Rustic ruminations @ the start of spring

The only thing you can't do with a paperclip is turn it back into a paperclip afterwards
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The Independent Online

We all know that spring is nearly here, but does anyone know when it really starts? Well, yes, my readers do, because I have had many letters stating definitively when the first day of spring is. The fact that they each name a different day only goes to show what a knowledgeable bunch they are. Here is a small selection of their learned offerings.

We all know that spring is nearly here, but does anyone know when it really starts? Well, yes, my readers do, because I have had many letters stating definitively when the first day of spring is. The fact that they each name a different day only goes to show what a knowledgeable bunch they are. Here is a small selection of their learned offerings.

From Sir Bernard Quantock

Sir, May I give the straight scientist's answer to this one? Spring starts on the vernal equinox, 21 March, when day and night are equal. That is what "equinox" means: "equal night". End of argument.

From Professor Roger Wickambreaux

Sir, May I give the gay scientist's answer to this one? Honestly, I am sick and tired of being told that seasons start on the equinox. If 21 December is the longest night of the year, then that should be the middle of winter, not the start of it! The idea of winter starting only four days before Christmas is absolute madness, as anyone who has ever tried to go Christmas shopping in early December will know. I mean, if you are standing in Sloane Street on 13 December, freezing to death, trying to hail a taxi, and someone says to you: "Quite a cold autumn day, isn't it?", it makes you want to spit. Forget the equinox, I say! Ditto with spring, which, en passant, is a truly over-rated season with those ghastly primrose shades and awful vulgar lambs all over the place...

PS. Have you quite finished the correspondence about what to call the @ symbol?I hope not, because I just wanted to say that in parts of Polynesia it is called the "crab". I think they've got a point. Isn't that cute?

From Mrs Sheila Kittick

Sir, In my family we always think that spring has arrived when the first pundit comes on the air to predict the results of the Oscars.

PS. My grandfather used to call the @ symbol the "paperclip". When we challenged him that it looked nothing at all like a paperclip, he took one and twisted it into that shape. Mark you, it took him over two hours to do it, but as he always used to say: "A paperclip can be turned into anything, if you work at it hard enough. The only thing you can't do with a paperclip is turn it back into a paper clip afterwards."

From Mr Walter Kingsley

Sir, In my family we always think that spring has arrived when the last of our friends arrives back from a skiing holiday.

PS. With a broken leg.

PPS. Which is also the name we give to the @ sign.

From the Rev Percy Fitzpatrick

Sir, In this part of Buckinghamshire there is an old rhyme about the arrival of spring, which as far as I can ascertain goes like this:

Frozen mittens, ice-cold knickers.

Rugby final up at Twickers.

Ice cream cones on sale at Wycombe,

You can buy 'em, you can't lick 'em.

Thresher's shop at Princes Risborough

Got a nice line in Chilean reds and whites.

Why not have a look in tomorrow?

We can do you three for only £12.

But the more I look at this rhyme, the more I think it is probably very corrupt, and indeed that Thresher's may have "got at it" in a major way. Sorry to have wasted your time.

PS. Surely the @ symbol is one of those Italian pasta shapes?

From Mr Nigel Lagroll

Sir, Surely the sure sign that spring has arrived is when the husband says: "Oh God, the lawn needs cutting again - I must go and collect the lawn mower from the garden repair centre!" and the wife says: "Actually, you forgot to take it there in the first place, at the start of autumn..." But surely that begs the question of when autumn really begins...

PS. If the @ symbol is an Italian pasta shape, how come the Italians actually call the @ sign the "snail", eh, smarty clogs?

From General Sir Hamish Bell

Sir, A Scotsman always knows when spring is coming. When the English papers say: "Spring has arrived!" and prints pictures of lambs and bluebells, then we in Scotland look out at the snowy wastes and know that spring is only five weeks away.

PS. The @ is known in Scotland as a "ptarmigan turd", or "pturd" for short.

This correspondence is now closed until the start of summer.

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