On Friday I had to pop up to “Big Grown-up London” as it is known in our family. Even more grown-up it was for “a meeting”. Doesn’t that sound grand? I’m not keen on grown-up things like meetings but luckily it was a small-scale affair and I soon realised that although for most of the other participants this was their 2nd meeting they hadn’t got very far and I even found myself contributing rather a lot to the proceedings.
As this meeting was just north of Oxford Circus I found myself popping into a cut-price bookshop on my way back to the tube and picked up two volumes from the “really cheap – bet you can’t find anything readable bin”.
This chirpy little volume IS about birdwatching and it ISN’T. If you read between the lines it could be about life as well. Just because you are unable to do something as well as someone else doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it and that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself. So you think you know nothing about birds? Simon Barnes begins by suggesting that you make a list of birds you CAN recognise: swan, duck, robin, magpie, pigeon. OK they’re obvious – anyone and everyone knows those. That’s the whole point. Start with what you know. Wait a minute that sounds like my English teacher speaking… So start with what you know. Once you have become intimate with the ordinary and common you WILL be able to recognise that something is rare. Anyway he doesn’t really approve of the twitcher mentality of ticking the rare off a list. He is more for appreciating bird-life in general.
I’ve almost finished this book and it’s making me want to put on a decent pair of shoes and drag someone out for a walk. Oh yes, that’s another thing, place is important but you’ll have to read the book to hear what he has to say on that subject.