“Sumer is i-cumin in—, Lhude sing, cuccu!”
I started June at 4.30am and went to check my moth trap. All except 7 moths were tucked up under their duvets as I should have been.
Hard to believe but as a child my parents thought I should have voice lessons. This unlikely scenario arose because my father had been an exceptional boy soprano, who was broadcast on the Third Programme. My brother had been a more than competent chorister. He won a scholarship to the Cathedral School. So, my parents reasoned, I should have inherited the talent. And so it was that every few days I would go across to 18 Dormington Drive, where my singing teacher would sit at Ve Bevan’s piano and train me. The book, I recall, was pink. And there were two songs that remain ground into my hippocampus. When daisies pied and violets blue was one. I suspect Shakespeare might have considered my rendition akin to the slaying of Duncan. The song that dare not be mentioned. The second was Sumer is i-cumin in— Lhude sing, cuccu! I don’t actually recall it being spelt in this way but it may well have been. Which is rather a circuitous way of getting to the point that Summer seems to be anything but i- cumin in. The max/min thermometer told me we had scraped about 7c minimum overnight. And the day has remained cloudy, chilly and now blustery and rain-sodden. There was sunshine. Long enough for the dog to venture outdoors, shake herself and bolt back to the orangery. The dog, like my voice, refuses to be trained. On the command ‘sit’ she gives a haughty shrug of her canine shoulders, sniffs and does as she jolly well pleases.
To give you an idea of how exciting my day has been I can reveal that I spent most of the morning with my new best friend, the scorpionfly. Another offence under the trades description act as the scorpionfly does not sting and, despite the reference book assertions to the contrary, it looks as much like a scorpion as I did to Aled Jones as I stood beside Ve Bevan’s piano. I discovered quickly enough that my NBF was of the genus Panorpa. There are 3 species of Panorpa in Britain & Ireland. The males can be separated (at a push) if you examine their naughty bits under a magnifying glass. Its all about the genital callipers apparently. The female of the species is less fortunate. She has to undergo the indignity of being put under a microscope to check the shape of her ovipositor. When this was revealed to me I decided enough was enough and I let my NBF go.
It did occur to me that scorpionfly sexing might be the ideal way to keep bored children occupied during Les Grandes Vacances. I often see desperate pleas from distraught mothers seeking divine inspiration as to how Justin and Thyme might be kept from another 6 weeks of PlayStation 42. Here is the perfect answer whilst we are waiting for Summer to arrive at which point Hobson the gardener can fling wide the gates and open the cage door, allowing Justin and Thyme to escape into the meadows and streams of late 19th century bucolic Kensington. Justin Thyme indeed.
And just to spice things up a little perhaps we could throw in a real scorpion or two. In the meantime I have switched off the moth trap and have decided to turn back the clock 50 years and my shower song tonight shall be Sumer is i-cumin in— Lhude sing, cuccu . Feel free to join in.