Monday, 5 September 2022


It’s that exquisite time of year when blackberries are at their juiciest and leaves begin to think of falling (but not just yet) and we start to think of new beginnings. New School. University. New job. It’s the season of change. It started last Friday and ends on the last day of November. 

Why blackberries are bitter & how to fix it - Ask the Food Geek

It used to be called “harvest” when we were a fully rural economy. Then the Latin “autumnus” - which derived from augere “to increase.” This verb's perfect participle auctus means “rich” (as in a “rich season”). I really like the idea of Autumn as a rich reason in the sense of harvest and abundance. The alternative “fall” started in the UK and then more widely in the 17th century as a poetic counterpart to “Spring.”  The Americans sensibly took it and made it their norm as, being shrewdly literal, this is the season when leaves fall.  Maybe our continued use of “Autumn” reflects the difference between the literally minded Americans and our own enjoyment of long words. Yes that’s…incontrovertible.

But this year “fall” may seem more descriptive than usual. It’s not likely to be  a bumper harvest of anything  after that drought nor is the economy looking too rosy. The next quarter doesn’t look like being a rich season at all.

Is Britain in drought yet? | The Times

Meanwhile I’m fascinated to see how resourceful people are being. Ghastly thick knit sweaters are emerging from cupboards. Sales of foil are rising ready to be stuck behind radiators. Jamie Oliver is digging out money-saving family menus in his own inimitable cheerful way “oh my Lord – that’s gorgeous” style. We are entering a season of draught proof curtains, a season of mists and thermal underwear. 

What are warm banks and why are they opening? | The Independent


Warm banks,” we’re told are to be set up in art galleries, museums and libraries to help people unable to heat their homes as energy prices soar. The Guardian reports that pensioners in Swansea are buying books from charity shops for just a few pence each and taking them home for fuel. With temperatures plummeting and energy costs rising , thick books like encyclopaedias are particularly sought after.

A certain, not entirely surprising, mood of hysteria has swept through  the British media as we await a new Prime Minister and cabinet. This is beginning to feel not like the fall of leaves but the fall of something more important. Like the fall of the Roman Empire. 

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) Poster #1 - Trailer Addict

The fall of assumptions that this good life we’ve been enjoying for so long is a given. Or the fall in a more biblical sense. There’s a song by The Little River Band (1978) with the lines

“I tried to explain our fall from paradise was meant to be

 it's written down for all to hear, there's not much time, the time is near “


Yes….something like that. We all probably feel that maybe it was all too good to last. Like a bull market. But we have those pragmatic series of energy saving and money saving strategies and one other thing. Optimism. Not the media who are predictably downbeat. Walk the streets of Brighton on Saturday and it’s a cheerful place. I remain astonished by how resilient and good humoured people are.


Finally a personal fall, spectacularly, from a ladder in our garden two weeks ago. I ended up with possibly cracked ribs and general aches and pains but, do you know, I really see the funny side, the Chaplinesque absurdity of my doing something really stupid and avoidable.

Safety Guidelines for Working with Ladders – SafeStart


So welcome to fall. We shall survive. And we’ll help those less fortunate than us as we always do. Happy soft landings.



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