Winter, and I had a window seat on the train to work. Along a quarter mile or so where the rails run near the river it was plain that some trees were not infested with ivy but with mistletoe, not yet enough for a commercial harvest – unlike these trees in Oxford. Has the University or the College considered such an income stream? There was one small clump in a tree above the railway cutting, close enough to warrant a kiss – but Mrs Turnstone was five miles away in the supermarket.
A weekend break with Mrs Turnstone took us to an Oxford cold enough for ice to send us sliding.
The city’s Red Bull welcomes all who come in by train, but he deserves to be more prominently displayed, not enclosed on three sides by yellow brick walls.
We’d already greeted Betjeman at St Pancras and Brunel at Paddington stations; which poses a question: who should be standing outside Canterbury West, welcoming pilgrims, visitors and students to the city?
The trees of Oxford were still unleafed so the mistletoe stood out in all its abundance, high in the upper branches. Mrs Turnstone deserved a kiss as we passed by below.
On the river the mallards were certainly paired off, bar a few bachelor drakes trying to persuade the ladies that their charms were greater than their chosen ones’.
I must have had Christmas on my mind even to entertain the idea for a moment. Well, how could it be mistletoe, growing out of the brick arch just north of Peterborough? It looked the part at first sight: a spherical shrub, branching down as well as up, but it was our old friend Buddleia, beyond easy control above a railway track.
So what will take over the world when humans are gone? Buddleia, brambles, birch, briars? Rats, foxes, jackdaws, gulls, magpies? We’ll never know!