Thursday, 5 January 2012

Busy Skies


Fans of Jon Shuttleworth (Yamaha-playing singer-songwriter, alter ego of comedian Graham Fellows) will be familiar with his Eurovision-inspired song Pigeons In Flight. A rather sweet, lyrical piece of work, it is second only, among doomed Eurovision entries, to the sublime My Lovely Horse. Shuttleworth's song inevitably sprang into my head this blowy morning as, on my way to the station, I looked up to watch the pigeons tumbling in the wind. Like crows and starlings, London pigeons seem to take a real delight in flying, especially in a strong wind. Squadrons of pigeons were hurling themselves around in it this morning, along with the odd band of starlings and a few passing crows. Busy skies.
Pigeons have more elegant aerial moves too - like the courtship display in which the male claps his wings together over his back and glides downward in a long graceful curve. Wallace Stevens noted the beauty of pigeons' flight in the great closing lines of Sunday Morning - after which there is really nothing to say:
'We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.'

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