Autumn is the best of seasons. Of the four, it is the most reliable, solid and comforting. Despite cooling of temperatures, autumn's colours are warm golden browns and deep, withering red. As I write this, I keep turning my head to glance out at the fading beauty of the rowan tree on the corner of the street, its colours resplendent as it slowly dies. Only it doesn't die, it just sleeps for six months in arboreal hibernation.
Wouldn't it be grand if humans hibernated? Not only would it provide a convenient way to avoid winter, it would be nirvana for introverts recovering from the hyperactivity of outdoor summer with too many folk, and the beckoning of the noisy indoor life of winter dominated by the festive season and, well, too many folk.
Apparently early humans spent 20 to 23.5 hours in their caves or dens. Sounds sensible, but with the added pleasure of annual cleaning of the cave – spring cleaning is wasted on spring – autumn is positively joyful. In your fleecy garb, it's also coorying-up telly season, or to be more precise, box-set season. And by the way, if you haven't watched it yet, you must see Netflix's Unbelievable
. It is quite simply brilliant. A disturbing true story, it's a cautionary tale of a teenager who was raped at knifepoint but then charged with lying. Years later, two female detectives uncover the chilling truth. The acting is superb.
Autumnal cooking is the best recipe for comfort. Gone with the green leafy salads to be replaced with roasts, soups and stews. Now a lazy cook, I'm on the look-out for one-pot recipes. If that's your thing too, From the Oven to the Table
by Diana Henry is a masterclass in the one-pot genre. Finally, the smells of autumn. Out of the dark cupboard comes the fire logs and whisky, both smokin' beautifully. Happy autumn to you all. Sláinte!
They're coming for the vapers
Talking of smoking, I haven't had a cigarette since 14 August, thanks to the marvellous invention of the vape, a terrific gizmo for nicotine addicts. What's more, whilst the cigarette smokers stand huddled outside various venues, some places, to my surprise, allow the vape to be puffed inside. And if not, I have a devious solution: you can blow the vapour into a large tote bag and no-one is any the wiser.
But the health police are on to us. Not content with telling us for years not to eat red meat as it gives you cancer, now they tell us they got it wrong. Not to be undone, last week we were told that any more than two glasses of wine a week will give you dementia and that vaping is dangerous. US vaping illness deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, have risen to 19. Yes, 19 – in a country of 327 million. Gosh, if the fatalities from vaping treble, that's nearly as many as are struck dead by lightning on an annual basis. Now that should strike the fear of God into our tar-filled lungs. On closer inspection, the culprit is cannabis oil. A grand idea, frankly. So far there are no reports of cannabis-vaping injuries in the UK.
There is a case for concern over the numbers of young people vaping who would not otherwise smoke. Data for numbers of young people who have taken up vaping smoke is not yet available, but, for crying out loud, the vape must be saving thousands of adult lives. Not usually conspiratorial, I think there's a visceral hatred of nicotine addicts by health professionals and addiction-free health freaks. They hate that we're dependent, that we're allowed 'smokers' breaks' at work, that we stand outside talking loudly, laughing and coughing (my favourite activity at conferences) and the rest. Now they're coming for the vapers. Give us a break.
Nick's wondrous cave
The first exhibition in Europe of the Chicago-based artist Nick Cave is presented in the Tramway. Two young musicians came with me and, before we entered, I asked them not to read the artist's blurb, but to work out for themselves what they thought it was about. Spotting that the show was entitled UNTIL
gave neither the youngsters nor me a clue as to the artist's intent.
Days before our visit, I had been a bit rude on Twitter quipping that it looked like a John Lewis Christmas advert gone haywire. Not entirely wrong as it turned out, the installation did resemble a magnificent festive scene in a large department store. Hundreds of dangling, spinning mobiles create an Aladdin's cave of the best tree decorations. First impressions were of love and peace until, on closer inspection, some of the bobbles contained spiralling shotguns. What to make of that, we wondered.
At the centre is what I can only describe as a festoon of crystal chandeliers, which reminded me of Trump's ballroom in Turnberry. Atop the light display was a cluttered collection of gardening ornaments to which you ascended on a yellow, metal ladder. What's that about, I asked them? No idea, but it's fun, was the answer. Draped on all four walls were massive beaded curtains with 'power' and the peace sign woven into the design.
Once back home, I read them Cave's interpretation of what we'd seen. On this occasion, I wish I'd read it beforehand. It's true, the sheer volume of material is astounding: 16,000 wind spinners; millions of pony beads; thousands of ceramic objects; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; one crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys. Tramway's main hall 'is filled with a field of kinetic ornaments leading to a large-scale crystal cloud topped by a sculptural garden inspired by the artist's question "is there racism in heaven" before ending with a series of beaded murals hand-woven with thousands of colourful beads, and embedded messages within'. The labour of many anonymous workers is truly impressive. Well worth a second visit, I'd say.