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October 2006 -Autumnal Rambling

Given the benefit of that most accurate of sciences, hindsight, this month's ought to be one of the best editions of Nick Harvey's Comment that I've ever produced.

That's because my publication deadline is, currently, just five hours and forty-two minutes away, according to the frightening little set of numbers staring at me from the bottom right hand corner of my screen.  It's also because of the total lack, thus far, of any ideas for a subject for discussion in this month's epistle.

There's nothing for in-depth analysis, nothing to be put under Nick Harvey's Acme microscope, nothing even on a hastily scribbled note tucked under the keyboard as as an aide memoir for this particular moment of enforced inspiration each month.

From past experience, therefore, we have all the necessary ingredients in place for an absolutely cracking edition.

Apologies, by the way, to those viewers, out there, who don't particularly like that adjective, almost at the end of the previous sentence; but having been listening to the chappie doing the sport on the local radio station as I drove home this afternoon, it happened to be the first word that came into my mind, for some strange reason.

For those of you who were gently enticed to this page by the somewhat lyrical title, I'm very sorry folks, but there'll be little or no mention of the wonders of countryside rambles over grassy knolls or through autumn mists.

Regular devotees of this load of nonsense will have understood, I'm certain, exactly what was meant by Nick Harvey rambling, long before pages were chosen and mice were pointed and clicked.

I really ought to be able to throw together an edition of Comment in a little under six hours, though.  If we go back far enough in time, I'm sure I used to produce one of these every week, without fail.  Then, I seem to remember, a period where the musings became fortnightly, before I moved on to just the one every month.  The old fellow's winding down gracefully, don't you know?

Actually, by the time this gets published, at midnight tonight, I suppose it'll be illegal for the old fellow to refer to himself as an old fellow; and, most certainly, illegal for him to even consider winding down due to old age.

Do you realise what this new law has done for you, madam?  Our glorious government appear to have sentenced you to regular doses of this load of cobblers until Nick Harvey finally pops his clogs, probably at the age of about one-hundred-and-ten.

Oops!  I nearly broke the law again, there.  I almost dared to call it a load of "old" cobblers, but I expect that expression's been outlawed as well by the new legislation and I'd be incarcerated for the duration were I to use it.

We seem to have a whole load, or is it a raft, of new laws coming into effect on the first of October, don't we?

I mean, provided I go out and get the proper licence, it appears that I can now become, something called, a gangmaster.  If I understand the rules and regulations of this gangmastering correctly, that then entitles me to force any cockle-picking foreigners I might find, to stay out in the sea long beyond their ninetieth birthday.  Sounds like it could be great fun!

I wonder if people of more advanced years wrinkle up more quickly if you leave them in the sea for longer?  And, if so, what will our government be doing to ensure that all this wrinkling is made illegal in the next raft of changes to the laws?  I think we should be told!

As you might have noticed by now, I quite like this word "raft".  It conjures up beautiful images of all our country's lawmakers being collected together on a dubious wooden structure and floated down the Thames and far out to sea.

As they make their way, steadily, down the estuary, they might even be able to gain some first-hand experience of this cockle-picking business, as well.  Just think of it, lawmakers with some knowledge; now there's an unusual concept for you!

So, here we are then, October it is.  Well, it will be in a little over five-and-a-half hours.  And it's autumn, the season of fruity mellowness.  I know it's definitely autumn because someone took the trouble to tell me so.

There's this know-it-all surgeon, you see.  Actually, he'd like you to think that he's the most important surgeon in the land, but I get the feeling that he's extracting a bit more than the odd appendix, if you follow where I'm going.

He said that it must now be autumn because the sun moved to the south of the equator at exactly 5.03am on Saturday the twenty-third of September.

I'm none too sure, precisely, what time he was really referring to, as he omitted to bother explaining whether the 5.03am in question was local time to where I was at the time; local time to where he was at the time; local time to where the sun was at the time; or local time to where the Emperor of Japan might have been at the time.

To badly mis-quote a very old line from a very old Goon Show, it's always 5.03am somewhere!

You can easily recognise autumn, though, without the help of any medical professional.  Just keep a close eye on the farmers.  Hedging and ditching has officially commenced round this neck of the woods this week, and that's a sure sign.

All is safely gathered in, so now it's time for a gentle bit of maintenance of all the boundaries, as the days slowly get shorter and Christmas quietly beckons.

Hey, sorry about that, it was nearly lyrical grassy knolls in the mist, wasn't it?

I really ought not to keep mentioning the mist, you know.  At least we haven't had any of the stuff round here as yet, this season.  It'll be here soon enough without me wishing for it.  It usually seems to appear as October turns into November, for some magical reason, doesn't it?

And fireworks.  They're the other marker for the season, aren't they?  They'll soon be going off in the middle of the afternoon in streets everywhere, won't they?

The lovely children, or do we now have to call them persons of an unspecified age, but with little experience, will soon be terrorising neighbourhoods with explosions big enough to encourage the average Israeli Prime Minister into retaliation with a full-scale war.

There you go, you see.  From lyrical grassy knoll to heavyweight political message in just four paragraphs.  At least you can't say Nick Harvey isn't versatile.

You know, there's one major problem, though, with not having a proper subject for this Comment writing lark.  If there's no proper subject, then there's no chance of digressing, is there?  And with no chance of digression, there's little chance of any real fun.

I mean, at this point in the proceedings, I could go into great detail about having to turn the light on and close the curtains; and bemoan the fact that it must be getting dark a good quarter of an hour earlier than it did yesterday.

I could go on about that for a little while, then pop back to the main subject, unexpectedly, and see if anyone had noticed, couldn't I?  But as there's no main subject to pop away from, then there's nowhere to pop back to, if you manage to follow any of my disjointed drift.

And how will I know when I've finished, I wonder?  I mean, I'm none too sure whether I've started properly yet, so there's little or no hope of me being very certain when, and if, I get to the end.

Perhaps I ought to simply take the lady in the second row's advice and stop now in any case?  I'm fairly sure that's what she's trying to tell me, anyway.

I'll make sure I'm more organised next time, I promise; and I'll try to get the thing written a few days earlier in the month.  It'll be easier with the longer evenings.  It'll be dark a whole lot earlier when I'm writing the next one, as the clocks will have gone back.

So we're agreed, then?  Best if I stop round about now.  November the first is the date for the next one, then.  If you all try not to be late, then I'll try hard to be early.  See you next month.  Right, I'm off, where's me inspiration?

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