June 13th, 2019

Partridges

We'd never seen partridges before- at least not close up, waddling round the front garden. They were the red legged variety- which is non-native and bred in bulk for shooting. I've no idea where they blew in from. "They came because we've been planting pear trees," I said.

Actually partridges prefer not to sit in trees. They're ground nesting birds. And only fly under pressure- like when a covey of hoorays is blasting away at them with shotguns. There are those who say the text of the Christmas carol is corrupt but I think the writer was perfectly aware of the nesting habits of partridges and- as with the rest of the poem- indulging in a little mild surrealism.

Will It Be Boris Or Michael Or Andrea Or....?

I've no idea who- out of the current line-up- would make the most serviceable prime minister- and since no-one's asking me it doesn't matter.

I only note that if the lot falls on Boris Johnson we'll be treated to our most flamboyant PM since Winston Churchill.

People resist the comparison with Churchill because Churchill is "The Greatest Briton Who Ever Lived" and Boris is just Boris. But the truth that the legend obscures is that Churchill's political career- if you set aside the golden patch at the beginning of the war- was largely one of misjudgement and failure. I'm not making a pitch for Boris, I'm just saying you can't judge a person by their record.

We've been hearing a lot about the candidates' drug use: who took what and when and in what quantities, whether they enjoyed it and how sorry they now are. It's all rather silly- and I can't believe the journalists who keep pushing the question really think it matters. Gove took cocaine, Leadsom smoked weed, Boris has probably sampled everything that came his way. This marks them out as adventurous/conformist (it could be either) and entirely typical of their generation. Churchill drank too much. So what?

I'll admit a sneaking regard for Rory Stewart. His looks and manner- part boy scout, part 17th century Spanish saint- suggest that he's a serious person.

Hedging

They say you can tell the age of a hedge from the number of species it contains- one species for every hundred years- but I don't believe it. The hedge I've just been clipping contains at least four and I know for a fact that my parents planted it and therefore it's between forty and fifty years old.

The species are privet, holly, elder and bramble. I'm also seeing isolated examples of rose, hawthorn and maple. I imagine my parents will have planted privet- perhaps privet and holly- but everything else will inserted itself.

The bumble bees were very busy around it. I trust them and they trust me. I nearly cut one of them in half by mistake but missed by a wing-beat. Oops.