“When Melancholy Autumn comes to Wembley…”

We get a lot of spiders.

These were everywhere throughout September and October. Its hazardous to be a flying insect.

The wild flower meadows in the Park stay in bloom long into November. Its a lovely splash of colour but a bit unnerving to be out this late. This photo was from August, hence the stronger light, but there’s a comparable number of flowers still out.

They start drilling for oil at Sainsburys. Actually they are pile driving for the blocks of flats they are building on the old car park. Presumably they will make a fortune selling or renting the flats, and have an almost captive customer base that just has to pop downstairs to get to the shop. One commercial version of a 15 minute neighbourhood.

Diwali at VBs cash and carry – where you can buy spices by the hundredweight and jute sacks of Jagari – and the fireworks are mostly sold out; the check out workers are all wearing Saris, lipstick and dripping with jewellery. The elderly people queueing outside Pooja and Gayatri sweetmarts are contrastingly dull in anonymous anoraks in different shades of mud.

The local library puts on a display for COP26. This is a rather pretty selection from the children’s section. What we really need is something large, serious and adult and maybe some talks. Perhaps next year – as these discussions will get more and more urgent and the need for popular awareness and commitment more and more apparent. In a “red alert for humanity” it seems to me that we should be hearing the sound of klaxons permanently as we walk down the street to wake us all up.

When melancholy Autumn comes to Wembley
And electric trains are lighted after tea
The poplars near the stadium are trembly
With their tap and tap and whispering to me,
Like the sound of little breakers

Spreading out along the surf-line
When the estuary’s filling
With the sea.

From Harrow on the Hill by John Betjeman.


Outside Hendon Magistrates Court the ornamental Fuschia hedge has grown through the railings in a riot of drooping magenta flowers. Getting ready for an Autumnal return to normal, a young worker with a hedge trimmer is squaring it off as a metaphor for a legal system with a limited imagination. He is wearing ear protectors. Less than a metre away from him, the old lady, young couple and small child lined up by the bus stop, are not. Confused bees waver around the cauterised bristling twigs where the flowers used to be. The young worker sweeps them up from the floor. Tidiness before life.

Beside Chili Masala, the small patch of waste ground has some fitful grass bravely trying to compete with a jumble of liberally discarded plastic bottles and beer cans, like a miniature replica of that field at the Reading Festival left full of single use tents. A sole cabbage White butterfly flutters gamely around it showing what life could be about instead.

Outside our flat, bees are weaving in and out of the flowers in the hedge. One blunders into one of the many webs strung across it with a huge tiger striped spider hanging motionless in the middle. Immediately the spider, twice the size of the bee, is on it and wrapping it up in a silk coffin with busy legs moving quickly up and down like a sewing machine. The bee is quickly reduced to future packed lunch in a silk sarcophagus in about ten seconds, and the spider lowers it down out of sight for later, before climbing back up to wait.

Looking down from the top deck of the 83 from the bridge over the wide stretch of tube lines by Wembley Park. A pair of Jubilee line trains snaking slowly round the curve towards the station, framing a line that dives steeply down to an opaque rectangular maw of a tunnel that looks like a portal to somewhere grim.

At the bottom of the hill, the first crane fly of the season. It half flies, is half blown hither and thither, long spindly legs wavering around and small wings whirring frantically. It seems far more alone than it should do.

Intimations of Mortality

We seem to have a new sort of spider web this year. A sort of formless gauzy mist that drifts across corners and appears overnight. No tightly defined geometric structures. As though the spiders know that God is dead and isn’t checking on the quality of their work.

After the brains, two slugs the size of battlecrusiers ooze inexorably from one hedgerow on the path outside our flat to the happier hunting grounds under the other.

We have a strange intrusive ticking, that sounds both mechanical and urgent, coming from inaccessible places in our water pipes at times. It feels like a countdown.

The intense playful and urgent quality of the playing in this year’s Proms exudes a sense that live music cannot be taken for granted forever; that each performance is precious and has to be fully savoured. Live music in more ways than one.

The government has decided to “live with” the virus. Which means that they are content that people should continue to die from it. Forever and ever. Amen.