We need Winter, because without it we would not appreciate Spring so much.
Even so, Spring has been a long time coming to London. We had, apparently, the coldest Easter on record. But Spring did finally splutter into life, making the blackbirds sit up and scratch their arses and cough their middle of the night greetings and the warmest day of the year so far (and my birthday, coincidentally), was just last Sunday. It’s been a bit of a relief—even the wren that sings outside my window at 6 in the morning is not unwelcome (even if, occasionally, a muttered “the early worm can just fuck off” can also be heard).
Last week, I was in Amsterdam for three days on a business trip, and when I got back the cherry blossom had exploded and bluebell heads were poking up and the first batch of baby coots were peeping at their long-suffering parents.
Yesterday saw the woods near our house filled with people (and, it has to said, the occasional recalcitrant child) blinking bewilderedly in the sunlight.
And today, another regular Spring event took place—the London Marathon.
It’s always a fun event, however you wish to participate: whether running or spectating and cheering. Even a cynical sod such as myself is cheered by waving and shouting at random strangers. Somehow, the feeling from crowd-sourced happiness and goodwill turns London again into the same kind place it was last summer, when we hosted the XXX Olympiad.
(Maybe if you have a desperate urge to drive around the place for some reason, it’s not so good. But hey.)
Unlike the Olympics, the London Marathon happens every year, and every year for the past three Jenny and I have stood at the end of our road to cheer for at least some of the race. This year, though, there was a particular poignancy, and even the casual observer couldn’t help but notice the little black ribbons that many runners wore.
The British response to terrorism, or the threat of it, is an interesting one. Terrorism seems to have the opposite effect of that intended. Even the IRA bombs of the 80s and 90s just strengthened our resolve and our tea; such that a common response to 7/7 was “bunch of bloody amateurs”.
So the cheering crowds today were, if anything, even more numerous, cheerful and vocal than before; from the toddlers being scooped off the road before the arrival of the elite runners to the “Homes for Heroes”-supporting landlord from the Adam and Eve with his singular words of encouragement and dance tracks over the PA.