James Cory-Wright’s ‘digested month’ 2

Illustration by James Cory-Wright

The mystery of the Lewes mullet murmuration

So here they are again, the return of those thin-lipped mullet. Every spring, hundreds of mullet congregate where the freshwater Winterbourne stream hits the brackish River Ouse just below the Cliffe Bridge in Lewes. But it’s a mystery as to why they do this.

The thin-lipped mullet themselves remain tight-lipped on the subject, so all we can do is speculate and observe. Although not with the Neighbourhood Watch, I’ve studied these mullet closely, and I don’t mean staring at the back of Kevin Keegan’s head whistling Diamond Nights sung by Chris and Glenn. Anyway, I’ve noticed that most of the mullet congregation have their back to the river and are facing the refreshing cold water stream — like Londoners on Brighton Beach worshipping Fat Boy Slim on the decks.

And this supports the argument that they’re washing the sea lice from their silver grey scales. Makes sense. As I wrote in Lewes News, “Imagine you’ve been spawning away in the salty sea for several months and, like a soldier in the trenches, you’re now being nibbled and burrowed by lice. What better way to clean up than to lean face first into the cold cleansing current of a freshwater stream, chalky from the compression of calcite shells and coccoliths – like a shower at the beach after a salty swim in the Mediterranean – but with the bonus of being deloused at the same time.”

I guess that’s something you might like to bear in mind come summer.

How many foreign secretaries does it take to get a cat out of Afghanistan?

“Thanks for getting me out boss man.” Picture by UK Prime Minister Creative Commons

The answer is none. Just ask Boris and he’ll do it for you. His efficiency in extricating animals from Afghanistan was in stark contrast to his crass bungling in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was Foreign Secretary in 2017. Thank heavens she is free despite Mr Piggy’s worst efforts. Interesting that the Infamous Five foreign secretaries that failed her were all men, and that Nazanin was only finally released when a woman was in the job. Just saying.

Gove actually

I believe in the goodness of human nature, but sadly, it’s often the worst of times that bring out the best in people. It grates me to say it, but rubber duck Gove struck a chord with his invitation to Ukrainians when he said, “The British people have already opened their hearts in so many ways and I’m hopeful that many will also be ready to open their homes to those fleeing persecution.”Schmaltzy, and as full of holes as a pair of fishnet tights, but what do you expect from the dirty dancer at the dispatch box.

A kick in the adverbials

Wall of adverbs at Stanford Business School. Pic by albedo20 from Creative Commons

I can forgive all his flapping about in the discotheque like Sammy the seal but, with SATS coming up in April for primary school kids, I cannot forgive the Saturday Night Gamester for the ‘fronted adverbials’ and the modals he inflicted on children and parents alike in lockdown, as a result of his revisionist tenure as Minister of Education.

On the subject of language, have you noticed how certain words are in vogue for a while, particularly with politicians; the latest is “proportionate”. There were loads during lockdown which I’ve already forgotten – which is, I guess, the whole point because none of it is intended to be about actual communication, only obfuscation, or sell. Here’s a cracker…

The acme of gibberish

How does a self-styled “community hub” justify charging £750 year for an exclusive membership scheme on the same premises? This is Rockwater, a revamped venue on Hove seafront. The justification according to the owner, Luke Davis, is that “Rockwater is a way of life and Open Water brings together the best of that lifestyle in a subscription with a lot of content for people to get involved with.” Words fail me. Just as they failed Mr Davis.

All things bright and beautiful?

Beauty and melancholy in equal measure. Cherry tree in blossom (Kansan). Photo by Nina in Creative Commons

We get the most amazing cherry blossom in our front garden, and when the petals fall only two weeks later, it’s like pink snow. But the spectacle can take you one of two ways. On the one hand, for my younger partner and children, the vivid display is an unequivocally happy sight. Colour and life after a dead drab winter.

So they were surprised when a friend the same age as me, said the blossom made him sad. Which was exactly how I’d felt about it but kept to myself. Of course, the older you get, the more poignant the short-lived life span of the flower becomes as it speaks of the transience of human existence.

Rooks, rebels and hornets

977, 1400, 926: impressive recent attendance figures for football clubs in the Isthmian Premier League, the seventh tier of the football league pyramid. And they’re all Sussex teams, Lewes, Worthing and Horsham respectively. It may not be the Prem, but the beer’s a lot better, you’re at liberty to choose who you stand next to, and have a natter while hopefully watching a decent game of footie. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. So there’s more to life than cherry blossom after all…

“Come on you Rooooks” Lewes FC fans at the Dripping Pan by James Boyes @ Creative Commons

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