I love autumn. It may be a cliché to harp on about its colours and the smell of bonfires and the transition from wearing the same old pair of shorts to digging out your favourite cable-knit, but it is my second-favourite season. Spring is first; I’m immune to blue eyes but a sucker for a blue sky.
But autumn is beautiful; there’s no getting away from that.
Winter lashes at you with freezing rain and skies greyer than George Clooney’s hair, summer either burns you half to death or disappoints you by not turning up at all, but autumn dazzles you with its good looks, charm and invitations to social events. Trouble is, you can’t date autumn. The leaves would get everywhere.
In spring and summer, it’s fine to be single. People spend most of their time outside, showing acres of flesh, which naturally facilitates flirtation. There are summer flings, and holiday romances. Parties and get-togethers, sure, but the hotter seasons seem to have a much more relaxed air about them.
It’s the time to hang around in a large group of friends, formal occasions are barely a consideration and, a few bank holidays aside, summer likes to keep it unofficial.
“Turn up when you like”, it says, “we’ll be there all day.”
No milestones, no red letter days, just sunshine, cheap prosecco and a spring in your step. Autumn, however, much like Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, works best as a duet. Here’s why:
Loads of birthday parties
Thanks to the preceding generation (and, of course, endless generations before it) enjoying drunken, Christmas, New Year and January sex, there are piles of birthday parties to attend in September.
Attending these alone is no big deal unless you’re cripplingly shy, but the conversation inevitably steers itself toward your search for a significant other, even if you’re not looking that hard.
“And how old are you next birthday? Oh, really? SevenTEEN, eh? Are you hoping to settle down soon?”
Next is Halloween, with its associated parties and fancy dress opportunities. Some couples like to dress up in outfits which complement each other. Whether you think this is bloodcurdlingly twee or really ‘cute’ depends on how bitter, scornful and, in my case, drunk you are. As a lone traveller, your datelessness can stand out a little more.
Sometimes, horror upon horror, there will be a fellow single person there, perhaps in a similar costume to you, and people will assume you’re together.
Or worse, said fellow bachelor will take this as a sign that he should come over and chat you up. You will peer intently into your bright green vodka jelly, hoping it will suddenly come to life and swallow you up whole, while he drones on about his job and the new flat he’s trying to buy.
This flat is always above a Tesco Express and a 27-minute walk from the nearest station. As you’ll find out when you stagger home from it the next day.
As a single person you will, of course, be expected to dress in a ‘sexy’ Halloween costume. You will usually need a decent midriff and thighs of oak. Good luck prepping for those.
Other single people in sexy Halloween costumes are the absolute worst. We all like to be noticed, but it seems the only-child gene really kicks in a week either side of 31 October. A pair of speedos, ghost makeup and vampire fangs do not a costume make, boys.
Try not to walk into oncoming traffic as you watch couples buying pumpkins to carve out together and post on Instagram. I know it’s tempting to run over to them and scream, “I’d love to be hollowing out a pumpkin with someone I love but instead every man I meet hollows out my HEART” – but you’d be killing their vibe.
Only a few days after is Bonfire Night, where couples will snuggle round the fire in a friend’s back yard or go en masse to “ooh” and “aah” at the local fireworks display, pausing only to look at each other with a milky-eyed expression, in mutual appreciation of the colossal amount of gunpowder exploding in the air above them.
The nearest you get to an “ooh ahh” is listening to Gina G, drunk, alone, after you get home. And your hair smells like a burnt-out car.
The death-slide to Christmas
Once you hit mid-November, party season is in full swing. The shops are full of Christmas lights and decorations and ‘Gifts for Him’ points-of-sale in Boots, filled with all manner of video boxsets, crap shaving foam and atrocious novelty ties and golfing mugs.
You wander round the high street, slack-jawed and SINGLE, witnessing couples have arguments a throaty staccato whisper in John Lewis, or watch guys panicking over what to buy their other halves. Yes! I’m sure she’d love Homer Simpson cufflinks! Buy them!
And when it comes to gifts, who can forget the thrill of the festive freak-out when the person you’ve been dating for three weeks solemnly hands over a massive Christmas present wrapped in a huge bow, when all you can offer in return is, well, a half-full cup of tepid mulled wine.
Ugh, mulled wine – made from the embittered blood of those who don’t have a date for their work’s Christmas do. Mulled wine at a Christmas market is only really tolerable if you’re sipping it while gazing into the winter-stung face of somebody who fancies you.
Autumn, along with the beginnings of winter, is for couples. To keep warm, you need to move closer. But you can’t move closer to thin air. You have to resort to extra jumpers, hand-warmers, a blankie.
Autumn is for kicking up golden leaves while walking in the park arm-in-arm and adjusting each other’s woolly hats. It’s #instalove.
You shouldn’t be alone. Make haste, then, and line up a temporary diversion to see you through to January, at least. You deserve a full stocking on Christmas Day – and Santa’s busy elsewhere. Next stop: winter boyfriend.