It’s okay, you’re safe. Step away from the factor 50, chuck those sandals to the back of the wardrobe and sling the fake tan in the drawer.
And breathe. You are through it. You have reached the other side. For this year, it is over. That uncomfortable, un-British hiatus in the year, that time of flesh and festivals and forays into foreign territories, is all done.
Summer has had its day, for tomorrow is Sep 1, and the Met Office says that is autumn.
The smell of barbecued sausage is gradually fading from our streets, the memory of that unexpected tattoo, revealed to you by your neighbour’s shorts, will soon fade too.
We have gamely done our best with it: we have walked the streets in outfits bought when the world was young, we have drunk too long into the too-light nights, we have sat on all manner of outdoor surfaces with great pluck and no regard for our personal safety, but now our northern exposure has come to an end.
We are hitting September. Can you smell it? Draw in a big lungful of that lovely autumnal air and sniff deep – there it is, the scent of new satchels on a light, playful breeze.
It’s useless to deny it, it’s in our genes. No matter how old you are, come September a little, tiny bit of you will always crave a new satchel. And a new pencil case to go in it.
Oh the blessed relief of it all though. Some of us haven’t slept since May, spending our nights alternating between a Tog 4 and a Tog 15; sweating, shivering, turning over our pillow to the cold side. Just as we get to grips with the perfect ratio of duvet-covered flesh to bare, hanging-out-of-bed flesh, our torture is over.
And we are glad. For now we know what lies ahead of us. We can all stop pretending to be spontaneous,
From here on in it is a smooth run through cardis and casseroles to heating rows and the hell on earth that is that end of year event. We all know the drill, it is as comforting as a mug of hot chocolate and a woolly blanket.
And we are comfortable with it. We are back in the land of the familiar. If summer was a fruit salad then autumn would be a bowl of porridge, and we suit porridge – that greyness, that softness, it becomes us in our breakfast bowls and it becomes us in our skies. Anyone who says otherwise is just kidding themselves.
The harsh light of summer is for others. They look chic under its brilliance but we just look... well, let’s go with shabby.
So good riddance to all of that and welcome to the essentials of autumn: the inside, the telly, the fire, the big Sunday night historical drama.
We women scamper back into our tights like grateful crabs being reunited with our shells, and our men disappear into a world of football with a similar sense of clothing themselves in the comfortingly familiar.
Once September turns, we are back with a sense of purpose.
Those lost, dark days of January are not the beginning of the year at all – everything really kicks off now.
This is the month for new starts, new jobs, new homes. Tired of the stagnation of summer, we leap into action.
And, most thrilling of all for some of us, it is the season of new coats, gloves, scarves and hats. Autumn clothes leave those awkward summer outfits for dead. No wonder it is the mellow season.
And though we might have left our education behind years ago, the freshness of autumn mornings and the coolness of autumn evenings will always make us step up a mental gear. We are all beginning a new term.
In the old days, when such things existed, we would signal our self-improvement by signing up for an evening class, now we watch a new box set instead. The intent is the same.
It is time to focus, to stop drifting, to welcome our friends and our family back from those strange summer wanderings. It is time for all to be safely gathered in under a golden haze of autumn. I like that.
Sitcoms are just no joke
Some things just can’t be resurrected: bustling high streets, thriving post offices, BHS.
Their time has gone. They are not fit for purpose anymore, which is why they began to fail in the first place.
And that is never more true than in the case of Are You Being Served? and Porridge, back on television at the weekend after being remade as one-off specials with updated script and new actors, and clearly with an eye to a series should they get the viewers’ thumbs-up.
I’m keeping everything crossed that that doesn’t happen, because though both were massively popular sitcoms in their day neither should have been resurrected. British sitcoms are one of the many things held in a place of nostalgic affection in the nation’s heart, always to be referred to with an affectionate chuckle.
But I can’t understand it. In the 1970s and 1980s those of us who were actually there and watching know that in fact the British sitcom was a painfully awful invention.
It isn’t just that shows like these two and all the others – On the Buses, George and Mildred, Love Thy Neighbour, Till Death Us Do Part – played to every racist, sexist, narrow, ignorant stereotype of the day.
They just weren’t funny.
Bringing them back would be just baffling – we Brits have got better in so many ways since then, and we deserve better laughs.
Putting your public face on
Once it only happened in private, but now now putting on your slap has gone public.
Those of us brought up to apply our foundation, cover our spots and conceal our eye bags before a bedroom mirror, are now way out-of-date.
The modern make-up wearer applies the lot in front of fellow travellers on the commute to work.
Bizarrely, almost half of other passengers disapprove of this, according to a survey.
I am not amongst them – as long as someone else is doing the driving, why should it be a problem?
In fact, I don’t just not disapprove, I love watching other women apply their make-up.
It’s such a fascinating process, revealing the products they use, the bits of their face they spend a lot of time on, the features they choose to enhance.
Watching it all going on is strangely relaxing – as long as they don’t notice.