Friday, January 14, 2011

shepherd's delight

Red sky at night / shepherd's delight / red sky in the morning / shepherd's warning, or so I was brought up - though why shepherds should be more delighted with fine weather than anyone else I don't know.   Because they're outdoor a lot, watching their flocks by night, as the carol goes (or washing their socks, as we lamely used to sing at Junior School)?   In any case, it was great that it stopped raining at all.    I'm intrigued by how one might know this is an English sky (from my room): the particular combination of gnarled oak - I think it's a kind of oak - and badly pollarded ash trees?   Is there anything especially English about the clouds?   Sometimes I just look at a piece of countryside, or town, and think - o.k., does that carry with it national marks of identification?   And it almost always does, even if it's just the shape of an electric pylon or junction box or a way of doing brickwork.   But sky and trees?   I think I can feel the warning signs coming on of next semester's teaching - not the Material Fiction grad course, here, but "The Changing Face of England" - yes, yes, pun intended - my C20th/21st u/grad Brit Lit seminar: I'm warming up for Wednesday, and the whole question of national identity, today best epitomised by a Waitrose carpark in the rain.

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