Saturday, 6 December 2008

Bomber's Moon

Earlier I walked along the River Lea from Waltham Abbey to Cheshunt with my mum. The Lee Valley's great - it's London, but not as you know it. On a map, the system of rivers, marshes and various other waterways looks like a snail's gloopy slime trail hanging above north-east London. But on the ground it's absorbing, exciting and mysterious - especially at 5pm in winter.

Heading back to "the Abbey" - only us locals may call it that; to you it's "Waltham" in its abbreviated form - I discussed plans for Moonwalking with Mother (a bit like Listen with Mother - but with me now doing all the talking, and all the talking involving the moon and walking). The clear night allowed us to see the moon (getting fuller!) shining down to the Lea and reflecting in the rippling surface of the river. I remarked how it looked like a paused video tape, flickering with the water's surface. Mum thought it looked like it was under the water: on the river bed, by the beak of the upside down swan, among the reeds, but above the discarded Fosters cans. An illusion. A sort of liquid-light Doppler effect.

"Look how it's lighting the river," she said. "Your grandmother called it a Bomber's Moon."

A what?

Another dreaded dark and deathly night during the Second World War. Men, women and children await the next attack, the next air raid. But the sky is clear. No planes, no bombers, no screams. Just the moon, as full as she can be. A perfect night. A perfect night for the bombers. From the Channel they are led to the cities by nature's torch: the moon, her white light reflecting off the rivers and canals, lighting Britain and Germany, Europe, guiding the pilots to their targets to drop their bombs. Burn their cities. Nature at her best and her worst.

Cat's eyes. A light no screams can turn off. A Bomber's Moon.

This is "Bomber's Moon" by Mike Harding. As an occasional listener of folk music, I was surprised and delighted to find this perfectly-suited song lurking in the clogged arteries of YouTube. Typical of its genre, I feel it says more about the subject of this blog than any written description could. Melancholic, meaningful and moving.

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