Miles Kington: Spring is in the air - and all over the ceiling

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So when does spring really begin? Is at the equinox, on 21 March? Is it on 1 March, to make things easy for the weather people? Is it when the first daffodils come out? Is it ...

No, it's none of those. You will know for certain that spring has finally started when:

Grit stops falling in the street overnight.

The pantomime at the local theatre finally comes off.

All the newspapers start printing features called "The Best of this Year's Festivals in Europe".

The sun is already high in the sky when you wake up in the morning.

As you sit in bed, willing yourself to get up, you realise that the windows look dirtier than you thought possible.

And you notice cobwebs on the ceiling you had never noticed before.

And when you look closer, you notice a spider hard at work giving the cobweb a spring clean.

Your eye lights on a volume of poetry on the bookshelf, and you are tempted to take it down and open it.

Though you don't.

The lawn is suddenly covered in unsightly, lumpy, stubbly green stuff. (It's grass growing again.)

You feel an irrational and not unpleasant urge to turf all the accumulated rubbish out of the car and give it a damned good clean.

But the feeling passes.

Friends who broke their legs skiing are up and about again.

The Oscar for best film is given to a film you have never heard of, or which has not yet opened in Britain and which you therefore take an irrational dislike to.

There is a headline: "Italy counts the cost of the Winter Olympics".

You see a bird in the garden which you have never seen before and you go to get to the binoculars and the bird book but by the time you get back it has gone, never to return.

Birds start hammering on the windows, demanding for seed to be put out for them.

You put seed out for them.

Birds hammer on the windows, pointing out that the seed you put out has all been taken by squirrels.

You put seeds and nuts in birdfood-holders

Squirrels starting hammering on the windows, demanding that you put seed and nuts in more accessible places.

You come across the diary you were given for Christmas.

(You got as far as 4 January, and then stopped, though there is a lone entry on 16 January saying: "Lunch with Mel", which is odd, as you don't know anyone called Mel.)

The papers print the first feature entitled "How to Look Great on the Beach This Summer !"

You finally get the winter cold you thought you had escaped.

England cricketers start flying back singly from foreign climes and limping off the plane with suntans and shattered knees.

You cut out an article headed: "What to do in the garden this month", having ignored the five previous ones.

You watch a Miss Marple mystery on television, and not only do you not work out which of the suspects did the murder, you do not even spot which one Miss Marple is, which turns out to be because she is being played by a different old actress this season from the old actress who played her last season.

You see the first Californian strawberries in the shops. You know they are the first strawberries from California because they are large, very red, textured like marzipan and completely tasteless. As the season goes on, they stay the same. Consistency is perhaps an over-rated quality ...

You think to yourself: "Maybe it said 'Lunch with Mal'," which makes more sense except that you don't know anyone called Mal either.

You realise that you never turned the calendar from January to February, so you can now go straight to March.

You notice that the one Valentine card you got is getting dusty.

You throw it away.

You suddenly remember that you were meant to have lunch with Mat.

And you forgot all about it.