IT IS SPRINGTIME, NOT SUMMER.
by Frank Broadhurst
An hour earlier than it should’ve been.
The office was almost dead.
A tired festival of coffee yawns
In the false morning hour,
‘Daylight saving’ had reared its ugly mug once again.
I’ve found the changing of the clocks to be an annoyance for as long as I can remember, but not something to which I have paid much mind, that is until the last time the clocks went back to Greenwich norms late last October.
Since last summer, I’ve been walking home from work four out of five working days a week. It is only a four- or five-mile walk. The first few weeks were a bit of a shock to my leg muscles as I was used to either getting chauffeured to and from the office in my better half’s secondhand, fully owned car. Or a fifteen-minute walk from home to the railway station, a five-minute one-stop hop in the train, and a short 2-minute stroll to the office, and back.
I resented the fact that a return ticket costs £4, or about £80 a month. I could get a passport photo of my face taken and whittle that down to £60-odd a month, but it would mean I’d be committed to using private-public transport that is frequently 20 – 29 and a half minutes late. And I avoid car travel whenever possible.
I still get the train on Fridays. The local railway station is only small and insignificant to the many who never use it, but I get the feeling that the human portacabin ticket seller might be on the brink of being replaced by machines. The more of us who go out of our way to buy tickets from humans, the better.
But, living in a small rented semi, where the cost of the rent alone puts quite a strain on the modest household income of two, any way of reducing unnecessary monthly expenditure is a must.
One aspect of the enjoyment of walking is witnessing the season’s skies gradually change.
Last Thursday’s walk from work was the last one where I’ll see the sun sinking low and disappearing from daydreaming homeward view – until Autumn time.
I am trying to be ‘positive’ about it. My walk home is dominated by cars, main roads, by-passes, pedestrian crossings where most drivers seem to confuse amber for green, the sort of amber that causes the impatient motorist to put her foot down violently on her on-loan accelerator pedal.
Next to railway tracks and in front of a highway bypass on concrete stilts, I can stand with a relatively quiet main road behind my back, and before my eyes are at least a dozen-or-so sheep with rather sooty coats, occupying a small field that is complimented with a scattering of old trees not tall enough to hide the sight of Soviet architecture.
With the clocks now out of sync with the GMT reality I’ve been joyfully getting used to during the previous five months, I will now get a glimpse of these interesting woolly creatures at a different moment of the day. What should be late afternoon is now to be early evening.
I wonder if the sheep are affected in any way by the changing of the clocks. The first trains go past an hour earlier than normal, along with the rushing traffic on the roads that dominates their tiny muddy patches of miserable greens, boggy browns and discarded takeaway polystyrene yellows. I wonder if the sheep’s eccentric old shepherd tends to them an hour earlier than normal.
I’ve only caught a glimpse of the shepherd a few times. I never get a good look. I can only really picture muddy wellies and a high visibility donkey jacket, before he disappears into a worn blue-green Volvo of some sort, driving along the modern main road at only about 15 mph, in front of a rapidly growing queue of disgruntled drivers he steadily goes, seemingly without a care in the world other than his sheep. I shall miss the stolen early evenings of spring, in this, a British pseudo-summer-time.