Autumn’s coming. Kill Me Now.
Everyone else seems to love it, but I dread autumn. The first brown leaves send a chill down my spine. I’ve already had the season’s first cold (caught in the UK, of course) and now the nights are shortening, filling me with thoughts of the grave.
This depression arises for several reasons; partly, it’s the thought of December to April, five months under miserable dark skies, I’ve lost so many people in winter and having been born with weak lungs I always get sick in winter, so I associate January with illness and death.
Although Britain has four distinct seasons we don’t celebrate their arrival or departure as they do in Southern Europe. Next week Spain hosts its celebrations marking the end of summer. In Greece the parties move South with the sun, ending in Santorini. In Italy they see in winter and summer with bonfires and fireworks.
Here in Barcelona the chiringuitos (beach cafés) close for the season and the wardrobe changes dramatically. Winter dress is quite formal; you never wear shorts, and don jackets and scarves in muted colours, whereas in London it’s common to see people in T-shirts at Christmas, the English believing that if your body isn’t actually frostbitten summer clothing is still acceptable.
Autumn brings good stuff too, though; the immense London Film Festival, lots of serious theatre, football, and drowsy lunches with friends passed until early nightfall in gastropubs. The Spanish have a great word for this latter event – sobremesa means to linger on after the food has been eaten. (They also have merendar, to have an afternoon snack).
It’s the time I get the most work done, too. I have the new cover rough for ‘The Lonely Hour’ and think it’s the best one yet. I’m currently editing the manuscript, have delivered ‘England’s Finest’ and am preparing to start a new thriller, seeing as ‘Little Boy Found’ appears unlikely to make it into print from its e-book origins. I was equally unhappy about the last short story collection, ‘Frightening’, not becoming a print book, so from now on I’ll only be working on print books – and if I find myself without a deal I’ll crowdfund them.
Speaking of which, the former manager of London’s notorious Scala Cinema, Jane Giles, crowdfunded her immense book about the Scala’s history and hit her funding target in record time. The launch takes place at the old Scala Cinema itself, and tickets for the gig, which will feature live bands and clips, can be bought here. I’ve contributed to this delicious book and to ‘The Art of Pulp Horror’, edited by Steve Jones.
London is bountiful in the winter months, with much to see and do. The difference is that with Brexit looming prices are massively outstripping wages, so few can afford to make the most of this cornucopia, which is largely aimed at tourists. Luckily in the sprawl of such a city there’s culture to suit all pockets, and deals exist if you know where to look.
So it’s not all darkness. Perhaps I’ll look forward to autumn after all. I was once described as having ‘an inappropriately sunny disposition for someone who writes about murderous deeds.’ Frankly, I would have thought it was exactly what’s needed.