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Monday 3rd June 2019

Sam Lee and friendsExtinction Rebellion has collaborated with folk singer Sam Lee and The Nest Collective to perform a musical rebellion in Berkeley Square. The song of a nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) was live-streamed throughout the Square to a large crowd highlighting the plight of a bird not heard in Central London for around three centuries and nearing extinction in the UK. The chart topping RSPB’s single featuring the songs of critically endangered birds was also heard. The assembly joined Sam in his re-worded rendition of the original song made famous by Cole Porter, and written in 1939 by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin about the nightingale in it’s notional home.

Cosmo Sheldrake, the musician son of biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake and Buddhist overtone chanteuse Jill Purce, created a poignant soundscape by naming insects, amphibians, mammals and birds that have disappeared in what the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal has described as “biological annihilation via the ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction.” Cosmo named the Atlas Bear, the Tasmanian Tiger and the Passenger Pigeon amongst many others, all now extinct.

A circle of candles representing the distinctive Extinction Rebellion logo lit up the glorious Square, where London Plane (Platanus x hispanica) trees have stood for 300 years. Participants were invited to take the candles on to other places and other protests. Satish Kumar, veteran editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine told the gathering that we can only save the Earth by taking personal responsibility. “What we do to Nature, we do to ourselves,” he said, praising the efforts of David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, and reminding us of Rachel Carson’s early warning about the effects of pesticides in her 1962 book Silent Spring.


Satish Kumar speaking at Extinction Rebellion



That certain night

The night we met
There was magic abroad in the air
There were angels marching through this town
And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square
I may be right I may be wrong
But I'm perfectly willing to swear
That we can turn this world around
And make nightingales sing in Berkeley Square
The moon that lingered over London’s skies
That April moon he knew why
He knew that we are acting out of love
The whole wide world seemed to recognise
How strong we are, like never before
We here because we care
But those hazy crazy nights we met
And dreamed nightingales sang in Berkeley Square
Our onward steps may be harder yet
But we’ve hope like we never had dared
To give a voice
For what’s now so rare
Like the nightingales here in Berkeley Square

And now we kiss and say goodnight It was such a romantic affair
It was no dream
I know, we were there
We heard nightingales sing in Berkeley Square
Those nights spent under London stars
And nightingales sang in Berkeley square


Hear the song in full: