Ah November, season of damps cramps colds and most of the birthdays in my family. It was B's yesterday, and - apart from having to go to work to pay for it all - we had a pretty nice day and some great pizza and wine at Pizza Express - still our favourite place to eat in spite of my not winning their invent-a-pizza competition (I came second. To be fair, the winning one was delicious, but I could have done with the prize money).
It hasn't been very cold but it has been quite damp: not raining, but foggy and condensation-y all over. And most days have been dark, too, overcast and foggy all day, with a few stunningly beautiful exceptions.
We put our clocks back two weeks ago, making the mornings lighter - although that did not last for long - and the evenings set in an hour earlier. As I type, at ten past three in the afternoon, it is too dull indoors not to have the lights on and it feels the dark is closing in. On some days now, we go out in the morning twilight and come home in darkness. It feels very Northern (though I suppose it could equally feel Southern, only in 6 months time). It also feels as though we should be spending much more time asleep than we actually do. The instinct to hibernate has always been strong in me (I may be closer to our burrowing ancestors than most people you'll meet), but I notice that the cats are sleeping much more (even) than usual.
The other things this time of year brings include colds and coughs. It's our second autumn back in England and only the first cold for both of us, so we've done pretty well, but it was a goodie. I blame the students.
Seriously, I do. In every class there is at least one student, and often three or four out of 16, with a massive cold but no hanky or tissues, and no idea that a rhythmic snuffling every 5 seconds gets tiresome after the first few hours. I'm considering inventing swine flu/bird flu/elephant flu/cat flu rumours to encourage everyone to wear those hygienic masks popular in Japan. I've read that the masks are not actually that useful but I don't care - it gives something to catch the.. ahem.. effluvia.
Richard II was said to be a pretty useless king of England. Shakespeare portrays him as vacillating, self-pitying and feeble in the play of the same name. Richard's cousin Bolingbroke certainly thought so, and decided he would make a much better king himself. He got the crown and sent Richard off to Pontefract, where he may have been stabbed or may have been starved, but in any case rapidly became unfit for consideration due to being dead.
But Richard is supposed to have brought the handkerchief into use in England and for that alone he deserves a statue... possibly one placed in every language school in the country, where students can observe, mark and follow his example.
If they won't, I wonder whether Pontefract castle still has dungeons? Just a thought.