The ninth of May, 2011: we might as well not be here

The swifts have returned to north Leeds. They are arrowing noisily through the midge-rich air above my house as I write. This gives me an excellent excuse to quote myself – an extract from my terminally unpublished novel Trivial.

There were swifts up above. Swifts are doing very well, these days (thanks). They’re outdoing swallows, because, while swallows hawk for mayflies and so on at about knee-height and are therefore liable to be inconvenienced when someone throws up a block of flats in their hawking-grounds, swifts occupy themselves at higher elevations, and are therefore indifferent to the throwing-up of flats or offices or whatever else – they are indifferent to streets. As far as the swifts are concerned, we might as well not be here.

Contrary to superficial appearances, the swallow is related to the swift hardly at all. It seems that the swifts really have nothing to worry about, up there – and yet continually they scream and scream.

Funny that they’ve come so far (from sunny sub-Saharan Africa) to be here. Migratory birds – with their half-lives spent in other and distant lands – always leave me feeling somehow cheated.


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