My initial response to an invitation to select ‘ My beautiful thing’ was to choose an object of some sort . I thought of the deco cup and saucer in the shape of a clam shell that I picked up at a boot fair . I rejected that in favour of my Lulu Guinness hand bags then cast them aside for my Alexander McQueen scarves , recent acquisitions to the Sinclair wardrobe. I was like a spoilt child at Christmas discarding one present for another.

Then I read other people’s offerings and was put to shame by  a heart felt list of flowers, sunsets, and  loved ones.  Not a Ted Baker scarf in sight ! So I began  to dig deeper trying to find the one thing whose pleasure was not pecuniary and in some way was valued on a more spiritual level although I must admit  my awesome moments these days occur at the Sales . 

To my relief I found that despite my reputation for material objects I do have a list of things that enhance my life which I take for granted these include: lilacs. lavender, blue bells and Hares with their strange eyes that  make me laugh. Even laughter itself but there was are not one thing that stood out as prized above all others.

Then it came to me …..the sound of the cuckoo in Spring. It has become rather rarer in Kent now which makes it even more prized .   My aunt has tales how when working in the orchards it would call all day and positively get on their nerves. They use to torment the birds by calling back and confusing them.  However now every year I must go in search of it; on early morning walks my ears are attuned sharp as any other animal about at that time,  and if I’m lucky I may catch it faintly in the distance . But it’s not a confirmed hearing so does not satisfy me . It might after all be a teasing wood pigeon.  Cuckoos are generally creatures of habit, and usually return to the same place one of which is the  graveyard of our parish church. So at various times of the day I may be seen wondering or sitting there like Beryl  Reid in the film’ Entertaining Mr Sloan’.  Most years my patience is rewarded and the call begins.

I don’t know what it is about the song but I seem to inhale the sound  . It touches something profound even primitive within me and I am absolutely happy and at peace. For that one moment I seem to link back through many summers into the far , far past.   Then of course it is over. The birds no longer seem to sing all day in one place but have a wider territory, largely because their usual habit is being destroyed.


I think it is this transitoryness both in terms of its visit for as the old rhyme goes ‘’ in August go he must’’ that makes it of such worth . For in a society without seasonality where strawberries are available all year round the cuckoo  still obeys nature’s rules. 

There is one more factor as  to why this is ‘My favourite thing’. I have been taught  the superstition that where ever one hears the cuckoo one will be the next year  , graveyard aside , what it means to me is after the horrors of living in an industrial town , I can not put a price on living in the country and ever fearful it will be taken away from me the sound of the cuckoo is my talisman that I shall indeed be in the same place next year to hear the cuckoo.