Winter Warner

The clocks go back, winter draws in. Cruel things happen to my mind and body at this time of year. All of a sudden it's dark in a morning and it's dark on an evening and I want to hibernate, just curl up with some good books, some good music and some high fat foods. Yes this time of year, no matter what the state of my waistline - now there's a dependable, fixed point in this uncertain, turbulent world, as the asterisk at the bottom of all those reassuring/terrifying financial services ads says quite rightly the value of shares may go down as well as up, but my waistline? Well, that's seen a steady annual five percent growth over the last ten years. Gentlemen of the city. Put away your deriviatives and hedge funds. Bet on my belly! Now then, where was I? Ah yes, this is the time of year when my appetite has only contempt for fruit and vegetables (unless they are in the form of that glorious golden winter warmer, the chip buttie) I want beer, the thick brown sweet English stuff and I want lard!
     Anyway what about Dinosaurs. Seen it? Don't worry, wherever you are, you will. "Walking with Dinosaurs" - a miraculous melange of hi-tech computer animation and, erm, glove puppets. Is it just me who keeps hoping that at some point the camera will pan left to reveal Sooty ripping flesh from the innards of a decaying diplodocus? Worse than that, this program has caught a terrible disease of modern living - Discovery Channel English. The chief form of address in Discovery Channel English is what future grammarians will refer to as the "brannagh". This is a very vague sentence which accompanies random panoramic footage, and a loud crescendo of sickly sweet orchestrals stretching across centuries and continents. The "brannagh" has curious antecedents earliest of which is of course the "erm". The cynically minded (or perhaps just the minded) might say that the "brannagh" is merely an "erm" with a budget and an agent. But its direct forbears are those thrilling, daring high wire jumps across crevasses of ignorance that you find at the beginning of exam essays. Essays written by people who were far too full of the joys of life to actually attend any lectures or read any books. "As the waters cooled and the Alps forced their way to the sky, the allosaurus would find it harder and harder to find the sphagnum moss they so desperately needed. Deep in their burrows the ancestors of mammals that would one day play paintball and drive Ford Sierras snuggled up in their nests of straw and prepared to sleep snugly through the next ice age."
     What a bewildering week it's been, although I must confess most of that bewilderment has been in a self-applied liquid form. The Lodger has finally finished his thesis and, if he manages to avoid a fatal dogfight with his supervisor over punctuation, it should all be tied up before Christmas. So we've been celebrating. For a moment there as we were popping the bubbly, he seemed cheerful and sensed his achievement, but now of course we're back to mumbling, grumbling and dire predictions of future failure. Maybe it's just the lengthening nights and the chilly weather.