I never liked the idea of a calling bird. It smacked of the Judas Goat, even when I was a child. But I’m told that “calling” is a mondegreen in this context and the original was probably “colly birds”. Which apparently are blackbirds.
Hmm. Bit of a cheapskate suitor there, then. I mean, blackbirds come free with the landscape. All he had to do was scatter a few breadcrumbs on the lawn and then point out the descending blackbirds as her present.
Mind you, the Easter Island stamp version is along the same lines. And gulls call all right. Anglo Saxon poets thought they were the souls of dead sailors. Give me a blackbird every time.
Two turtle doves are, perhaps, the most understandable of the strange gifts the True Love sent to his beloved. They are the symbol of perfect romantic contentment, billing and cooing and utterly absorbed in each other.
Whether she needed ten more pairs after that first gift, of course, is debatable. Continue reading →
“Ooo yes, let’s do a series of book recommendations for the Twelve Days of Christmas,” we said.
But those 12 days of presents were really pretty weird. I mean, if a pear tree was small enough to give someone as a present, it wouldn’t be big enough for a partridge to perch in. A problem faced by the designer of the 1977 UK postage stamp, I notice. A solid bird, the partridge.
So our list is going to be associative, rather than literal, if you see what I mean. There is a connection, in our minds at least. But not always necessarily obvious. Continue reading →
Starting on Boxing Day, we’ll be posting a daily fun episode of the 12 Days of Christmas, but instead of suggesting a song to sing, we’ll be focusing on books we have read and a few of the ideas — sometimes silly or frivolous, sometimes serious — they’ve given rise to.
Please join in with your own suggestions. We’d love to hear what you think.
Don’t miss the First Day of Christmas, here on 26th December
pear tree at the ready…
Last year, we gave you Town Mouse and Country Mouse.
This year, we’re doing something vaguely similar.
It’s up to you to decide which Hive member is which in our Christmas card, below.
We know, of course, but we’re not telling 😉
Since it’s Christmas Day, you’ve probably got plenty to do.
So we won’t add many words — mostly festive pictures that we hope you’ll enjoy. Continue reading →
And our birthday treat, to ourselves, and to you, our readers, is a scrummy romantic story, vintage Sophie Weston that you may have missed first time round. Want a RED HOT LOVER for Christmas? Who wouldn’t? Well, you’ll find him right here…
When I was a child, Christmas was the smell of oranges and cigars and the Christmas tree, resinous and strange. Put any two of them together and it still bounces me right back into the past, bringing with it firelight, the bustle of friendly company, a sense of holding my breath in excitement. Smell is the first route by which I recall emotion.
Why smell evokes memory : the science bit
There is a reason for this, I find. Olfactory neurones in the upper part of the nose generate an impulse which signals the limbic system, that part of the brain which controls not only memory but also emotion, mood and behaviour. Supposedly, this is one of the most primitive parts of the brain.
Smell — the fallen angel of senses?
Apparently, Helen Keller called smell “the fallen angel of the human senses” because we don’t use it any more to tell us there’s a tiger in the area. And I agree that we live in an intensely visual age, with more communication illustrated than ever before.
But we do still smell food that has gone off.
And, even more important to the romantic novelist, smell is an important part of sexual attraction. Continue reading →