Saturday, 3 September 2016

On Being the Sperm Whale.

A section of the hedgerow in the lane where I live has just had its autumn trim and is looking very smart and orderly. That’s a sure sign that the cycle of the seasons is dipping into the dark time, and I realised today how quickly this summer has slipped by. I know we say as much every year, but this summer seems to have come and gone with unusually indecent haste. It seems like only a few weeks since the first spring colour appeared in the garden, and now there’s little colour left except the wine red of the sedums and Himalayan Honeysuckle to linger into autumn.

This is, of course, a phenomenon which accompanies the ageing process. It’s a bit like falling out of an aeroplane at 20,000ft. For a long time it must seem like you’ll be falling for ever, but over the last few hundred yards the ground must rush at you with alarming rapidity. So it is with life. Fans of Douglas Adams’s infinite improbability drive will no doubt get the title of the post, although I have to say that I mostly feel more like his bowl of petunias.

And talking of aeroplanes, I heard an almighty roar at about 9.45 a few nights ago. I had no doubt that it was a commercial airliner (I’m used to low-flying military jets, and their noise is quite different), outbound from East Midlands Airport about thirty miles away, flying over my house at a frighteningly low altitude. I’ve never heard anything a fraction that loud in the ten years I’ve lived here and I held my breath expecting the sound of an explosion any second. There was none, but I still wondered whether some in-flight problem had been encountered, and whether I’d come close to a sudden, fiery and very loud end. I don’t think I’d like that because, like dear old Arthur Dent, I wouldn’t want to go to heaven with a headache.

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