I walked into town this morning, four and a half miles gently downhill into the bowl of London, the chalk basin where Soho, Mayfair, Bloomsbury, Marylebone and divers other of the villages that constitute the West End have their jostling, bumptious beings.

There’s that thing in the air. That thing. That thing that goes with the first yellowing of the leaf, the hint of chill in the air, the extra urgency of bicycles and the bright blue brand new George of Asda V-necks worn by schoolchildren on the pavements starting the new school year. That thing that stings the nostrils and fills the brain with an equal measure of dread and delight.

And the conkers. Conkers gleaming like jewels in their split pods. Conkers rolling into the road, splattered by four-by-fours late for the school gates. Conkers ready to be strung and swung in the playground.

Summer, spring and winter have their qualities, their affinities and associations (“Where are the songs of spring? Aye, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too” or words to that effect) but this time of year alone summons the terrors of termtime.


That thing is as delicious as it is dreadful. A terrible memory and a memory for which one yearns.

Or perhaps it’s just me.