Silver Lining

Yesterday in Kew Gardens it was a clear, cool Spring day with one of those pale blue English skies. Unlike previous visits over the past 25 years since I have lived in this part of London, you could hear birdsong not drowned out by the constant drone of aircraft a few hundred feet overhead and the sky was not scarred with their vapour trails. Every volcano has a silver lining.

We have friends stranded in Australia, Morocco and I can’t feel that sorry for them. Speaking only for myself, I could do without aircraft and wouldn’t feel my life diminished by their absence.

This morning, I was thinking about how you could put all this into words, when Carol Ann Duffy came on the radio and said it for me:

Five miles up the hush and shush of ash. Yet the sky is as clean as a wiped slate. I could write my childhood there.

Selfish to sit in this garden, listening to the past. A gentleman bee wooing its flower, a lawnmower. When the grounded planes mean ruined plans, holidays on hold, sore absences at weddings, funerals, wingless commerce.

But Britain’s birds sing in this Spring, from Inverness to Liverpool, from Crieff to Cardiff, Oxford, London Town, Land’s End to John O’Groats. The music’s silent summons that Shakespeare heard and Edward Thomas.. briefly, us.


Silver Lining by Carol Ann Duffy

2 comments on “Silver Lining
  1. Joe Coliier says:

    To err is human

    We are now told that the models used to assess the risks of flying through a volcanic plume were wrong. So, when it comes to insurance claims, was the recent ban on flying the result of an act of God or of miscalculation. The financial implications are enormous.

  2. pyroclast says:

    Perhaps the government should contemplate a permanent total cessassion of all flights in British airspace?

    But then, what would French air traffic controllers do without our holidays to disrupt any more? Or indeed how will Spanish and Greek hoteliers and bar owners survive without the flower of British youth ‘enyoying’ itself on the beaches, in the fields and in the streets and in shop doorways. No, we shall never surrender our urge to fly. It is an Englishman’s birthright!

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