October has arrived. It came with rain, heavy and persistent in over hanging clouds of dark, dull grey. There is a change in the air. When I was young it was considered a fearful month as it bore a heavy toll as people keeled over with bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia. It was the month when mothers would wrap up their young and bring out the scarves, woolly hats and balaclavas. Vests and liberty bodices were retrieved from the back of cupboards. Old men’s chests would rattle and wheeze and fill up with phlegm. Both inside and out there was the sound of artillery as sneezes machine gunned out of mouths, one after the other spraying the air with the bio weapons of Winter. Coughs would hack like a persistent wood cutter attacking a large knot in the trunk of an old tree.
I remember, whilst walking with my mother, sometimes passing a lovely man. He would wave, say ‘hello,’ or occasionally stop and discuss the weather. He wore a dark suit and a white open necked shirt. My mother would comment and say ‘you ought to cover-up, wear a scarf, you’ll catch your death!’ One year the poor man did just that … October can be such a grim month.