Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sodden English summers, SAD and NICE

I feel sun deprived, one day after arriving back from sunbleached Spain. I woke up this morning to hear torrential rain falling onto the garden. This gave way to the fine spray that soaks even the deepest foliage. I don't think that I can remember a 'summer' like this. How is it possible that there won't be an epidemic of SAD, when large numbers of newspapers will recount in great detail the exploits of English, Scots and Welsh throwing themselves off bridges or overdosing on prescription drugs because of an overwhelming depression that follows the old-fashioned 'typical' English summer?

I only say this because the Elephant in the Room is now beginning to make himself visible - only slightly, of course. You don't want to expose him too quickly. I've noted with a kind of ironic humour just how many plays this year made it to the boards at Edinburgh that dealt with some kind of mental affliction. Looks like quite a number. And how many new books are being published that offer up some kind of depression or addiction problems as the main subject? Bill Oddie is about to have his autobiography on the shelves and there's Ruby Wax and her one-woman show. So it's there and it's kinda not there... We'll try to talk about it but really don't want to and the discussion shows will skirt around it and I'll try not to do a Radio Leicester too often, when the so-called experts tell us that no one actually dies because of mental illness - well, not any more, of course...

Which leads us back to the English summer and downpours and grey evenings and getting wet walking the mutt and my hang-dog expression when I lead him home, envisaging drying him off and brushing him down - and this shouldn't be happening yet. It should be happening at the end of October when the leaves are carpeting the streets and there's something quite heartening about the shorter days and crisper mornings. But it's still only August and crisp freckled leaves are already making their presence on the Heath and I can see the blackberries - those that haven't turned to mush on the sodden bushes - aching to be picked.

Time goes too quickly. It was just Wimbledon and the hopes of long sunlit days and evenings having a drink on the terrace in the summer heat; now it's practically autumn and we're thinking of winter clothes and, no doubt, the Christmas decorations will show their faces in stores desperate for any sales in this media induced recession. So the families who are literally having to tighten their belts because food is so expensive and who will be unable to pay their gas and electricity bills or their mortgages will consider another year without sun, hoping that NICE will extend payment for anti-depressants and the whole shebang begins again but no one will notice the Elephant.

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