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OPINION: Jumpers, fires and better telly: It’s time to embrace autumn’s simple wonders

PUBLISHED: 10:51 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 09 September 2020

Autumn begins in two weeks - and James Marston says it's a time to embrace simplicity and being cosy after a tough spring and summer

Autumn begins in two weeks - and James Marston says it's a time to embrace simplicity and being cosy after a tough spring and summer

Family Veldman

There’s an Indian Summer on the way, but after that we steamroll straight into autumn, which gets columnist James Marston very excited

It’s almost autumn.

I can smell it in the mornings can’t you? The season is changing, jumpers and the heating will be going on soon.

It is one of my favourite times of year, not least because as a generously proportioned gentleman I don’t much like the searing heat of high summer, perhaps because of the stunning colours, the mellow fruitfulness, the crisper softer air.

In France, where I once lived, this time of year is also known as La Rentrée – the return to school, work and normality. Restaurants reopen, the streets and cafés fill up, the political life of France resumes, I remember it as an exciting time, a defined moment in the rhythm of France’s national life.

Experience told me that while La Rentrée might last just a few weeks before the strike season gets going, it is a time of optimism and opportunity.

I think we’d be forgiven for thinking there’s not much to be cheerful about at the moment. Coronavirus cases in Norfolk and in Suffolk, the shocking shooting in Kesgrave, vandalism of a church in Norfolk by a child, economic worries, travel difficulties, face masks, ever changing rules to follow, questions no one knows the answer to, the so-called ‘new normal’, the high street, the aviation industry, anxiety, exam results, jobs, domestic abuse, going back to school, mental health, worry.

2020 has been no joke and there seems to be no let up.

Winter is coming and if we are to believe what we are being told, it’s going to get tricky again; the fear is already being ramped up. And although the human condition is one of hope but this itself is a challenge and a struggle – keeping hopeful is so much easier said than done.

Of course, these times will pass, it won’t always be like this. The underlying anxiety of which we are all experiencing – even though we don’t always recognise it – will lift eventually.

And while we might not have the quasi-formal optimism of La Rentrée and the news might all to easily seem depressing I can’t help thinking that we ought not lose sight of some of the simpler things we can look forward to at this time of year;

Log fires - cosy

Wearing jumpers - lovely

The national celebration of bonfire night – they’ll be a firework somewhere

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Cool comfortable temperatures – at last

Comfort food - delicious

Better TV - let’s hope so.

Seasonal fruit and vegetables – nice

My birthday on September 14, I will be 39 plus VAT.

A hoar frost.

The beauty and power of a rough sea and a bleak beach – and there’s plenty of those in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The golden light and glorious colours of the countryside

Christmas – love it or loathe it is comes round every year

With an R in the month, apparently, there’s things we can eat as well – though I can’t remember what they are.

Autumn might not be an easy time but I think there’s much we can enjoy as well – and sometimes it is the simpler things of life that are the best.

2020 might have had its ups and downs but there’s no reason why we can’t focus on the ups if it helps get us through these strange times.

On a personal note: On Sunday I got ordained priest, it was, for me a spiritual moment and a moment of excitement pointing towards all the hope and expectation of the future.

Despite the restrictions the service in the cathedral at Bury St Edmunds included choral music, an organ fanfare, the traditional ordination prayers, the laying on of hands by the bishop, and a sense of occasion for those taking part. The verger was rushed off her feet though. For those who have asked me what it was like, I can only describe it as a moment of peace, fulfilment, excitement and, above all, gratitude to God all rolled into one., quickly followed by a deep sense of happiness and sense of purpose for the years ahead. Thanks to all who sent cards and emailed good wishes, I was deeply touched and it was very thoughtful of you.


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