Some people love autumn; when the leaves gloriously fade through their repertoire of golds and browns and reds. That is certainly a compensation, briefly, when we realise that whatever passed for summer this year is shuffling off to Buffalo and our world is about to get damp, messy and dark again. 

During the summer, the M40 fades slightly as the canopy of leaves masks both its sight and sound for those of us who live close enough for that to matter, when we have our annual bash at a barbecue.

Having said that, we have not had a barbecue this summer. We kept waiting for the appropriate conditions to arrive – extended family around, balmy evenings after long hot days – to enjoy the charred offerings that I seem to inevitably produce, washed down with grass cuttings and Pimms.

But it was written in the runes, it seems, that those conditions never actually combined propitiously. I think I sat in the dilapidated garden swing seat once, gingerly – when I first uncovered it, in order to ensure it hadn’t completely rotted away or rusted into an actionable condition. If it could support my frame, then it would be safe for everyone else.

The grass has been mowed within an inch of its life on several occasions but still declines to offer the possibility of ever being called a lawn. There have even been attempts to justify the area behind our house being called a garden, mainly by my daughter who buys and plants pretty things that then get obscured by weeds that my back and knees won’t tolerate any attempt I make (rare admittedly) to remove the evidence of nature’s determination to obscure homo sapiens fragile foothold.

But she lives elsewhere now and though our rural idyll compares favourably with her London flat, alas she has a life noand anyway the weeds and bounty of nature need more attention than she alone can offer sporadically. 

It’s remarkably difficult too to find gardeners. There are plenty of horticultural heavyweights around with grand designs and the necessary equipment to landscape your little bit of England, but a gardener prepared to do a fortnightly weed, sweep up and tidy is not easy to find.

And many of them are my age and older, which is either embarrassing or painful to watch. That’s why they paved paradise, I guess.