And you thought autumn was about falling leaves...

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The Independent Online

It has started to happen already. People saying that autumn is here. Radio voices telling us that today is the first official day of autumn. Forecasters saying that autumn is in the air. But then you look outside, and it still looks like summer because it's a lovely sunny day and people are walking about without jerseys. So how do we know when autumn is here?

It has started to happen already. People saying that autumn is here. Radio voices telling us that today is the first official day of autumn. Forecasters saying that autumn is in the air. But then you look outside, and it still looks like summer because it's a lovely sunny day and people are walking about without jerseys. So how do we know when autumn is here?

Easy.

You cut out this list of Signs of Autumn, and tick them all off, one by one.

Go on.

You see, you'll know autumn is getting serious when:

* After two nice days in a row, everyone starts using the phrase "Indian summer", though they haven't the faintest idea why it's called that.

* Hollywood's summer blockbusters creep out shamefacedly on video.

* TV programmes you had hoped were dead and buried for all time suddenly return for "a new season".

* Pumpkins sprout in shops overnight.

* So do all the broomsticks, pointed hats and witches' masks that they couldn't sell last year.

* Huge marrows appear on walls outside people's houses, as if to say, "Yes, I am big and watery and tasteless, and even the man who grew me doesn't want me, but at least I am free, so please just take me".

* You look up at the glittering stars one clear night, and say to yourself, "I really must learn all their names before it's too late...".

* And you cut out one of those features from the paper called "The Stars This Month" or "The Night Sky In October"...

* And you lose it.

* You start noticing diaries on sale, even though they've been on display for months.

* A relation rings you up and says, "Well, we had them for Christmas last year, so it's your turn..."

* You finally get round to picking blackberries, only to find they've turned to pulp on the branch.

* The lawnmower conks out halfway through the final cut of the lawn.

* You inexplicably wake up in the middle of the night and realise that it's actually time to get up, you only thought it was the middle of the night because it was still dark.

* For the first time in six months you think of trying to locate your bedroom slippers.

* Instead of giving old clothes to Oxfam, you start keeping them for Guy Fawkes.

* There are no more articles in the papers with wonderful ideas for barbecues and picnics and summer outings.

* Or telling you how to get lovely and thin for the beach.

* (Though, oddly, they are never replaced by articles telling you "How to get Lovely and Plump for the Christmas Season"...)

* There are no more bank holidays, no more senseless seaside scrambles, no more mad motorway mêlées.

* Only leaves on the railway lines and last-minute bargains in the sun.

* Someone says, "I like the way you've just mowed one half of your lawn..."

* Gardens stop being opened to the public.

* Arboreta start gearing up for the dead-leaf season.

* Someone says, "I can never remember - do clocks go back or forward in October?".

* You get the first newspaper warnings about pipe-lagging.

* And the first Christmas-getaway suggestions.

* Cricket pitches start to recover.

* Coughs and colds come back.

* Bonfires start to burn.

* Croquet sets come in.

* Barbecues fill with water.

* Gloves reappear.

* Birds get fed.

* Etc, etc, etc.

For full list of signs of autumn, please send SAE and a signed blank cheque

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