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the first word.


PLEASE don't hate me, call me odd, shout or tell me to stick that woollen muffler where the sun don't shine. But I love, love, love winter. Maybe it's something to do with being born bang smack in the middle of it. Who knows.

September is the gateway to autumn and the month that helps me start to feel human again. It is the season, in my misplaced logic, to be really jolly despite there not being a Fa la la la la in sight.

From there, for me at least, it's uphill all the way as the months drip slowly into January, the most bitter of them all, but the sweetest in my mind.

I've never quite understood this nation's fascination with the sun or with that peculiar season, summer.

People don't know how to dress in Britain for the heat for a start, thinking that summer chic means dressing in less clothing. But with socks. Socks!

Take my father for example. He's used to the heat having spent 25 years in the Navy travelling from one oasis to the other, working usually outdoors.

He has skin like leather, and doesn't use sun cream, or reach for a strawberry Mivvy whenever that great big globe in the sky sneaks out, neither does he break into a sweat when the rest of us are dying from unnatural exposure.

But he still feels it necessary to wear a vest in 32 deg C and white terry towelling socks with open toed sandals.

Women don't fare much better either with bra-less off-the-shoulder boulder-holders de rigueur, Daisy Duke shorts showing up milky white legs covered with cellulite and carrying those stupid little sports bags that are only big enough to hold your keys and lip liner.

I'm not sure what it is about the British that makes them all such summer lovers and winter haters.

Maybe it's something to do with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people between September and April.

Apparently it's caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter. In other words, if there's no sun there's no fun.

I then, must have a twisted sense of SADness (sic) because I get a dose of fatigue, depression, lethargy and anxiety in the full glare of summer madness. I don't really understand people's January blues and autumnal antipathy, but everyone I know seems to have it.

People just don't understand my love of autumn, my delight in winter and why I get passionate about weather which is damp, blustery and full of passion. And do not get me started on the cold. I adore it when it starts to make its icy fuss around me. Honest!

I'm like a kid again, discovering new worlds because you just don't know what any day is going to bring (aside from sub zero temperatures and salt on your tyres). But if you're desperate to beat the January blues but don't know where to start, Abbie Wightwick has some great ideas to get you through the month on page 17.

Winter babies look away now...


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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 10, 2009
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