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Spot the flycatcher

PUBLISHED: 08:21 24 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:57 02 March 2010

OH well - the nights have started drawing in now…

It's been a big week for Britain, what with Andy Murray's emergence as the next bearer of our tennis hopes; Paul Collingwood's record-breaking performance with bat and ball against the might of Bangladesh; and David Beckham revealing his new tattoo.

OH well - the nights have started drawing in now…

It's been a big week for Britain, what with Andy Murray's emergence as the next bearer of our tennis hopes; Paul Collingwood's record-breaking performance with bat and ball against the might of Bangladesh; and David Beckham revealing his new tattoo. But it could have been even bigger.

Apparently, according to some strange and sad souls of the fruitcake tendency, the solstice just passed was meant to have marked a big change in our lives. Not quite the end of the world, but a major catastrophe in our existence.

For Tuesday should have been the day the earth flipped on its axis, depositing Suffolk roughly where the Egyptian pyramids have been up until now.

Mind you, with the weather we've been enjoying these past few days I couldn't totally rule out the possibility that just that might have happened.

It wouldn't be good news for the garden, of course. Nor for the squirrels in our oak tree, or the blackbirds nesting in the fremontodendron right outside our back door.

And heaven knows what it would mean for the spotted flycatcher that has been so assiduously bringing up its baby right outside our kitchen window.

This deliciously pretty and pointy little bird arrived a few weeks ago from sub-Saharan Africa, where it will presumably be taking its young one to spend next winter.

Much as I fear the effects on humankind of climate change and other potential environmental disasters, I fear them too for the other creatures that inhabit this lovely planet.

(I nearly wrote “this lovely planet of ours” there - which just shows what a proprietorial lot we humans are. Unlike many people - maybe a majority - I don't really believe we are the proprietors of the earth. If we are, we really ought to take better care of our property.)

If all goes well, the little flycatcher so lately hatched should live for around nine years and make the trip between Suffolk and Africa 17 or 18 times. I wonder how much its homes, at either end of its great migration, will change in that time?

And I wonder what those folk who so confidently predicted global disaster have to say now their given date has been and gone?

Have they been back to their extra-terrestrial friends to give them a ticking-off?

Will they admit they got it wrong? Or will they put it down to a mere miscalculation in the calendar and reschedule the cataclysm for another date?

Meanwhile, all promises to be far from normal down in Glastonbury this weekend.

The old Somerset town, of course, is very dear to the hearts of the kind of folk who might believe in aliens warning them of shifts in the earth's polarity.

It holds a position of importance not far short of Stonehenge and Avebury in the minds of those who care about things like ley-lines and solstice rituals. (And I'm certainly not mocking those gentle folk, who include some very dear to me.)

It is supposedly where Joseph of Arimathea planted a cutting from Christ's crown of thorns, which still blooms at Christmas. And if you believe that, you're probably up for the Holy Grail nonsense and world-twizzling ETs too.

These days, though, Glastonbury seems to have become best known as the site of an annual music festival - now available to a worldwide audience through TV, internet and radio.

Some of my favourite musicians (Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello) will be at Glastonbury this weekend, along with some I can't stand (Coldplay, White Stripes, Chas 'n Dave) and plenty I've never heard of.

But what's unusual about this year's festival is what won't be there. Mud.

Glastonbury on hard, baked earth? Now that really is a twist on the natural world order.


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