dawn chorus

How long did it take me to adjust to the level of noise in London? I can’t remember now. I think about this as I lie trying to sleep on another warm, muggy night, the windows open for the bit of breeze which shimmies through the plane trees outside. For about five hours, overnight, there’s an approximate silence. It starts around half past midnight, when the extractor fan from the Chinese noodle bar, which backs onto the car park downstairs, is finally switched off. It ends when the urban dawn chorus begins, at 5:30, with the roar of the first planes flying in to Heathrow. The traffic builds, swishing and soughing like the tide coming in. Trains clatter past; the chug of a black cab; the lurch and hiss of a bus braking. Some mornings there’s the din of the rubbish collection; other mornings it’s the recycling banks being emptied. And beneath all this, yes, there are birds, cawing, squabbling and warbling, darting and flitting about, apparently unconcerned by the rushing zooming mechanical racket jamming the airspace around them.

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