Wednesday, 31 October 2018

When the leaves are turning ...

Autumn is my least favourite season, especially after the clocks have changed. I don't do well when it is cold, but it's a lot to do with daylight as well. I don't like winter either, but at least after the solstice the nights begin to get lighter and you know that something better is on the way, whereas in autumn it's just a lot of cold and dark to look forward to.

Which makes it surprising that I have a few ideas for books bothering me at the moment that want to set themselves at this time of the year. I think it is because they have a spooky, supernatural element, and this time of the year lends itself. Halloween and all that. I'm thinking - or they are - books in waiting can get quite stroppy on occasion - more in the way of folklore and old stories and some hedge witchery,  rather than ghouls and ghosts and people flitting about on broomsticks. It's all been helped along by a lecture at the university last week about the time around Halloween - Martinmass and St Martin's day, which is on the 11th November. Apparently it was a time of celebration of the harvest with feasts and fairs stretching over up to eight days - St Martin's Fairs and Mop Fairs and Goose Fairs and Hiring Fairs are all connected, and there's Guy Fawkes in the mix too. The idea of a time of potential misrule has possibilities.

Guy Fawkes night has rather been overtaken by Halloween in the last few years, with the emphasis now on 5th November on large, organised, and safer public displays of fireworks. Communal bonfires, with wood collecting going on for weeks before the event, fireworks in the back garden and making a guy and collecting pennies on the street corner all seem to be fading away - quaint and old fashioned. And 11th November is, of course, marked with poppies as Remembrance or Armistice Day, rather than a saint's feast day.

But the idea of a fair or celebration over a few days in autumn, with an other worldly element to it? Well, as I've said, there are ideas brewing. Will they win, over my preference for sunshine?

We'll all just have to wait and see.

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