One of my earliest memories of being bewildered goes back to my first reading of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales at my comprehensive school in Liverpool. I didn’t understand a word, but later learned that poetry is not only about content, but also about rhythm and sound and evocation. And  day like today – warm sun shining and a cloudless blue sky ( also empty of aircraft because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland) – and it is Chaucer who springs to mind:

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

The Canterbury pilgrims were moved by the promise of spring to walk to the Mother Church of England. But they started in the Tabard pub in Southwark.

I sometimes wonder where I was in the queue when the spirituality ‘genes’ were given out. I know many people today love spiritual pilgrimages and the mysticism of ‘holy sites’ and ‘holy journeys’. In my own experience the best pilgrimages (of mind and spirit) have begun in the open world of the pub and only ended (if they ever really did end) in the church – not usually the other way round. The best questions are raised in the common places of human discourse, even if they find their ‘home’ eventually in the place of worship and freedom.

But this spring is starting well as the blossom flourishes outside my study window and the trees are budding green. The Hillsborough Inquiry has begun this week under the chairmanship of the Bishop of Liverpool, Liverpool Football Club is finally on the market (and, hopefully, out of uncomprehending American hands), the Liberal Democrats have blown a hole in lazy British assumptions about two-party politics (and brought the election to life), and I’ve got Bruce Springsteen competing with Chaucer – maybe because he put a good tune to it:

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by.

Somehow that (and the music that goes with it) welcomes the spring and captures the optimism engendered by not having to wear loads of clothes.

Summer is coming…