Miles Kington: To everything there is a season. But which one?

If you thought you were in winter when it was really summer, you'd be in trouble, wouldn't you?
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The Independent Online

He thinks he may be up there with Down, Tourette, and all the other people immortalised after labelling their own syndrome. Sepler's Syndrome could be just around the corner.

Dr Sepler is a very happy man.

"Happy? You can say that again," he beams. "And yet the funny thing is that it was through a study of unhappiness that I first came across my syndrome. You know the thing called SAD ?"

Doesn't that stand for Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes?

"No, no, no," says Dr Sepler impatiently. "That's Sads! That's something quite different! I'm talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder, the depression that afflicts people in midwinter. It's caused by very short periods of daylight and very long nights, and people have discovered that you can actually alleviate the condition by exposing them to more light from the right kind of light box.

"Anyway, I was doing some research on whether people in the southern hemisphere also get December Depression. Though they have to call it August Angst. You know, of course, that people Down Under have their winter at the same time as our summer?"

Of course.

"Well, for several years on the trot I went Down Under during our summer to study their winter, which meant among other things that I was always away for our summer and was always in winter, which I have to say is VERY depressing indeed, unless you like skiing, which I don't."

Dr Sepler pauses, leans over his light-box for a moment. and takes a deep blast of light, the way other people knock back a drink.

"That's better ... Well, it got me to thinking about the differential between seasons. It's really quite important to know what season you are in, because our state of mind is quite different in winter from what it is in summer. If you thought you were in winter when it was really summer, you'd be in trouble, wouldn't you?"

Yes, but is that likely ?

"It's more and more likely these days, as the seasons get extended by human intervention. Right now Australia and England are halfway through a cricket Test series. It'll be going on till mid-September. Cricket is a summer game. But the football season has already started. Football is a winter game. What sort of signals does that send out?"

Confusing ones?

"Very confusing ones indeed. We are being asked to be in summer AND winter simultaneously. But this sort of thing goes on the whole time. There are 2006 calendars on sale already. People are booking winter holidays now. The first Christmas decorations appear earlier every year. The borders between the seasons are blurring the whole time ..."

Yes, but...

"If you're a fashion designer, you are forced to plan your summer collection during the darkest days of winter. If you're doing any kind of planning ahead at all, like a publisher planning next summer's best-seller, you're almost certainly sitting in one season while thinking about another.

"In other words, you'll be suffering from Scud."


"Seasonal Confusion Uncertainty Disorder. That's what I'm calling it. You've got to get in there quickly with a name, ideally with an acronym you can pronounce. I've already registered it, luckily."

But weren't you going to call it after yourself? Sepler's Syndrome?

"Oh, my God ..."

It slowly dawns on Dr Sepler that he has made a monumental cock-up. He sits there, rocking with dismay and disbelief. He has thrown away his chance of immortality. Let us tiptoe away and leave him to his misery, hunched over his light-box.

(Do you think you might be suffering from Scud? Get in touch with Dr Trainer Sepler. Don't bother us.)