My boot has a hole and Spiderman has a car

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The Independent Online
Today - 50 sure signs that autumn is upon us ...

1. Strange new programmes start to appear on TV.

2. Men on TV say, "And now we're going straight back to the party conference at Blackpool/Brighton/Bournemouth ..." after which they say nothing, because you have just switched them off.

3. You finally throw away the piece of garden furniture you've been meaning to mend all summer.

4. Someone asks you if you're going skiing this winter.

5. Newspapers print the final county cricket analyses.

6. The first football matches are cancelled because of the weather.

7. The Radio Times says: "Yes, Angus, Ian and Paul are back again!"

8. Isobars huddle closer together for warmth in the weather chart.

9. You hear someone saying: "Anyone seen my bicycle lights?"

10. Someone further down the road lights a bonfire.

11. The wind changes.

12. The smoke from the bonfire blows across the road.

13. There are multiple pile-ups in the road.

14. Local headlines say: "Police Press Charges against Bonfire Crash Horror Man."

15. The first 1997 calendars appear in the shops.

16. The last 1996 calendars and diaries ("Now 90 per cent off marked price!!") vanish from the shops.

17. Women on TV say: "And now more news from the autumn fashion shows!", after which they say nothing else, because you have just switched them off.

18. You overhear people saying: "I can't believe it's less than three months away!"

19. You find yourself wondering where all the hot water bottles in the house are.

20. The Big Issue sellers look colder than usual.

21. Pubs look more inviting than usual.

22. You start running over little objects in the lane, and think with horror they must be birds or small animals, but actually they're only conkers.

23. You get a postcard from one of your summertime house martin visitors, saying: "Well, we made it to Egypt all right, and it's lovely and warm here, and you must drop in if you're ever passing this way..."

24. You overhear people trying to imitate a Scottish accent, saying: "Aye, the evenings are fair drawing in!"

25. Women's magazines suddenly seem bereft of ideas because although in summer you can have features saying: "Shed Those Pounds in Time For the Holidays!" or "What they'll be Wearing on the Beach This Summer!", it's not possible to have features headed "Put that Flab Back On In Time For Autumn!" or "What they'll be Wearing for Bonfire Night this year!"

26. You realise you have a boot with a hole in the sole.

27. You make a mental note to get the lawn mower serviced in good time this year.

28. You overhear people saying: "You wouldn't think they could still have a hosepipe ban in weather like this!"

29. You make a mental note to find space to put away the barbecue/deck chairs/ hammock.

30. You bring washing in from the line after a sunny day, and it's still damp.

31. You start walking into cobwebs a lot.

32. You see mysterious unmarked lorries going through the streets late at night, which are carrying wrapping paper, artificial snow and Christmas cards to secret destinations.

33. The 1997 Beano Annual starts selling out.

34. Haircutters start saying: "Going anywhere this winter, then?"

35. You start overhearing people saying things like: "But we had her over on Boxing Day last year! It's their turn to have her!"

36. Your children start saying that they want the new Spiderman Car for Christmas.

37. You didn't know there was a new Spiderman car.

38. You don't know how your children know.

39. You discover that there are whole new TV commercials going out at times when you thought it was safe for children to watch TV.

40. Advertising things like Spiderman cars ...

41. The local headlines say: "Police Drop Charges Against Bonfire Crash Horror Man."

42. Haircutter says: "No, I'm not going anywhere, either."

43. You hear someone say: "I'm not sure Angus and Ian and Paul are as funny this year."

44. Someone on radio says, "Well, Parliament has reassembled, so that is the last of our morning recess programmes at 8.40am ..."

45. Newspapers try to sum up the impact of party conferences.

46. You see the new Spiderman car actually for sale.

47. You find your bicycle lights, but they're not working.

48. You find your hot-water bottles, but they're leaking.

49. You finally put your deckchairs away, but they're sagging.

50. You hear someone saying: "All right, all right, we'll have her on Boxing Day again, BUT THIS IS THE LAST TIME!"