If you don’t have a social media account or a window, you may not be aware, but it has happened. Autumn has made its gentle descent upon the UK, with all the grace and charm of a drunk ballet dancer with an obesity problem. One minute we were frolicking in parks wearing nothing but gravity defying bikinis and a knowing smile, and now we have been plunged into a darkened world of oppressive woollens and umbrellas gouging at our eyes. If you were in any doubt as to it officially being autumn, here’s my handy guide to spotting the signs.
We all know that summer can be as grey as the rest of the seasons, so the lack of “sunshine” and drop in temperatures isn’t always an easy giveaway, but while most of us have the good grace to slip easily back into drab boots and shapeless coats, some are less open to the idea that the British summer lasts as long as a virgin in a brothel. The first sign that autumn has struck, is the sore thumb sticking out that is The Idiot in Denial. You’ve seen them, sliding about the rain washed streets perilously in their obstinate flip flops, shivering beneath their wind swept t-shirts, trying not to let their nipples pierce the fabric, knees knocking against the brisk chill in deluded shorts. Yes, deluded shorts are a thing. They’re like Bermuda shorts, only they’re worn when the temperatures require a thick coating of trouser.
Mind you, it’s hardly shocking that people continue to dress so inappropriately when even the fashion papers don’t seem to know what’s going on. The next sign that autumn has clearly made its presence felt, is that magazine and fashion websites declare with ebullient alacrity that layers and knitwear are to be “the surprise hits of the season”. Really? This is the same surprise trend we all latched on to last year. And the year before. In fact I seem to recall it being the “surprise hit of the season” the day sheep were invented. A real surprise hit would be if we all started wearing jumpers made of chocolate and layers of jam.
At no other time than the first glimpse of autumn are people so unnecessarily poetic. Even the most monosyllabic of grunting mouth-breathers becomes desperately aware of the trees doing exactly what trees do every year, spouting joyous soliloquies regarding the hues gracing the boughs (branches become boughs in autumn and spring). A desperate competitive streak arises as people attempt to find more than 5,000 words for “brown” when waxing lyrical about the changing scenery, seemingly unaware that they are in fact gushing about dead leaves. Apparently death and decay gives people a warm feeling when it’s cluttering up the pavement, clogging gutters and causing traffic accidents. Poetry, indeed.
When people aren’t regaling each other with 5,001 superlatives for “brown”, offices across the land resound with the phrase “oooh, it’s soup weather now”. Apparently this doesn’t mean that the skies have opened and rained down a torrent of delicious cream-of-chicken, much to my disappointment as I ran outside yesterday, taking Billie Holiday’s advice to hold my umbrella upside down. No, this means that while May to August is “salad weather”, at the first turning of the leaf, only soup may be consumed from thence on. A rather restricted diet, by all accounts, but who am I to argue with the wisdom of the office water cooler.
NEWSFLASH! Someone has just turned their central heating on. There’s no turning back, it’s too late now. You are 100% in the grips of autumn. The central heating has been declared fit for service by one person, who bemoans this fact on Facebook, Twitter and every street corner, causing a domino effect of boilers to fire up in homes all over the UK. No sooner has the first radiator been set rumbling and gurgling to life, than the cool summer sheets are ripped mercilessly off the bed and the hefty phlumph of a 13.5 tog duvet hitting the mattress rings out dully throughout the counties. You can wear soggy flip flops all you like, but nesting season is well and truly here.
Dark times are upon us, and I don’t just mean that the nights are drawing in and that it’s still dark when you fight your way out from under your 13.5 togs in the morning, it’s worse than that. While summer was here and we gaily abandoned our sofas in favour of beer garden benches and ant infested picnic rugs, the televisual entertainment was sparse and select. Well now that the weather forces the masses to hole up in close quarters, we are once again to be subjected to the scourge of the earth, the Simon Cowell factory and the troupes of Z-listers, prancing their way to sequined oblivion. As much variety as there is to the vocabulary of a leaf extoller, the televisual offerings have none. It’s almost enough to drive one to read a book. Almost.
One final sign that autumn is here? The shops have been full of Christmas stock for a month.