It’s the 3rd of October and I had to scrape ice off my car this morning. I mean, I know autumn has arrived but that’s taking the piss a bit. I should, naturally, be grateful; I should always be grateful, because I value punctuality very highly and in all fairness autumn has been super-on-time this year. Literally, on the first official day of the season it turned grey and by the second day it was lashing down like a cow pissing on flat rock, as they say in Arkansas. Oh how it has rained this week, apocalyptic water from on high, a message from the planet to show us who’s really in charge. Enough rain to startle a carp. Just what we needed. Probably.
But why moan? Who moans? Me no moan, no never no. After all aren’t the British supposed to enjoy autumn? Aren’t we all duty bound to marvel at the dank and burnt umber-ness of it all? When they set the criteria for the British Citizenship exam they should really insist that everyone can say something like (preferably in a Berkshire accent): “gosh, what I love about living in Britain is being able to appreciate the changing of the seasons”, only without letting their eyes roll back as if they’re having a minor stroke. Because that’s the excuse everyone gives when the weather gets all shitty and the rivers bloat up and it starts blowing a fucking gale every other day – oh, how I just love to watch the changing of the seasons.
Personally I don’t actively un-invite the changing of the seasons, but they’re kind of a side-line attraction, a peripheral thing that happens when I’m getting on with the rest of my life. I don’t so much see them as feel them and feel the weight of their impact on my day to day existence. To truly have the time to appreciate the turning of one season into the next you need to be retired, unemployed, living off grid, homeless or a fugitive on a very long run. As far as my life goes the change from late summer into autumn basically involves more rain, colder air, piles of rotting leaves, a sharp decline in the driving standards of others and hence (sob) more traffic and a creeping darkness that cloaks the soul and dampens some kind of fire.
It’s not all bad, of course, please don’t let me spoil your fun. Sitting in the garden, choking the atmosphere with a middle class chimenea and clutching a glass of wine and the paper on a crisp, bright, chilly Saturday afternoon takes some beating, and there is much to be said for curling up in the evenings and hiding away from the world with a hot chocky, especially at Halloween. And bonfire night. But generally speaking I’m happier in spring and summer than I am the other half of the year. Putting the bins out when it’s raining is no fun. Doing pretty much anything outdoors when it’s raining is no fun, so take your pick. You don’t watch the leaves turn brown; you just see them being green and then all of a sudden you see them being brown and then you see them on your living room carpet as you walk them through the house. And if the cold kills all the bugs then why is everyone ill?
I don’t mind or indeed much care if you’re a season fan or not. Some seasons are better than others and everyone has their preference, but I just don’t see how the worst moment in any season is made any better because you’ve been afforded the luxury of seeing it coming, like a slow motion car crash. When people in Britain say they love the changing of the seasons they don’t really mean it; they’re just resigned to the fact that they live in Britain and they don’t have any plans to change that any time soon. It’s a big, fat pretentious cliché for those who have enough time to justify it, but at least while clichés can be awful this one is just a bit drippy. And that’s OK. But when I step out of the house at six in the morning, into the dark and the damp and the howling whatever, and I start to feel my balls creep up my spine, the last thing I’m thinking about is how lovely all this change is. And when I’m scraping my windscreen with no gloves on I’m not listening to ‘The Lark Ascending’ in my frozen little head. Bring on spring, or maybe just don’t bother; I’m not going anywhere soon anyway. Either way enjoy it the way you enjoy it best.
G B Hewitt. 03.10.2019