Greetings from a Scotland visited by a swan with bird flu. So far it doesn’t appear to have spread, but we are watching and waiting. My cats have been shut inside the house for several days now and they are not pleased. They look longingly at the sun streaming through the windows. I say to them “no – better off inside for a while,” but of course they don’t understand. What could be evil about fresh air, warm sun, green grass and butter-yellow daffodils? Yesterday there was a sudden swirling storm of starlings around the house, pecking and fluttering, and the cats gazed eagerly from the sofa.
With my new hearing computers turned up full, I am listening to my War of the Worlds CD. It’s everything I remember – strong stuff with thrilling, soaring notes, a deep narrative voice and a great beat. My cat Sharky is listening to it too, for the first time in his life. He is purring and has crawled into my lap to stare at my face. This CD is perfect – reminds me of when I played the record as a teenager.
“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one,” he said
The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one
But still… they come!
Now here’s one of my favourite tracks – it used to sough through our house in Edinburgh when my father was still alive.
I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky
And one by one they disappear
I wish that I was flying with them
Now you’re not here
Stopped here for a break. I’m not ready for Thunder Child yet.
Sensing victory was nearing,
Thinking fortune must have smiled,
People started cheering –
“Come on, Thunder Child!
Come on, Thunder Child!”
I ran into trouble in Disc Two, which embarks with The Red Weed (Part 1) and The Spirit of Man. It started quietly and is so weird and wonderful that I could only make sense of the occasional snatch of it – mostly Beth’s plaintive verses. It used to be as familiar to me as anything else on this record, but maybe it will come back if I try again later. Right now it’s just a jumble of voices and chilling chords. There’s Parson Nathaniel now, blasting forth. I’m not quite sure where he’s got to in his torrent of words. Oh, I’ve got it. “There’s a curse on mankind! We may as well be resigned!”
No, Nathaniel, no – there must be more to life
There has to be a way that we can restore to life
The light that we have lost
A bit difficult, but I’ve isolated the clear voice of David Essex from the stumbling background:
Slowly from the ashes the Phoenix will arise
In a brave new world, with just a handful of men
We’ll start all over again!
Inside the CD there are the usual beautiful illustrations, including one showing crows tearing greedily at the flesh of the dying Martians. Just asking for a futuristic outbreak of bird flu, if you ask me… but life is running its course, and they’re starting all over again.