Twenty things you didn't know about spring

'You get nasty letters from the tax people, which you put behind the vase on the mantelpiece'
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There have been lots of letters in the newspapers recently asking when spring actually starts.

There have been lots of letters in the newspapers recently asking when spring actually starts.

All the usual questions:

What are the first signs of spring?

Does it really have anything to do with the equinox?

If New Labour hasn't yet taken credit for it, can it really have arrived?

When spring comes, will I be able to cash in my options on it and take a windfall profit?

Well, you need pay no attention to all that baloney.

Here, exclusively for you, is the definitive answer...

You know that spring has really started to arrive when:

You start to get letters in all the papers asking when spring really starts.

You say "Look! Isn't that the first bluebell?", although actually it's just a bit of blue paper in the undergrowth. Still, at least you thought that it might be a bluebell.

You think to yourself: "By Jiminy, I've done it again! I've forgotten to take the lawnmower in for servicing again! And the grass looks as if it is about to start growing! And if I take the lawnmower in for servicing now, the garden machinery people will sneer at me insufferably, and if I don't, the mower will never work again! Oh, Jiminy..."

You get letters in the paper saying: "Well, if spring arrives with the first butterfly, how come that I saw a yellow brimstone on Christmas Day last year out on the Brecon Beacons, eh? Answer me that!"

You get nasty letters from the tax people, which you put behind the vase on the mantelpiece.

You switch on the radio and hear an English cricketer in some far off warm place say: "Well, it's been a long hard Test series, but I think we have acquitted ourselves much better than people expected us to..."

You say "Listen! Isn't that the first cuckoo?", and actually it's just someone's mobile, but at least you thought it might be a cuckoo.

You think to yourself "What a bloody racket", when what you are referring to is actually the noise of birds having informal talks on the issues of breeding and nesting.

You hear the weather forecast declare one day: "Well, just when we were expecting spring, it's back to winter and two feet of snow in Scotland!"

You are out walking and suddenly have a horrible feeling that you have really bad breath and are then very relieved to realise that it's actually because you are treading on the new season's wild garlic shoots...

You have a strange urge to clip out newspaper coupons entitling you to get a spring weekend stay at a bargain price in a hotel that, at any other time of the year, you would not touch with a credit card.

You see friends going skiing and you think to yourself: "Hold on – isn't it a bit late for winter sports?"

You get a warm feeling by buying something in the sales that will come in handy as a present to give next Christmas, even though you know in your heart of hearts that this wonderfully early start will make you so smug that you won't buy another present now until late November.

You wonder vaguely when St Patrick's Day actually is.

Your partner hints that it would be a great time to start thinking about booking a summer holiday, for God's sake.

You see the first barbecue equipment being shipped into garage forecourts and the last cheap plastic sledges being shipped out.

You say "Look! Isn't that frog spawn over there?", but it isn't; actually, it's just droppings left by Canada geese floating in a bit of flood water, but at least you thought that it might be frog spawn.

You see flower shops get that dull glazed look that means that Valentine's Day and Mother's Day have gone by and there is no other bonanza to look forward to until Easter.

You see shops suddenly become swamped with small Easter eggs in huge packaging.

You see letters in the paper desperately asking what is the point of having all this Easter stuff so far in advance of Easter, and what is the real date of Easter, anyway...


If you would like to have a full list of seasonal symptoms, please send a signed, blank cheque to Signs Of Spring, c/o 'The Independent'