At 4:04 this morning one flew over with a sound like rolling wind, not loud, but with noise spreading outwards as it crossed east to west. Got up for a pee and looked at the ice crystals on the uppermost Velux, so pretty and precise around the edges like torn crafting paper. An uncontactable schooldays friend at the time (2003) I was responsible for the creation of ice in beer served at -2.5° was in the maths-driven business of preventing ice accretion on aircraft wings; a nice balancing act made nicer by him being in Australia then. Opposite world.
Today is March 21st, and the day in the song ‘A Town With No Cheer’, by Tom Waits, from Swordfishtrombones (1983). This song is like a birthday song, and one I’ve associated for years with pouring rain – the legacy not so much of a mis-heard as a confusion of it and where I was in 1993 when I became so obsessed with it and its line about the hummingbird:
There’s a hummingbird trapped in a closed-down shoe store
Which, if we were choosing, would be – well – everything as massive and minute that it is.
But the confusion, or cleaving, is in the weather of March 21st; where I’ve long substituted boiling (high-noon sun beats a hundred and four, in Serviceton, Victoria) with raining of Leeds, West Yorkshire; so that ‘it’s raining in a miserable March 21st’ has become a lyric truer and older than what he beautifully sings.
I wrote away for Agnes Winson’s Will (her being the longest resident of our house), and read that on her death in 1895 she bequeathed:
the fixtures, benches and tools in my shop and slaughterhouse unto my son Ernest William Winson absolutely. I bequeath my household goods, furniture and effects unto my son John Winson and my daughter Clara Winson, to be equally divided between them. But err that my large clock and my barometer shall be included in the share of my son John.
The family descendant we invited around said the barometer was famous in the family history; never lately seen but known as being huge and in our hall. Where Agnes would have checked the weather every morning.
© Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane