Late Life Crisis - August 2018

I wrote this at the beginning of August:

"I awake to another hot and sunny day in London, and it makes me fed up.The weather sucks out one's energy, and pleasures such as a good long walk are valueless unless one moves into safari mode, heading out soon after 5am and returning by 10am. Everything is about craving the shade and minimising exertion.

Various folk have written that they will never complain again when the skies are leaden and rain is pouring. Personally I would not trust the British generally on that."

How have we done as the rain has returned? My feeling is that we have bitten our Brit tongues against the almost irresistibe urge to moan.

........

Susan Hill, writing in The Spectator, beautifully described the late UK arrival this year of swifts. They appeared to have got stuck in France - I was lucky enough to see some recently - and she questioned whether this was Brexit related. At the end of the paragraph she described them as hirundines. Despite my passing acquaintance with French and "hirondelles", I rushed online to find that hirundine means "a songbird of the swallow family".

Is use of this word precise employment of the English language, or an episode from Pseud's Corner? It would have been clumsy English to repeat the word "bird", but "creature" would have been just as good. Whatever, if next year the birds appear in North London then I may have the opportunity to exclaim to a friend: "Look at those hirundines!", although I suspect that it would go down better if said in a Johnsonian voice.

........

I feel sad that Homebase is under financial pressure. However, the following story may exemplify the company's woes:

I went in to buy a vacumn cleaner on behalf of a relative. There were apparently ten in stock, according to the website. There was one on display, but it is preferable not to buy a display item, and anyway there were a number in stock.

At the enquiry desk I asked for one. The assistant willingly went off to investigate. Ten minutes later she returned:

"Sorry sir, we don't have any."

"But your website says that you have ten in stock."

"It does, but those are all ones that have been nicked off the shelves."

"Well, why are they still showing as being in stock?"

"Because our computer system can't remove them."

I rest my case.

........

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