Jayne Dawson: Okay it’s March but let’s not spring into rash decisions

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I’m wondering if we need a referendum. Sort it out one way or the other. I might mention it to David Cameron because he has a liking for a referendum - but only ever in his next term of office. Have you noticed?

His strategy reminds me of a Strictly contestant pleading for another week: “Keep me in this time, and next time I’m really going to blow your socks off.” That sort of thing.

Anyway, I’m not talking Europe, Scotland, Russia’s continuing membership of the G8 club, or anything of that sort.

It’s more important. I’m talking spring, beginning of. When does it start? Has it started? Who decides? How do they decide?

You can see it’s a question with many layers of complexity.

Here’s another complication: is the mild weather we have experienced actually the start of something good, or is it a false spring? An evil wind might yet blow, withering our sweet snowdrops and tentative first daffodils where they stand.

Here’s another complication. There is a time lag between me writing this and you reading it. The false spring could now be over - but let’s not go there.

It used to be easy, if a little contrary. Spring began on March 21, the beginning of the spring equinox.

An equinox is when the day and the night are of equal length, and there is another one in autumn. A solstice, on the other hand, marks the longest and shortest days of the year - one in summer and one in winter.

So we knew where we were - sort of. Granted, no-one could ever quite remember the actual dates, but that only led to reassuring annual conversations along the lines of:

First person: “It’s the first day of spring today”

Second person: “Is it, I thought it was tomorrow?”

Third person: “No, it was yesterday. I’m sure it was yesterday.”

And everybody went away happy.

Then the Met Office decided to go all touchy-feely on us, all populist and understanding.

If the Met Office was a man it would have stopped wearing a tie.

The beginning of spring was March 1, it said, because, basically, that was when it felt right for it to be spring, it said.

Just like that, all traditional British uncertainty, all the quaintness of sticking to obscure rules, all the eccentricity of it was removed.

Some people like that. I don’t.

I grant you, there are things happening in the outdoor world now that March is here. The light is the most amazing aspect. As the soft grey light of winter becomes whiter and brighter everything looks different - but mainly, I find, your domestic paintwork and your clothes.

Look at those grubby fingermarks round every door handle! Look at the scuffs on the walls! And the dust! And the windows! Draw a veil over it by drawing the curtains as soon as you can, it’s the only practical solution.

And all those black garments you have been wearing in the short days and long nights, about now you will realise they are not black at all, but covered with a fine film of grey dust and hair and bits of your lunch.

Meanwhile, clothes shops are full of eye-popping colour, the rails look as if they are hung with giant Opal Fruits, all citrus and refreshing. Those acid greens, daffodils yellows, juicy oranges look scrumptious.

I like this. I may be wearing several shades of what I thought was black, until a recent blast of sunlight told me otherwise, but I like pop of spring colour enormously.

So there are many signs that life is beginning anew out there but as to whether it is actually spring, well that’s a big, big question.

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