your insect world.


It’s hard to imagine having an insect for a pet. You know, you keep him in a little matchbox, then when bullies set on you, you open the box and yell “Kill!” But we can establish a degree of relation and even common language with pretty much everything from gerbils upwards.

Take my two avian buddies Percy and Pam, the ring-necked doves. I thought they were pigeons at first, hence the alliteration of their names. On discovering my error, I could’ve changed their names to Rambo and Ronette Ringtails, but somehow it doesn’t work quite as well. So Percy and Pam they remain.

They’ve been raising their young here for at least six years. But what’s become clear over time is that, as I work on different bits of the property, they follow me around. It really isn’t my imagination: when I cut the grass north of the pool, they sit on the telephone wires to keep an eye on things. When I cut the grass to the west of the main house, they perch on the old swings. When I’m shifting thumping great lumps of clay around by the new barn conversion, they sit on the power supply cable.

Round the back of the barn, there’s one of those circular washing lines that go all wonky  after a few years and look like some kind of fiendish intelligence test. Yesterday I was pegging out the washing, and when I turned round there was Pam – no more than two feet away – sitting on a branch just above my eye level.

The desire to explain what I was doing may confirm the longheld view of many Sloggers that I’m perhaps a mad idiot, but at any rate it felt natural to me. “Look,” I’d say, “You have feathers, we have clothes. Trust me, feathers are better”.

One has to remember that birds are, to all extents and purposes, an earthly species that is nevertheless the nearest we’ll get to chatting with extra-terrestrial life. They are, to be blunt, flying dinosaurs that decided leather coats were not conducive to stable flight. They hail from a time long before we were around. We have DNA closer to fish than birds. That’s how far removed from us they are.

I can’t deal with people who anthropomorphise their pets. But faced with a pigeon trying to get closer – ah, now that’s interesting. So I just made pigeon noises and spoke softly. Every now and then she cocked her head. At one point I was within six inches of her, but then she edged back along the branch a little. Not in a panicky manner, just sort of playing safe for the time being.

This morning I stepped outside to test the temperature first thing, there was a cuckling noise in the hedge, and Percy and Pam flew out to take up their positions on the telephone wire. I wonder if I’m like watching the telly for them.


This last bit isn’t meant to be me being a quasi-scientist. Such an admission on my part behoves threaders of a terrifyingly Aspergers science nature not to comment to the effect that I’m a moron who knows nothing. As I’ve said before on such matters, I am interested in responses from real people who know something, not dickheads who erroneously claim to know everything.

The summer now ending has me asking the following questions:

  1. Why have such high air temperatures still left the pool temperature below 24°C for 95% of the time?
  2. Why in the midst of high-pressure did the clouds have undersides that said “low pressure”?
  3. Why was the heat less than last year, but the ground cracked more?
  4. Why have thousands of butterflies suddenly hatched out at average daily temperatures of 22°C in September that didn’t do so at 28°C during August?

Nature both mystifies and fascinates me when I can’t figure it out. So if you have something positive to offer in the way of enlightenment, please do so.


Earlier at The Slog: Janet Yellen’s airing cupboard economics