Woken by the first alarm calls at territorial intrusions, alerts and disputes of airspace and protection of nests at 04:45h.
Then disturbed again at 05:17h by shouting from a distant street. A man’s raised voice echoes through the break of day. Again from closer at 05:32, yet still a way from here. Is he heard by others? What ails him? It sounds like anger.
Is he wandering the city alone? Is someone else at risk? How did this start? How will it end, as it must?
A long walk on a mild day, up through Eaton Park and around the university broad. The floods at the university have drained away and although the pathways were a little sticky underfoot, it was pleasant enough.
Eaton Park has a huge model boating pond, which has it’s own pavilion and clock. It is an elegant structure, even if made from concrete. The whole venture was a way to create work for around one hundred men for at least three years in the post-war slump in the 1920s. The man in charge of the city’s parks was Captain Sandys-Winch.
A former artilleryman who served for all four years during World War One and then in the Army of Occupation in Germany in 1919, he organised the development of Norwich’s public parks. During this pandemic his work is gratefully appreciated by the current generation of citizens, even though very few of them will know of his efforts to provide healthy recreational spaces in Norwich.
One aspect of the Captain’s work was to organise the planting of an estimated 20,000 trees around Norwich. As a captain in the artillery for four years he would have been personally responsible for the destruction of countless trees on the Continent, so this rebalancing of nature is something to be admired.
He was not only committed to the gainful and healthy employment of local demobbed soldiers, the development of 600 acres of public parks and open spaces for the citizenry, but also a respected expert on growing daffodils.
At the broad at the UEA campus there were various pairs of distinctive birds. The brilliant white of the little egrets were hanging in the willows on the west side of the water, while in middle of the water a pair of great crested grebes were resting their elegant necks on their backs, possibly watching each other with one eye half-open.
There was a suggestion that they were contemplating starting one of their complex courting dances. The pair were floating at a distance, but facing prow to prow and displaying mirrored body language to each other. It was quite cool by the broad, so not a day to wait and see if they would dance this afternoon.
There is a recent sculpture in the willow beds of the broad, The Man of Stones. He looks as if he has stepped from a unpleasant early death in the marshland. His eyes shut, he carries large flints tied to his body. He is a grotesque figure. Constructed by Laurence Edwards, this is a controversial artwork. I think that it is strikingly ugly. I am not sure who at UEA wants this disturbing apparition lurking in the reeds of the broad, or why, but its grotesque form is unpleasant. Like the cast iron figure standing on the parapet of the library building, these ghostly figures seem to have been positioned in such a way as to cause alarm in half-light, rather than inspire. They look like immature artistic provocations, for all the craft that went into constructing them.
Robins were happy to appear right by the footpath at chest height in the bushes. Every now and then a wren would rush by and dart into the undergrowth. Back on the way to town at the Colman Hospital there were numerous snow drops in flower and some daffodils preparing to open.
On the way out to the university site there were four of the hospital staff taking a cigarette break on the footpath. No, I do not understand it either. The four women did not look as if they were particularly well paid members of the team. They work at what is the city’s rehabilitation hospital and were enjoying a natter in the previously fresh air.
The butcher’s on Unthank Road has suffered a determined attack. It looks as if it has had a sledgehammer taken to its plate glass window. I will leave you to speculate as to why this might have happened.
Around the country there is increasing anger about the Prime Minister’s statement that his government “…did everything they could” to protect the population from the pandemic. The facts and 102,000 dead people suggest otherwise.