Observing winter arriving this year is a little like watching the tide come in: the waves advance and retire, advance and retire and it’s hard to see any difference until at last you notice that the waves are breaking slightly higher up the beach. The fine autumn weather we have enjoyed during these last weeks has been interspersed with cold snaps and rainy days but the sun has each time returned. Nonetheless, the temperature has slid gradually downwards, the daylight has faded earlier and earlier and dawn now comes but tardily.
I continue obstinately to wear my spring-and-autumn jacket, my favourite red one, but soon, no doubt, a particularly cold day will send me reaching for my winter coat, the nondescript beige one with zips and Velcro fastenings, bought a size too large so that it covers my camera in its pouch on my belt and allows me to add layers of clothing until I look like the Michelin man.
Today I have to wait in for the heating engineer, as one of our radiators has developed a leak. It would have been easy just to stay in all day like a hibernating bear, but I was tempted out by the sunshine and the lovely blue sky whose calmly sailing white clouds evinced not the slightest thought of rain.
I was not disappointed. The air was chilly but in sunny spots the sun’s warmth fought with the cold and even overcame it. My ostensible purpose in going out (I find it’s good to have an ostensible purpose even if you ignore it once outside) was to buy a birthday card for my son whose age I would rather not reflect on. Somewhere among the Filofaxes, the partyware and the little boxes of novelties that I cannot imagine anyone ever actually buying, Paperchase had something suitable.
In the N1 Centre, a couple of open-air stalls were putting on a brave show of being the Italian Market. “Italian beeskeets,” announced a stall-holder cheerfully but I walked past him into Borders.
Borders is an irresistible magnet. I find it hard to go past the shop without making a foray inside, however cursory, especially when, as now, there are lots of boxes full of books at reduced prices. I know it’s a waste of time looking through these (they’re here only because no one wants them) so I managed to distract myself with the journal section. I was delighted to find the latest issue of TPM on sale and bought a copy. The price gave me pause, though, seeing as I can remember when magazines cost pence (or at most shillings) rather than pounds. Sign of the times.
So now I’m back home, waiting for the engineer, whose visit has been promised to occur at some moment between 1 and 5 pm. The radiator leak is very slight and I have left a plastic cup underneath it collecting water as proof that there is actually something coming out. Let’s hope the problem is a minor one, of the sort that can be cured with a deft twist of a spanner.