It’s been a fairly stretched week, what with working on the latest version of our impending White Paper and Eurostarring to Brussels on Thursday for a conference with Bank Degroof. The other speakers were Jeff Grout and Peter Hinssen. Enjoyed the event – and the train rides.
On Monday, there was an F&C private view of the Rubens exhibition at the Royal Academy, fleshy but interesting, where we bumped into Tessa Tennant and her husband Bill. Then on to a dinner hosted by Jochen Zeitz in Shoreditch.
Yesterday began well when I spotted two herons flying south across our garden. Have always considered herons my totem bird, a sign of good luck, with their attitude and behaviour signalling something about the day ahead. Reading up on the symbolism today, I was struck by the long-legged bird’s role in liminal places, neither wholly of one world or another. Moving between land, water and air. An interesting distillation of the nature of much of my work – and of transitions in general, including the point at which the Volans team currently finds itself.
The heron, I discover, is also associated with longevity. With all the coverage of pensions in the media at the moment, triggered by impending changes in the regulations, I followed a link today to an online life expectancy calculator. It asked lots of questions about lifestyle and health. I put in all the bad things I could think of, and yet it still said I would live to 96. I suspect the idea may have been to encourage me to get better pension protection, but not sure how I would feel about the prospect of living another 30 years.
The website didn’t ask about dangerous pastimes, so I didn’t get to feed in cycling as part of the case for a shorter life expectancy. Around the corner from our Bloomsbury Place office there has been a column of flowers where a young woman cyclist was killed by a truck a couple of weeks ago. There have been several deaths since we moved there – and many accidents, including the one where I was hit by a cycle courier. My elbow is finally almost healed, some 5-6 months after my last accident, that one in Oxford Street, so have been pondering getting back into the swing. Have been missing the exercise.
Spent much of yesterday working on the latest round of columns/blogs, this time looking at a number of breakthrough technologies – and highlighting a new study by LIGTT. Watched the latest part in the Reginald D Hunter BBC2 series last night, Songs of the South. Gentling.
Then the bird theme continued through today, with high swirling clouds of rooks in Richmond Park this afternoon – and a flock of perhaps 20 goldfinches in our leafless apple tree early this evening. I stood for quite a while watching the rooks, thinking about some of the terms that would once have been used to describe what I was saying. That was largely because of an article I read in yesterday’s Guardian, by Robert Macfarlane, on the way in which our languages are losing words for the natural world. Looking forward to reading his book, Landmarks.
The goldfinches felt like some sort of blessing. Then I read that it is linked in Christian symbology to foreknowledge (on the part of Mary and Jesus) of the Crucifixion and the crown of thorns. Apparently, it was believed that the bird got the splash of red on its face when it pulled a thorn out of the crown around Jesus’s head. Intriguing, but I think I’ll stick with this bird as I see it.