By Helena Hanson
I have been waiting for October all year. Autumn is my favourite season. It is winter’s lovelier, sexier, more golden brown, knee high boot-ed cousin. It is the time of the year that Starbuck’s robs us in icy daylight and the referee’s whistle is blown to signal the beginning of house mate heating wars, signifying a long, bloody, painful battle, lasting throughout the winter months.
I love autumn for an abundance of reasons. My favourite thing probably being that nobody expects you to eat salad anymore. The social expectation to consume cold, damp vegetables at some point throughout the week is no more, and it becomes completely acceptable to have potatoes with absolutely every meal. This is made better by the simple fact that all our favourite things in life are suddenly available in a warm temperature, hot wine, hot cider, hot Vimto, lovely.
From October onwards, Sunday roasts become absolutely necessary, no matter how sad they are. Defrost your frozen carrots and peas, microwave your Aunt Bessie’s potatoes and Yorkshires and go without food on the Monday to afford your £4 Lidl cut of beef. It is essential.
Autumn fashion is the best. Ladies, no longer need we shave our legs for weeks and weeks on end. Those fluffy, woolly tights will mask that leg hair like they were made to do so (maybe they were) and those wonderful colours will return that are seldom seen the rest of the year. That rich, pumpkin orange and that deep, voluptuous plum-y purple…delicious. My criminal subconscious has already slowly begun sneaking snuggly clothing from my boyfriend’s wardrobe. I ‘borrow’ all my favourite boyfriend-sized hoodies and jumpers, as the poor soul reluctantly agrees, knowing deep down that he will never wear them again.
Yet many of us are not quite ready to let go of the summer. Yeah, I see you. Desperate to eke out your pretty denim dress for another couple of weeks, clinging frantically to your Birkenstocks and sunglasses. Rugby players, give up your flip flops and shorts and caps, succumb to the cold. Put on a pair of trousers, grab a pair of mittens and some fluffy socks and enjoy being cuddly. You know you want to be cuddly.
It is the season of Harry Potter and onesies and international rugby. The air is crispy and clean. Gone has the sticky, sluggish summer humidity, and the icy, sharp freeze of the winter is not yet upon us. Say goodbye to pugnaciously trembling on the SU stairs, legs and feet frozen stiff from the cool September evening air and say hello to snuggly nights in with your housemates, sharing Tesco Value hot chocolate and marshmallows and fighting over what movie to watch and who gets the fluffiest blanket to hide under.
And, you might as well enjoy it, because watching movies becomes all you are expected to do. Gone is that summer guilt. You know, when it’s a warm, sunny, bright day, and you feel suffocating guilt when you lie around slobbing all day. You can now comfortably stay in the house ALL day and if you do not get up from the sofa for nothing but to wee and eat, that is ok.
That said, all of a sudden, walks become pleasant. What was once a sweaty, uncomfortable, chaffing trek through the park, pools of damp under your armpits and hair sticking to your face, is now a romantic and blustery amble through the intensely golden coloured leaves. You can watch little fluffy creatures stashing their winter nibbles, strategically squirrelling their snacks into the smallest nooks and crannies to keep them safe through the winter months. You can make notes and take tips home, with a better understanding of how to successfully hide your good snacks from your flatmates and also successfully hide them from yourself well enough so that you don’t eat them all before December has even begun.
And yet, even my favourite season has its flaws. Why does absolutely every snack and beverage during autumn HAVE to feature cinnamon? Nobody likes cinnamon, and, without doubt, we will all get fatter. Our winter bodies will keep getting wintery-er and our excess pounds will turn into excess stones. But no fear ladies, the extra layer of fat will serve as an extra layer of insulation and will save on heating costs in the future, and bonus, your snuggly boyfriend jumper will do a great job of hiding your new winter pouch.
Autumn also brings with it bonfire night. A night to spite single people everywhere. You stand and shiver as you watch the couples nuzzle together under the sparkling sky, alight with glowing spirals and sugary twinkles. They draw love hearts with their sparklers and dance home together under the twinkling skies. They leave you crying into your unlit Catherine wheel, broken tooth in hand from your overenthusiastic bite into your toffee apple.
Before we know it, Halloween will also be upon us. It is changing. It is not what I remember from when I was young. As a child, to me, Halloween was being subject to a ‘scary tea party’ that involved plenty of olives and pickled onions and other terrifying looking foods in jars. We would dress up, and parade around to next door, chortling something sickeningly middle-class and politically correct, like “treat for a treat” (which involved SWAPPING sweets with the next door’s kids) (because my parents maintained that threatening to punish the neighbours for not giving us sweets is apparently not very nice) (literally wtf). Now, it seems Halloween is nothing but a painfully commercial escapade, saturating us in orange for a whole month and forcing us to buy into the notion that if we don’t celebrate Halloween, at least to some extent, we are boring bore-ons who are not even worth knowing.
Costumes of today would have made young-me squeal in shock. As a chubby and ginger six year old I was stuffed into a bin bag (with cut up arm holes) with a 70p Safeway’s witch hat and that was my costume. Every year. Until I was about thirteen. A few pretentious friends would buy their costumes, from Asda, or if you were really posh then you’d have a Woolworth’s original Frankenstein costume, or something equally as fancy. For the rest of us, a leopard print Tesco T-shirt would make you a cat, a huge glop of hair gel would make you a vampire, and, apparently, a bin bag would make you a witch. That said, I’m pretty sure one year my mother must have felt sorry for me and treated me to a broomstick. A fraction scarier, perhaps, if I hadn’t spent the whole night pretending to sweep the neighbours gardens with it.
Now, fifteen years later, it seems you can only dress up as something sexualised. For every character and costume idea, there is a ‘sexy’ version. Sexy Cinderella, sexy ladybug, sexy raccoon (this is actual thing, Google it) and I have even seen SEXY PABLO ESCABAR. No, really.
Neighbours during my childhood did not decorate their houses for halloween. If you had a glowing pumpkin in your front porch in the 90’s then you were uber creative and your house was top of the list to either be celebrated or egged, depending on your neighbourhood. Now, entire homes are clad in spider webs and lanterns and lawn decorations that actually cost over £100, as if British kids would do anything apart from kick over and spit on the giant Frankenstein in the front garden.
Autumn is wonderful. Yes, your skin will become shit from the fluctuating hot and cold. Yes, drunk people will throw pinecones at you in Cathays wherever you go. Yes, you will sniff, sniff, sniff your way through the whole season. But it is a beautiful time. Before the stinging Christmas costs, before the identity crisis that comes with New Year, before the January blues. This is now. Crunchy, crispy, cuddly autumn, I’ve never been so glad to see you.