Today is glorious in Edinburgh. Blue skies, not a cloud to be seen and, incredibly, it's almost warm. It's the season to walk. And listen.
Don't get me wrong I love my podcasts: Woman's Hour, Farming Today, The Archers (for goodness sake someone give Helen a Totseat for Henry, it will make her life so much easier!) And I love the odd songstress whom my daughter would know better than me, to say nothing of my 80s collection. However, I can only wear headphones on a train. There's something about my brain which, when walking, won't allow me to hear anything other than what's directly around me.
Whatever it is, this strange lack of ability to wear headphones when walking to work at Totseat HQ, gives me time - 'me time' - for thinking, planning, remembering to buy the supper, and the chance to listen to what's around me.
I write this having taken an odd route to work this morning which led me along the canal, of all things. Yes, in Edinburgh City Centre - a canal. I only went this way because five minutes earlier I walked past a couple discussing how lovely it had been, so I took a detour, and it was. 'Lovely'.
Storming along beside me, however, were those besuited with, you guessed it, headphones. They were bustling busily with briefcases and handbags a plenty, with long, white leads dangling from their ears like Martians. (Clearly not being the owner of an i-Anything, perhaps I am just jealous).
I remember, as a child, the supermarket trolley being the subject of a children's story involving aliens not understanding why a metal, box-shaped thing on wheels seemed to have things with legs attached when they were full, but not when they were empty. The headphone lead may attract a similar tale.
Anyway, without my headphones I heard the blackbirds courting, the seagulls arguing, the sparrow tweeting. All amidst the traffic and humdrum of the commute to work. But for those deep into their Bruno Mars, these were missed pieces of life.
The clanking of the bottles into the recycling lorry, the pothole kerplunking as the cars drove over them, the ever noisy lorries zipping past, too, the bicycle bells, the merriment of schoolchildren, the cajoling of mothers and small children, the caterwauling of the cats, the stereo from the white van, the pelican crossing bleep, the lollipop man saying his good mornings, the baby crying, the lovers tiffing, the young rouges goofing, the whistler, the talking-to-one-self-er (probably me), the phone conversations, and the unknowing recommendation to walk along the canal to take it all in.
Walking home along a slightly different path, I heard the noise a jackdaw makes when it closes its wings. Not flapping them, but closing them, just in front of me. A definitive click. Not harsh, like a lock, but a click none the less. Feathered but defined. Hideous bird, mind you, but a wonderful, never-before-identified sound bite.
If you get just five minutes, try it. Just walk and listen.