online: 8 june 2004
modified: 8 june 2004

7 june 2004 a summer evening

20:22 Two strangers are laughing with a happy-looking couple in the train... an unusual event at this lattitude.

I thought of the immense value of each person and of how it would be revealed should any one of us, or all of us, be threatened... for instance by a crash or a terrorist. I look at each person in the compartment and think how unusual each is.

'I'm glad I'm not a swan' (my remark after talking about the disappearing cygnets with someone sitting by pond 1).

'we're at the edge of a Spanish heatwave' (said to me by a man who was sitting beneath the trees around pond 2).

The trees are getting to look just a little bit tired. Some leaves have already fallen - green ones, perhaps bitten off by squirrels or by birds.

A magpie on a branch - it doesn't fly away as I come within 1 or 2 metres of it. Is it wounded?...

...No, it hops about as magpies do...

...but perhaps a wing is damaged...

...No, it eventually flies off and perches on the back of a seat...

...But while it was on the branch I was able to see how its legs move and how its feathers go together, and it seemed to look into my eyes...

...I've never been so close to a magpie. Has it become unafraid of people?

I'm writing this fine evening on Parliament Hill. The sun is just setting behind us as we look southeast across the city. No smog today, though it's been hotter than 25C (the BBC forecast was for 28C). The whole city is sunlit and the tall buildings at Canary Wharf are shining. The air is already cool, the sky pale blue, with a pinkish haze along the horizon, about 15 kilometres away.

The sun's now disappeared behind the trees and there's a slight wind from the northwest and a few strange-looking streaky clouds still lit by the yellow sunlight. Time to continue walking... I put on my cap and jacket and drink some water.

I walked for one or two kilometres, letting the second hand of my watch determine my direction... it took me beneath trees in the dusk. I felt restored after the heat of the day.

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