Springtime in England: Instagram IX

Against a context where there is springtime in both Alaska and Paris, in the Rockies, and for Hitler, but ‘Summertime in England’, ‘Springtime in England’ seems neither here nor there. Indeed, there are various odes to Paris in the spring; while the most memorable evocation tenuously pushing together England and the springtime – at least if you did ever hear about T. S. Eliot – comes in the statement ‘April is the cruellest month’. But though Eliot lived in England while writing The Waste Land, the line in the poem is soon followed by another which places the action by the Starnberger See, south of Munich.

No – it is clear that England has nothing whatsoever to do with the spring. And it is thanks only to the sense of ‘spring’ as something giving new life and new movement – rather than owing to its immediate reference to any physical reality in the country – that the Americans did not do away with the English word as they did when dismissing ‘autumn’ for the prettier ‘fall’.

And still in some ways, this ninth selection of photographs drawn from my Instagram account offers a narrative unto itself. The title could have been ‘Springtime in York’, were it not for an excursion to Newcastle and a visit to my grandparents in Durham. Bishopthorpe too admittedly maintains a village identity of its own. So the series of photographs begins in York, with snowdrops a first indication of the spring; before moving to the Quayside, and the Tyne and Millennium bridges and the Sage concert venue; and then back to York, around the university, with pinecone, shadows and scaffolding, bright blue trousers, and next to the trunk of a tree a faintly visible yellow butterfly (do you see it?).

Up to this point the photographs have been vivid and clear – and then we enter a murky zone of blurred streetlights along a dark path which seems to lead equally towards something and nothing. The remaining pictures, in Bishopthorpe, show the dull weather which can possess an English spring. It rained hard on the walk home.