It's autumn, the season of mists and upset stomachs

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The Independent Online

If you go down to the woods today, you'd better take your wallet with you, because it's end-of-season sale time, and every tree you pass is down to its last few leaves. Yes, it's everything-must-go time again and that's because it's...

If you go down to the woods today, you'd better take your wallet with you, because it's end-of-season sale time, and every tree you pass is down to its last few leaves. Yes, it's everything-must-go time again and that's because it's...

Autumn!

Shiny conkers in chestnut brown, scarlet maple coming down, yellow beech reduced to sell, sorry about the bonfire smell, but that's because it's...

Autumn!

Oh, yes, we all say we love summer and we pretend we don't want it ever to finish, but really, did you see the shape she was in at the end? Well, my dear, she was a disgrace, she could hardly find a thing to wear, she was sagging all over. And as for those blossoms we used to think were so gorgeous, they were an absolute mess, it was far better to put her out of her misery and replace her with...

Autumn!

What was it the poet said? Season of tum ti tum ti tum.... Oh, yes, I've got it!

Season of mellow forgetfulness,

Sweep the leaves and clear the mess,

Pick the nuts and hang the hams,

Make the sugary raspberry jams...

Of course, autumn is not just a woman thing. It's for men as well. In fact, many of you men may not have faced autumn in open combat before, and you're probably quaking in your boots, but you'll survive all right as long as you remember these three simple rules of self-preservation:

1) Don't step on any twigs.

2) Don't rustle any leaves.

3) Don't eat any fungus that is not clearly marked "Fit For Eating" by the Ministry of Defence.

Any questions? What's wrong with leaf-rustling? Good question. Because it's against the law, that's why. Every year thousands of tons of leaves are stolen away at night by ruthless rustlers, secretly exported and sold overseas as cheap window-dressing or mulch, leaving the British forest-floor bare and unprotected! That is why I have committed my government to stamping out leaf-rustling in the near future, as you will hear in the Queen's Speech!

Yes, the Queen's Peach was just one of the fruits that you voted into the Top 10 Autumn Fruits of All Time this year, the other nine being the Prince's Quince, A Spare Pear, A Damson in Distress, Plum Crazy, Artificial Hips, Medium Sloe and Three Unwarranted Medlars. And don't forget that the lines are still open for you to vote on The Big Reed! Yes, now it's your chance to choose the Top 10 Sedge and Wetland Plants of All Time!

"I've pulled in this knight at arms, Sarge. We found him acting suspiciously. Down where the sedge is withered from the lake. Yes, and no birds sing, that's the place. Booked him for being alone and palely loitering. Goes on about some lady who led him astray. Likely story!" But nothing is impossible when it's...

Autumn! For a limited season only! Must end in December! Book now by ringing the Autumn Hotline, and don't forget to buy your CD of the show, with such great songs as "Squelchin' in the Rain", "Here's Mud in your Eye", and:

Season of mists and morning fog,

Kick the cat and walk the dog,

Spray away the ticks and fleas,

And try once more to make damson cheese.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, someone said. He obviously hadn't been out and about in the autumn, when you can lunch royally on wild fruit and nuts, washed down with a swig of rainwater, and it's all free and gratis!

WARNING: If you should experience griping pains or indigestion after your free hedgerow lunch, don't say we didn't warn you, because it's all part of the Autumn Experience, sure as God made little green apples and grinding stomach-ache!

Would you like to know more about the Autumn Experience? Just send a stamped addressed envelope and cross my palm with silver...

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