Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London
Sometimes recently I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and there have been birds singing in the street outside. Two or three o’clock in the morning, well before sunrise and they’re chirping away, casually, confidently.
I’m no ornithologist, but shouldn’t they be saving it for the dawn chorus?
Inevitably one is troubled by the abnormal. My initial concern was that their singing portended some dark event, an omen of impending doom.
But the world didn’t implode.
I wondered was I witnessing some form of ecological fallout? Was the nocturnal bird song an unnatural response to an unnatural environment?
The bird authorities’ website reassured me that our feathered friends sing primarily ‘to attract a mate and defend territory’ and that some species are just happy to do these things at night.
I prefer to imagine that the birds outside my window are adapting to the modern world. Working, socialising, eating and courting on a more fluid, 24 hour, ‘always on’ basis.
Perhaps the collective unconscious of London sparrows has connected with humanity’s accelerating metabolism. Perhaps they’re embracing deconstructed social norms, flexible working, speed dating. Maybe this also explains the migrant foxes that have long since given up the tedium and conservatism of rural life for the bright lights and diversity of the metropolis.
I have always liked the idea that change is a social, collective thing. That we like to change together, that we are reassured by community even when that community is evolving in different directions.
I have sadly found it frustrating to entertain philosophies to which my Clients do not yet subscribe.
As a student I was taught that a society in some respects behaves like an orchestra. It assigns ‘in tune-ness’ to behaviours that are consistent with everyone else and it rejects abnormal behaviour as ‘out of tune’.
This of course has its downsides. But it’s reassuring to consider that, as we run at the future, we may be taking the the wildlife with us…