Miles Kington: Face it - summer was never all it was cracked up to be

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"Mum, have we got to autumn yet?"

"Dad, how will we know when we get to autumn?"

"Oh, what does autumn look like?"

"What are the main symptoms of autumn, and can it be cured?"

"How big are the chances of being knocked over by autumn in the street, and what if anything are the police doing about it?"

These are some of the commonest questions we get asked here at the Autumn Advisory Board, and our basic message to you, as every year, is: Don't Worry! Don't Panic!

And don't believe us. Listen to our satisfied customers.

"I used to be a spring sort of person," says Doris L, "but since winning the grand prize in this year's Autumn Sweepstake, I have become more of an end-of-our-days sort of person. See you in Stockholm!"

"I have become convinced that autumn is good for the planet," says Al G. "Summer burns it up. Springs demands too much energy. But the great thing about autumn is that – hello, can you hear me? Hello? Hello?"

Yes, we can, and the message is that summer is well and truly over. The croquet set has gone back in the box for another year, and the only strawberries available now are the Californian Tasteless variety, as big as a rock and half as tasty.

But don't groan and don't grieve, because – be honest - summer was never all it was cracked up to be anyway, and now it's time to put away the greasy barbecue set and the wine-stained deck chairs and settle down to enjoy ... autumn!

So browse through our new Autumn catalogue, and choose from such mouth-watering options as:

Misty Romantic Mornings

Dusky Impressionist Evenings

Nostalgic Bonfire Smells

Traditional Pick-Your-Own Field Mushrooms, which might or might not be toadstools

The evocative cordite smell of fireworks, which may or may not be a nearby terrorist bomb

And, to cap it all, Hallowe'en! Picture the romantic scene, if you will. A group of small children approach the door and knock. The door opens slowly. The children are wearing little masks and waving plastic devil's forks.

"Trick or treat!" they cry, meaning, "Give us Smarties or else!"

There is a moment's pause. Then the door opens wide, very quickly, and there stand the grown-ups, wearing truly terrifying masks and wielding shotguns.

"You want a trick? You gotta a trick!" they cry, and they open fire on the unsuspecting brats, who flee back down the garden path, if any of them are lucky enough to escape unscathed ...

The Massacre of the Innocents, just one of the many new pleasures in our autumn list!

Others include new brands of avian flu specially flown in from the East, this season's fresh crop of splutters and sneezes, and a new incurable strain of Legionnaire's Disease ...

A Legionnaire Writes:

'Allo, zere, mes amis! Welcome from ze French Foreign Legion! Well, you may 'ave beaten us at rugby, but pouf! I can't see you doing so good against our new aliment, how you say? Ailment! Zat is right! Our new ailment which comes silent in the night and leaves nuzzing but death and despair behind! Watch out for Legionnaire's Disease, 2007 vintage! Bonne chance, my leetle Anglo-Saxon camerades!"

So mull that wine, and sloe that gin!

Let the autumn feast begin!

Country pancake, barley wine;

Come on in, the wassail's fine!

Toe of frog, and eye of newt,

Aren't Nigella's recipes cute ...?

We interrupt this autumn broadcast with an announcement:

Please note: Autumn is a wholly registered trade name owned by Four Seasons Incorporated of Seattle, who are a subsidiary of the US military/industrial complex. Any use of the name by unauthorised persons or unlawful profit will be punished by law or by bombardment from the air. Thank you. Keep tuned to this space for more autumn news.