Boxing Day dawn brought new Tier 4 restrictions, shutting Suffolk down. The village was quiet anyway, with second homes standing empty, some of my neighbours away visiting family for Christmas and the rest of us indoors with the lights on and the fire lit, playing with new toys or dealing with our hangovers, depending on age. When I took Scout out for her morning walk no cars passed us on the empty lanes, and I didn’t hear or see another soul.

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The light was cold and grey and flat, a blanket of low cloud muffling sound and shutting out the sun to the extent that even its vague position was unguessable. The sky loured and pressed down implacably. The sky’s deadness felt appropriate: it suited the day following excess, as well as the first day of lockdown. In the leafless hedgerows few birds moved.

We went out again as the light began to fade: no sunset on a day like today, just a gradual diminution of the light. I saw a single car across the fields, on the B-road, its headlights brave against the coming night. As we turned back towards the village a wood pigeon broke from its roost above us with a clatter of wings, and I passed a house blinking with coloured lights.

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At my gate, the sudden clamour of rooks: around and above the old church tower a flung handful of corvids was twisting and falling, calling to one another in alarm or perhaps encouragement. And then, as I stood and watched, they melted away.

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