Autumn is darkness, and all the roaring fires and dancing candle-flames and copper-strung fairy-lights are only here to fight it back a littleby Ella Risbridger / November 14, 2019 / Leave a comment
It is hard to know what to say about autumn; it’s hard to know what could be new to tell you. You know it all already: leaves turning, a faint smell of smoke on the air, four o’clock golden light falling softly like an Instagram filter through leaded windows onto rumpled knitwear and dappled velvet. Apples. Pumpkins. Heirloom everything. Perfect drops of rain leaving diamond dashes down the glass. Firelight. Candlelight. Le Creuset. Wellies, waxed jackets, wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. Tweed. Cashmere. Flasks.
Or, as the writer Natasha Hodgson put it, “all Book Women mouthing off about Big Jumpers and oooh cosy autumn cosy back to school!!! oh what about a stew isn’t it nice to be wet and cold SHUT UP I ALREADY GRIEVE THE LIGHT YOU KNITTY NERDS.”
While I might not have phrased it exactly like this myself, it’s hard not to concede the point. The autumn people reappear each September, rosy-cheeked and as bright-eyed as squirrels. Each September the catalogues sell back to us this wild fetishisation of the dying of the light, swathed in cashmere and tweed and twining vines. (Dylan Thomas wouldn’t stand for it; and while Keats might be all for it, forgive me if I don’t take advice on Autumnal damp from the tubercular dead.)
For it’s a very particular kind of autumn, the autumn in writing; the autumn for sale. It’s not a city autumn, not really—although striding down cobbled streets is always popular, and so is laughing in parks. Autumn in the city is mostly shame-faced scrabbling in your purse for something for the beggars on the Overground, of never being the right temperature for anything—jumper and big coat on the rush-hour Central line = instant sauna—of SAD lamps, Vitamin D tablets and trying to discreetly hoik your tights up on the 205 bus. It’s not even a country autumn, by actual country standards: there’s nothing picturesque about acres of mud, and waiting for years for late buses at lonely bus-stops in the dark, and the house never getting warm no matter what you do.
Let’s call it a prestige autumn, an autumn of unimpeachable and timeless Englishness. Now, look. It’s not—of course, it’s not—a political statement to love autumn. I have a nearly fatal case of Autumn Girl myself. I write this from the…