Sunday, 16 November 2014


Of the Kite the poet now sings —
What, one of those things that has strings?
But that’s too absurd —
We’ve inferred that his word
Referred to a bird, that has wings.

When I lived in London I used to on Sundays to Parliament Hill Fields — the recognized venue — and fly a kite. Apart from the kites themselves, the first thing one noticed was the absence of women and children — the kite flyers were all men over fifty, old and wise enough to have discovered that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is to go and fly a kite.

I took it very seriously — I had a large cloth kite, of the design called a ‘War Kite’, whose wooden spars I had replaced with aluminium tubing, and a large reel bought from a specialist shop, which held enough special line — none of your fishing nylon — to enable me to fly my kite so high it couldn’t be seen. Quite what the point of that might be I don’t know, but I enjoyed watching the puzzled expressions as people followed my line upwards with their eyes but could see, like myself, nothing.

Here in Greece there is one day in the year — late winter, early spring, I can’t remember the exact date — when everyone is supposed to go out and fly a kite. Paper kites appear in the shops a few days beforehand, and are lost or torn on the day, and next year you buy another. I have been in Greece long enough to have taken on Greek fecklessness: every year I turn up without a kite of my own, and every year I say to myself ‘Before next time I must make a really impressive cloth kite’ and then forget.


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