Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

The First Blog of the Year

a crow in a birch tree

I love this crow, riding a winter gale as we had yesterday. Despite their many interesting folklore references, and their sometimes quirky behaviour, I am not so fond of them as I am of their smaller cousins, the jackdaws, but I don’t have any photos of them. They live on the cliffs of Abbey Craig, and though you can’t miss them as you walk, because they are so vocal, they keep well beyond the range of my camera skills. Crows are more co-operative!

I am more aware of the birds this week, as the weather has brightened just enough to start their territory marking. There is more song – mostly robin and great tits, and there are more blackbirds in the garden. The sparrows had scattered, because the mild winter seems to have given them access to enough food without coming to the feeders so often, but they are back now, investigating the hedges for likely nesting sites. There is the first spring growth on the honeysuckle and southernwood, and I have begun the spring tidying. The first snowdrops are up, but not open, and the witch hazel is in full flower. This will be my first herb of the month in my newsletter.

I am still processing the upheavals of the election, the Australian fires and the situation in the Middle East. We are living in very strange times, where the proceedings in parliament might well be reality TV for all the connection they have to real life. It is a kind of fantasy politics, creating threats and enemies where there aren’t any, and oblivious to actual consequences. Every aspect of our communal life seems to be a target for government attack – I try to keep calm, because these things need legislation and implementation, and this will take time – but we don’t know where it will strike first, keeping us all in a state of terror. It’s as if the government is playing Russian roulette with the economy, the constitution, the judiciary, the media, the welfare state.

There is one threat which has sneaked under the radar. Priti Patel has launched a consultation to strengthen police powers against roadside Travellers. It looks like an attempt to find out how much harassment of the Traveller/Roma community the government can get away with. I first made contact with the Travelling People in Scotland via this event: a celebration of the Tinker’s Heart in Argyll, which was granted monument status in June 2015, thanks to the work of Jess Smith. I was very proud to be given a sticker with the logo of the Travelling Community on it, which is in pride of place on my briefcase, and since then I have been interested in their history and culture, and appalled by the hostility they experience on a day to day basis. It is quite difficult to know how someone with so little connection can appropriately respond to what looks like overt persecution, but I am determined to do what I can. If there are any traveller-led campaigns to resist this initaitive, I will support them and share news and links here. Please take an interest, and give help where you can.





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