There was a definite chill in the air this morning, it was the first time I have noticed it this year. That autumnal smell, hard to explain but you just catch a barely perceptible whiff of it in the atmosphere. The smell of change, the beginning of a new phase. Tine to start saying our goodbyes to the balmy summer days (c'mon it's only part fiction), warm breezes and airless nights. Leaves preparing to lose their tenuous grip on the tree and fall to the floor in an effortless, featherlike glide, graceful and yet macabre in the same breath.
Autumn, like the other three seasons, can be shown as a contradiction in many ways. It can be seen as a gateway, though which we all must pass as we meander towards the year end or in terms of our being, to the last remaining part of our existence. Autumn can represent a season of rites of passage, as growing up, as passing through maturity, towards winter. Be it winter in the sense of preceding the renewal brought by spring, or winter in the sense of termination of our entire lifespan. Autumn is time for return to school, university freshers' week, the new football season, rain in Edinburgh, and to be fair it does start getting a bit cauld.
As we move away from lockdown summer and transition into lockdown autumn, I am wondering if another much anticipated tradition may make an appearance in its usual manner around this time. I, of course, refer to the new TV schedule. Late August is a very angsty time around these parts (Edinburgh), heralding the last week of the festivals. The rain has poured, the prizes are being given out, the crowds are just starting to thin out that wee bit as the student and amateur dramatic society's two-and-a-bit-week runs are coming to an end, with their Arts Council grant, which has kept their heads above water till now, finally spent.
The sense of anticipation of upcoming bereavement is tangible in the city in the knowledge that the travelling circus will be moving on, leaving little or no trace of its recent encampment. Well, at least for some of us it is. Others may rejoice in the winding up of the celebrations as they make plans to 'claim their town back'.
But back to the point, how to fill the void? For many it is the anticipation of the blockbuster new series, commission especially to usher in the autumn, as part of the new TV schedule. The eight-parter over four weeks, detailing the life and times of one of the lesser cast members of some obscure 1970's sitcom. The new utility comedy, starring (yep, sarcasm) the latest 'safe' comedy talent as he/she makes their way through the vagaries of modern life, trying to remain PC by dropping a few 'fashionable' phrases into the dialogue in a failing attempt to sound relevant. The 'one-off' historical blockbuster, throwing any integrity to the roadside by working a highly implausible love story through the already inaccurate narrative.
Maybe not though. Lockdown has given us the precious possibility that we will be spared the forgoing and that these series, though it is highly probable they were commissioned, almost exactly as I have laid out, may not have been able to move ahead into production. If that turns out to be the case, I am afraid that it is not all good news. The schedules will still need to be filled with something and already we are seeing repeats of recent series which were themselves repeats, not so long ago. Worse still are the compilations of 'highlights' of other shows with dire, comedic overdubbed dialogue.
Buy a friend a book token, it makes sense and just might save a life!
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