I was in the garden at the end of October and I heard a noise, a bird call. Actually several birds calling. I didn’t recognise the sound. What kind of bird calls like that? Not any birds which usually live round here (in the Charente, France).

I looked up and saw this flying V of birds right above my head.

Geese? Nope, they didn’t sound like geese, and look at the shape of them? They aren’t geese.

Storks? Maybe they are storks. Or Cranes. How do you tell the difference? Well, one way to tell the difference, apparently, is by listening to their call. Storks are mute. They clack their beaks. But Cranes make a noise. What kind of noise? Play the video and have a listen.

Amazing. Truly amazing. There must have been 150 to 200 of them. Flying directly South. Cranes migrate following a path from the North East of France, to the South West, passing, sometimes anyway, directly over the Charente. I’ve never seen them before, never heard them before.

Made my day.

Here’s the noise Storks make. I saw and recorded these ones in the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau

Faculty of Homeopathy Congress 2016. Belfast. Opening Presentation.

In 2016, I was invited to give the opening presentation at the Faculty of Homeopathy Congress in Belfast. I focused on the ways in which we use stories and images to make sense of our lives. I illustrated some of the points with clips from a couple of movies – Remains of the Day, and Brassed Off – two from my personal list of best movies ever. And I shared a few personal stories too.

 


This next video isn’t mine. It’s a short ad for a charitable organisation which provides food banks and meals to the poor and/or homeless in France.

What really appeals to me is how simple it is. Reminds me just how powerful the human heart is – in all senses of that word, not just in the anatomico-physiological sense. How we use phrases like “heart felt”, “close to my heart”, “heart longing” and so on, and how we use the symbol of the heart to represent love. And when I start to think of that the scientific discovery of networks of nerve fibres (specifically, neurones) around the heart (and around the other hollow organs of the body) has shown us that the “self”, that “I”, don’t exist simply inside the bones of the skull. I’m also reminded of the studies which have examined “heart rate variability”. How they’ve begun to show us what “heart intelligence” might be.

All that aside, however, is there any sound, any rhythm as primordial, as basic, as core to our very existence, as the sound of the beating heart?