That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou percveiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Did you have a good weekend? It was cheerless, dark and deadly here, although I wasn’t too downcast. Then, sadly, ‘Northern Sky’ got played on the radio on Sunday morning, and after standing in a reverie for a few minutes, I thought ‘Ooh! I haven’t listened to Nick Drake for aaages! Let’s stick Bryter Layter on!’ So I was preparing Sunday lunch, singing along, quite happy. And then the last song (it’s actually an instrumental) ‘Sunday’ came on. And an overwhelming feel of melancholy came over me.
So of course, like the fool that I am, I put on Pink Moon. Yes. I know. Definitely not the album to listen to when rain is lashing the windows, all the lights are on because outside is dark and storm-tossed, and you’re already feeling prone to tears. The title track makes me feel kickarsely vengeful and vaguely angry, after that it’s all downhill until I reach ‘From the Morning’ and imagine it’s actually about dead people, and souls ascending to heaven. So like the masochist I am, I then dug out ‘Black Eyed Dog’, because I needed to feel worse as I peeled potatoes. And ‘Time of No Reply’ followed. Have you heard it? Opening lines:
Summer was gone and the heat died down.
And Autumn reached for her golden crown.
I looked behind as I heard a sigh,
But this was the time of no reply.
And then I remembered that I Hate Autumn.
I do, I really do. I hate it because it’s the terminal period of the year. It starts off promisingly with the last few sunny and warm days of the year, then just descends into misty, rainfilled days of feeling cold, conkers dropping on your head and pretending that you give a toss about Halloween. Throughout autumn I feel like I’m already mourning the loss of someone who is going to die soon, but is still hanging around, and honestly, you’d prefer it if they just shuffled off this mortal coil before Tuesday because the waiting for something you know is inevitable is torture. I hate it.
I can’t get that worked up about winter. Winter is just THERE, being grey, bleak and dismal. Autumn is hateful because it offers you a teeny weeny little sliver of hope: ‘It’s quite a warm day for October!’ before slamming you in the face with stair rods of rain and gusting winds. Autumn is having to wear tights and an extra jumper. Autumn is querying whether it’s time to put the heating on, or write this wearing your dressing gown over clothes. Autumn is relegating your nice shoes to the back of the wardrobe and zipping up your Doc’s. I hate it.
There is no hope in Autumn. You know that the next six months (usually more when you live in the UK) are going to be grim and damp, so dig out the thermal underwear, flex the hot water bottle and settle in for misery. You can dress it up however you like by pretending to be cheerful and saying how lovely and cosy the house is, but we all know that’s bollocks. The house is cosy because outside is so unspeakably dreary that anything else is an improvement. I hate it.
The school run in Autumn is more aggravating than at other times of the year. Cold, wet, dark, stalking through miles of knee deep leaf mulch on the pavements, dodging other peoples umbrellas as they hold them at improbable angles, seemingly designed to take your eye out whilst also affording them zero visibility of other pavement users. And the crappy roads round here collect massive puddles that cause passing cars to send up sheets of dirty rainwater to soak me and The Blondies, making us shriek. I hate it.
And people try to passively aggressively find ways of cheering themselves up about Autumn. ‘Halloween! Dressing up! Trick or treat! Toffee apples!’ Firstly, I do not want to see every other woman dressed up as a slutty vampire/slutty witch/slutty devil. Secondly, we have electric gates at the top of the drive for a reason. Thirdly, toffee apples are rank. ‘Bonfire Night! Remember, remember, the fifth of November!’ Yeah. I’d love to stand in a boggy field for a few hours, freezing my tits off, freaking out about The Blondies going crazy with sparklers, eating a half cooked jacket potato, and then dealing with the inevitable screaming meltdown when both children remember that they hate fireworks and are deeply traumatised by them. I hate it.
Autumn is raking up acres of fallen leaves, reflecting on a job well done, then giving a little inward sigh as the next breath of wind instantly undoes all your good work. Autumn is realising that your east facing house will not see daylight for the foreseeable future. Autumn is packing away the sunlounger, scraping the barbecue and locking the garden toys in the garage. Autumn sucks all the joy and fun out of life. Au revoir joie, bonjour tristesse. I hate it.
If I had my way, the first of October would be a signal to hunker down in a little homemade wicker basket, cover myself up with blankets, pull down the lid and hibernate until the first day of December (if you think I’m missing out my birthday, Christmas, and carol singing at the Unthank, then you do not know me). But it isn’t. Instead it’s the signal to gird your loins, put on your raincoat and prepare to be cheerless, dark and deadly. And for that, I hate it.