The trees are right now wearing their brightest, most glorious green. As I write, somewhere in all that foliage a chaffinch is trilling its insistent call-sign. A pair of great tits are toing and froing very busily, foraging for tasty morsels to bring back to their young family in the nesting-box under my windowsill.
On the lawn below, two young blackbirds are harassing their parents to keep feeding them. Though they are already as big as the adult pair, the youngsters still have the distinctive “feed-me” yellow stripes on the side of their bills.
The grape hyacinths and wild primroses that enjoyed their best spring for many years have now yielded pride of place to the forget-me-nots along the footpath to my door.
The air is thick with the aroma of hawthorn blossom, not inaptly known as mayflower. Another few days should bring the annual bombardment of that gorgeously weird winged thing the maybug, aka cockchafer, spang beetle or – locally and most colourfully – billywitch.
All this vibrancy of life should surely lift the dullest spirit. It puts our parochial and political woes in perspective. Always look on the bright side and all that.
But then there’s the prediction that a sixth of all species of life on earth will be extinct by the end of the century.
It would be better for most of the rest if our species was one of those facing annihilation. And there are several plausible scenarios which suggest we could be.
If we wipe out the bees, for example, they might well take us with them.
A nuclear Armageddon is no less likely now than it was 50-odd years ago when it was the world’s biggest worry. If it were to happen, that forecast of a sixth of all species would surely prove to be a major under-estimate.
But never mind. I’m sure there’ll be another dawn chorus to listen to tomorrow.
I wanted to avoid writing about politics this week, but I just have to share my mixed feelings about Chuka Umunna’s early withdrawal from the contest to become Labour leader.
Partly it’s one of relief. I handed in my party card years ago, but I still believe British politics needs a strong Labour Party. More crucially, it needs a Labour Party that remains true to its core values, its very reason for being. Or, rather, that rediscovers those things.
It says a lot about Umunna that he was Tony Blair’s preferred candidate for the leadership.
It was under Blair that Labour became simply another Tory party. A friend of big business, not the corner shop. Of the corporate employer, not the struggling employee.
For a while the party still called “Labour” was a more successful Tory party than the real one. Even were Umunna to recreate that success, one would have to wonder what would be the point. Shiny careers for a few shiny career politicians and that’s about it.
But I feel sorry for Umunna. And the apparent reason he changed his mind is troubling.
Yes, democracy needs the scrutiny of a free press. But for Umunna’s family – his girlfriend, his mother – to face harassment, intrusion and innuendo so strongly and so soon that he felt compelled to step aside reflects a lot worse on my profession than on his.
I always felt stories of the carefully fabricated cult status built for North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un should be taken with a pinch of salt. A country that cuts itself off from the world gives itself great scope for propaganda – but it also allows for a lot of propaganda about that propaganda.
Russia, however, is a different kettle of fish. Mutual distrust between Moscow and the West may be at a post-Communist peak, but there are plenty of international journalists in Russia. Plenty of communication in both directions through TV, the internet and other media.
So we really have to believe the most surreal news story of the past week – the eight goals scored by President Vladimir Putin in an exhibition ice hockey game to mark VE Day. Heck, I’ve seen the video.
Just to stay upright and mobile on the ice is a feat for a 62-year-old – even one who rides horses topless and hauls ancient archaeological relics out of the sea with his bare hands.
One can only speculate what other world leaders may feel obliged to do to compete.
Turning out in an NBA basketball match would obviously be a thrill for Barack Obama.
François Hollande should trade in his moped for a proper bike and ride the Tour de France.
I could see Angela Merkel in Germany’s synchronised swimming squad.
And David Cameron could bang in a few goals for West Ham. Or Aston Villa.