Off On a Wing and a Prayer

First day at Postaday2011, and the suggested topic is : “Share something that makes you smile”.

Mind you, the guys at the Daily Post don’t insist that you stick to this. Very helpfully they say:

If this suggestion doesn’t fit your blog’s general topic (e.g. Your blog is about the air speed velocity of unladen hyperactive swallows), that’s ok. Simply apply the question to your topic, by adding or changing some words.

It’s almost as if they know me ….


Keen ornithologists will often bore you silly about just how swift a swallow can be (look, two birds with one moan there). I do know that they are very,very fast. They are so fast that they wear a V-shaped tail, metaphorically giving two fingers to any bird trailing in their wake. An unladen swallow is a sight to be seen, though generally too fast to actually be seen. Even a laden swallow, such as one carrying two ducks, would still be quicker than a third duck following along behind.

It is said that a when a butterfly flaps its wings it can start a hurricane in another part of the world. When an unladen hyperactive swallow flaps its wings it can cause the world to revolve around the moon.

Much of bird-life lacks speed, and ends up finding that a bird’s life can be short. Half of the world’s birds end up as food or clothing. Penguins are so slow, for God’s sake, that a company makes books out of them. But because swallows are so fast they are very, very hard to kill. You never hear the expression “as dead as the swallow.” You never get pillows filled with swallowdown feathers. No-one has ever had to eat a Swallow McNugget.

There is no song which contains the line “‘I’, said the sparrow, ‘with my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Swallow’.”

(I closed my eyes and sighed deeply when I realised that that joke would only work if I left those last two words together. In fairness, I’ve so far dodged the words bird-fancier, thrush and of course tits. I feel as if my brain is being haunted by the ghosts of the Carry On team).

So, what else do I know about swallows? Well, I’ve heard the expression “one swallow doesn’t make a summer.” This is one of those phrases that is both true and useless. You might as well say “one hat does not make a steamroller.”

I also know that there’s a book called Swallows and Amazons. My comments upon the book are limited by the fact that I have never read it, but I do know a couple of things about Amazon women. I know, for example, that they are named after a river, like Shannon in Into The West, or like  the famous fisherwoman Orinoco Flo.

I also know that, despite the fact that as far back as Biblical times David was killing Goliath with a catapult and Samson was killing his enemies by knocking their house onto them, the warring Amazon women used to cut off a boob to make it easier to draw back a bow-string. This tells me two things: one, that you can always learn something useful from the bible and two, that there are no lengths that a woman will not go to in order to win an argument.

So, there you go.

Oh yes, I hope I shared something that made you smile.


6 thoughts on “Off On a Wing and a Prayer

  1. jmg

    hello sometimes we get busy and I dont read blogs so I get a treat of 3 of your funny wonderful posts at once. Swallows and Amazons is a wonderful book and all the other books in that series. As you get older it is not the writing but the glimpse of the mind behind it which is interesting and their experience. With Arthur Ransome you practically feel the water under the boat. Good sailing!

  2. Jo

    Hmm. I want to see somehting in this post about the rains of dead birds, and your conjecture as to why there have been rains of dead birds…


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