It had been a busy day, but that wasn’t unusual in itself. He was often busy; work was taking up an increasing amount of time. It was nice to be needed though. Depended upon – you know. And Harry was good at his job. He travelled the same country lane to work every day and took increasingly less notice of his surroundings as he went. Perhaps that was due to his being increasingly stressed. Or perhaps it was that the hours he put into work were becoming longer and longer and, especially in the winter months, it was often dark as he travelled to and from his place of business. Perhaps he had just got used to the beauty of the place and it had no real impact on him anymore. He’d been a bit of a birdwatcher in his youth – not a twitcher, not one of those who drove hundreds of miles to witness a brown blob half a mile out on the flats, way beyond where you could walk, and tick it off a list, or even add it to a list that had been comprehensive but wasn’t anymore because of this little rarity that had been blown in from Siberia – not that kind of birdwatcher, but a proper birder – someone who delighted in feathered fauna. And he used to notice the buzzards gliding across the fields and the hills, or been keen to glimpse a kestrel hovering over a verge, and he’d loved spotting a fast-flying sparrowhawk lancing across the road after prey or perhaps a red kite coming down off the Chiltern Hills in search of something to scavenge. Even in the evenings, the ghostly form of a barn owl quartering the meadows by the side of the road or the flit of the dark form of a tawny owl in the treetops as he sped through the more wooded sections of Flaunden Hill was a sight that would gladden the heart. Perhaps he had just got used to it all and perhaps he wasn’t able to appreciate things in the way he used to.
That was a lot of perhapses, but he did his best to stem the tide. For a while now he’d done his best to ignore anything that would cause him to think about anything other than work. And it wasn’t just that he was needed at work – he was appreciated, valued, respected even. And he enjoyed what he did. It might not have been to everyone’s taste, but he was pretty much left alone – not that that meant he kept himself to himself too much. At least, he never used to. Actually, if he was forced to think about it, there wasn’t much activity at the office these days. In fact, he was struggling to think of the last time he saw anyone. But it didn’t matter, as he had a key, so he could let himself into the office and get set up and start without being bothered. People had always told him how much they found his professional attitude and organised precision comforting. He knew, yes he knew, just how much they thought of him. It spurred him on, making him push himself still harder and outdo his colleagues – in the nicest possible way, of course. (more…)