Red Sky In The Morning

If you have never been to Britain, maybe this is your image of a British winter. All powdery snow and happy, cold-pawed doggies, a heavy hat of snow on car bonnets, lych-gates and wall … what do they call those little brick-built tower-things at the ends of low garden walls? No doubt there is a technical term.

It’s all very Christmas-cardy. Any minute now, one feels, a carriage and horses will appear, complete with overcoated coachman. Any minute now, Santa’s sleigh. Any minute now a fat robin will flutter down and arrange himself, scenically, in the foreground on a red post-box. And surely, all over Britain, there must be villages exactly like this. Surely it can’t all be wishful thinking.

When I was at school, as part of English lessons, they used to occasionally attempt to teach us creative writing, only it was disguised as Composition. (Editing was disguised as Précis, and proved much more useful in later years than Composition.) It was before the Seventies and they weren’t into all that stuff like inspiration-producing heaps of photos or magazine cuttings, inspirational tracks of music, mysterious works of art. In those days the teacher turned her back and chalked up on the board something like “The Life History of a Penny”, “Ten Minutes To Wait” or “Seen Through A Window”. Prompts, in other words. The internet is heaving with them now.

The truth is, that if you can write you can write, with or without prompts. Indeed, you will write whether or not you want to, feel like it or are ever likely to be read by anyone. And if you can’t write, this sad fact will not be changed by any number of creative writing prompts. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, trawl for prompts.

Anyway, “Seen From My Window”.

Seen From My Window this morning is an untidy rectangle of lawn, thick with frost. At the far end of it, in the half-light, a fat blackbird and one of the Ratties are picking up yesterday’s overspill from the bird-feeder. The dawn sky is a strange mixture – streaks of almost-summer pale blue overlaid with streaks of pink and orange cloud. Bad sign. Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning. (And in case you’re unfamiliar, Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight.)

Behind that is, as far as I have been able to discover in the last seven years, anyway, the only beautiful house in the village. I am thankful, that I am the one who gets to gaze at her from her kitchen window in moments of abstraction. She’s kind of Tudor, with a multitude of weirdly sloping tiled roofs, and those black beams. I say kind of Tudor because she’s not. Probably 1920s or 30s.

However, she’s been here on this bramble-infested hillside for so much longer than any of the excrescences that surround her. She must have been on her own, once. Her new owner has managed to ruin the garden by chopping down a couple of trees, bulldozing most of the rest and installing a portable building-site toilet in one corner, but hasn’t yet thought to paint her white bits dayglo pink or jazz her up with a Roman portico. No doubt he will.

My green bin’s lips are sealed against me. I went out there in the almost-dark to collect the stray-cat dishes and put new out, and put the overnight black bag of waste into my green bin. Had I been keen and energetic I should have done like Canadian Sister with her post-box at the end of the Infinite Driveway – returned with special spray, chisel and whatever to do battle with frozen binny. But what I did was dump the black bag on top of it. Why struggle, when the sun will (eventually) be coming out?

Later, hopefully wearing slightly more than damp bedroom slippers, a worn-thin droopy nightie and a man’s velvetesque dressing-gown, I will have to brave the garage (assuming it will let me in) to fetch more cat food and the shopping bags. Sainsbury’s are delivering this morning, whoopee. A tiny moment of excitement.

7 thoughts on “Red Sky In The Morning

  1. I remember Composition.
    No two sentences to start with the same word. Not to use I to start a sentence…and never use ‘nice’. To this day I have a faintly guilty thrill if using the word….
    I remember the titles, too….one rebellious boy, who did not like Composition, put his penny in the slot in the public toilets at sentence one and described it living in darkness until some official came to put it in a leather bag at the end of the day. Castigated for not entering into the spirit of the thing…
    Your words brought back winter in Europe all too clearly….sliding down to the poultry houses and needing crampons to get back up the slope even while clinging to the rail for dear life…
    Your early morning gear sounds all too like my own…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always imagine the neighbours are watching me and turning up their noses at my slatternly night attire, but they’re probably busy arguing or burning the toast.

      I like that boy and his story of the penny that lived in darkness. It’s a bit like the classic cricket match exam answer: Rain stopped play.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He sttod out…for many reasons. I can remember his name now, mostly because we had similar surnames and the monitors often gave me his exercise book instead of my own. I could tell the difference…mine did not smell of fried food.
        We have acquired neighbours…much to my displeasure. Gone are the days of going to let the sheep out in my night attire.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do believe that the ability to write well is something we are born with, although a little teaching can help develop that skill, I suppose. But I know for a fact that you are a very talented writer, because I’ve been reading your blog posts for quite some time now!

    Liked by 1 person

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