About the great railings cull…

Is it just me, or is our birdsong more intense after lockdown? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been outdoors much, any birdsong at all feels more lyrical, more jubilant than before, as if quite a few new voices have joined the chorus. Up-and-coming stars of the post-COVID world.

It’s annoying, but I still have to pause frequently on my travels, tuneful birdsong or not, usually every dozen or so steps, get my breath, then start moving again. People who see us coming move out from the pavement to the road – social distancing hasn’t disappeared, though other walkers now look marginally less terrified of each other. We nod and smile at each other. 

Hurt pride

It was a shock at first, taking on board that people feel sorry for me. Hurt my pride. Now I’m mostly just grateful that people turn out to be kind.

On the horizon are views of pink-tinged clouds, layer upon bouffant layer of lightness and loveliness. Closer to home, new leaves on beech spindles are unfurling with the spring and slowly growing up and into each other, the ground has a fresh carpeting of older leaves discarded to make way for new growth.

I feel almost – no, more than almost – I do actually feel happy, like at the beginning of a new term at university.

Keeping a grip

Today goes okay, though I feel shaky, frightened of losing my grip on Mr Zim, and him rolling off on his own.

Mark – my real husband – darts ahead of me to look back and take pictures (one of them’s posted here). The sight of the early evening sunshine makes me feel I’m maybe still a part of the living world, still have a place in it.

Zim and I get a few more houses along before I sit down abruptly on a lowish stone wall conveniently sited at just the right height. Without any railings – perfect.

Official bungling?

There’s a sorry story of official bungling and incompetence behind the denuded stone walls of Edinburgh housing. Decades ago, the council demanded all the metal in the city’s railings be taken down – so they could use it for ammunition. Good plan, it didn’t quite work out as hoped, the metal was no good for making guns, or something.

Great railings cull

But most families were too broken by all they’d endured in various wars to bother about the expense and hassle of replacing railings. So, there are lots of stopping places like this one, where I can sit and relax for a few moments. As long as I’m careful to avoid the sticking-out bits of metal still protruding from the stone slabs, left behind from the great railings cull of yesteryear.


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