In the skies above Rome.


Chapman Swifts by Kat Sam

Before the rain the air above Rome was full of swifts, flying to feed their chicks under the eaves of city centre apartments. diving between buildings, feeding on the aerial plankton of insects which floated high above the traffic. ‘Why don’t we have the swifts in London?’ I thought. ‘We have old buildings too, why aren’t we living with streets full of swifts?’

Maybe the difference is in our attitudes to life. The Italians, I am told, take a more relaxed view, not forever worrying about tomorrow, not financially planning for a future which could not arrive. They live for the day, they enjoy the pleasures of life, good food, family. Maybe this relaxed attitude extends to building renovations, maybe that crack in the fascia or slipped roof tile will just be fixed tomorrow, so the birds find a home here which is denied to them in our more fastidious society.

Maybe the difference also is that Rome seemed to be full of people living in the city, ordinary people with ordinary apartments where as London is nowadays only the preserve of the super rich. The super rich can afford all those building renovations which ordinary people put off until tomorrow.

So Rome is a city in which life is on the streets where as London seems increasingly to be a city devoid of its citizens both human and avian.