12 August, 2006

Western wind

There's been a hint of autumn in the air today.

When I was out earlier not only were the skies grey and heavy with rain, but leaves were falling off trees and beginning to collect on the pavement and in gutters. A breeze was blowing, different to the ones of late, in that it was tinged with a chill. People were wearing coats and making a point of not walking slowly. Their faces weren't turned up to the sky, but cast down to the ground. A mournful, subdued atmosphere leaked out of shops and businesses. Very few voices could be heard.

I'm tempted to declare here and now that summer is over, but I know that if I did I'd be proved wrong within a week and we'd suddenly be plunged back into blistering sun-drenched hell.

Indeed, I read that one of the few responsibilities ceded to John Prescott in Tony Blair's absence is that of co-ordinating the government's response to any likely future heatwave (along with taking charge of a new report on Britain's stock of seabass).

Hopefully this was done out of jest at the fact, or the hope, that there most certainly will not be another heatwave ever in this country while Blair remains in office. Fingers crossed on that score.

Still, given it gets dark around 8pm now, and the mornings aren't so fiercely light quite so early, even if the hot weather did return it wouldn't be anywhere near as relentless as last month or have such a punitive grip on nighttime temperatures. The August bank holiday isn't that far away either, and that's always a symbolic marker between the vast barren wilderness of the summer and the onset of the evocative, wistful sirens of autumn.

A portent of sorts was in evidence on the Underground last night, where the carriages weren't just a lot more empty than usual (I've no idea why), but a great deal more cooler as well.

It's been a thankless couple of months, and the sooner they're over the better. I know I'll have to go through it all again next year, but at least then I'll know what to expect.


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