Well, autumn’s well and truly here, and what leaves the trees are managing to cling onto have a sad, defeated air. In a certain light you can just make out their little fingers clutching at the stern branch that seems so determined to kick them out into the wide world. Listen closely and you might even hear their frightened cries as they plunge into the abyss.

On a walk today I was impressed by the colour of a leaf lying beneath a horse chestnut. I picked it up, so distressing the small black beetle who had taken up residence beneath that I quickly replaced it. We are all entitled to some privacy, after all.
But now a problem. The path before me was coated with summer suicides in riotous russets and yellows and reds, each of which might form a roof for some tiny, sheltering creature. Where could I possibly tread? With each pace I might commit murder – by the time I reached the end of this tree-lined road I could be guilty of genocide.
Fortunately a simple solution offered itself.
With one step (more of a leap, actually) I cleared the gutter and gained the less leaf-strewn safety of the road. There, in the company of many appreciative motorists who heralded my progress with their horns and approving cheers, I could walk freely. I believe I reached home with my karma unblemished.
It would be a welcome change if the colour of the curtains could be other than grey, but there it is. The clouds have been drawn, the sun has done the sensible thing and moved somewhere warmer, and for the next five months if we want light we have to make our own.
There are two good things about winter: Christmas and Russian gas. Christmas because it gives me the opportunity to cook a lot of food, which is something I love doing. I don’t care if anyone comes to eat it, in fact I’d probably rather they didn’t – then I could eat it all myself. There are also Christmas Carols, which are the only songs I know all the words to.
Then there is Russian gas (we live in UK and all our gas comes from Russia now). It is so much better than the vapid, weak English gas we had before. How can I explain the difference? Picture a group of Morris dancers on your village green (yes? All tinkling bells and fluttering hankies?) – now conjure up the image of those wild men of the Bolshoi with their kicking heels. See? Who can resist that pulsing, sombre romance in their pipes? The doom-laden thud of ignition when the boiler turns on fills my soul with thoughts of love and death and I have been known to break spontaneously into the Volga Boat Song at half-past six in the morning.
And the last good thing about winter is the shortening of the days. I don’t get on with days…..