Monday, October 16, 2006

Fear of the Dark

It's October in Ambridge. Well Ok, it's October pretty much everywhere else too, but I'm in Ambridge, and it's October here. So with that established we shall move on. Here, as in the rest of Dear Old Blighty, and indeed much of the rest of the northern hemisphere, October heralds three things.

First we see the arrival of the brandy cream in the supermarkets. After all it's nearly christmas you know. Never too soon to stock up on all those festive essentials like brandy cream! (?) I believe Santa has already put in an appearance at some of the more entrepreneurial stores. Soon we shall be heralding the onset of the festive season before the kids have ended their summer holidays.... but I digress.

Second, all the same supermarkets fill with the tacky paraphernalia for haloween. Skull masks and scythes line the shelves, along with additive laden fluorescent orange pumpkin shaped "novelty" sweeties. Teachers must lie awake at night dreading the first week in November when the schools will be full of tiny whirling dervishes hyped up on sugar and e numbers after the outbreak of communal poisoning that is "trick or treat".... but I digress again.

Third, and of more relevance in GP land, the days get shorter and shorter. It seems to start happening all of a sudden. The sun drenched joy of the morning drive to work becomes a gloomy trek through stygian lanes, rain lashed, gale buffeted, and dismally dark. The trip home, instead of a drive westward into the setting sun becomes a night ride into the very jaws of hell itself. (Well, ok, Borchester, but you get the picture). The upshot of this is that a number of my regulars start to get a bit S.A.D. (that's seasonal affective disorder -- not just the ususal random Dr J typing skills).

It starts with a sort of "fin de siecle" ennui, a nameless, free floating dissaffection, but left unchecked can turn into a full blown dose of the moodies, with bleak unremitting depression as the year spirals down the plug 'ole to the shortest day. It can take two or three years to recognize that this is what's happening, but I now have a small cohort of punters who know to "book early to avoid dissappointment". They are all now trotting in to start their antidepressants in readiness, like transylvanian villagers stocking up on the garlic and the holy water before the snows of winter leave them stranded at at risk from the nameless horrors that lurk in wait in the castle on the hill.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that we fill the streets with tiny horrors at the end of the month after all. Or that we try to bribe the same horros to go away with little candy morsels.

Prozac anybody?


steveg said...

Excellent Dr. J Excellent! A great post and very entertaining, but you also forgot one of the rites of this time of yesr, one which may well be minor in your rural part of the world, but in inner city Leeds it is an annual event.

The Pre Bonfire Night firework "Displays" - such a wonderful tradition to enable you to get to know your pets more intimately, as you cannot send them out alone for a month or so.

I wonder how you could have missed this?



Anonymous said...

Naah - I'll pass on the Prozac..but perhaps a case or two of brandy cream? If there's any going, that is. If not - just a box or two of Halloween treats for a quick sugar pick me up. Ta.

ps - if I put my order in now for Festive champers, do you think you could run to that? (with a warehouse of hobnobs of course).

Z said...

Can't you get special 'light boxes' that will bathe you in the right sort of light to overcome SAD? Much better for you than antidepressants, surely.

Ooh, bonfires. Toasted marshmallows and baked potatoes. Hot soup sipped out of plastic cups that burn your fingers. Sparklers, hooray.

And it's nearly pomegranate season. Mulled wine. Crumpets. Woolly scarves and hats.

Thank you DrJ, for cheering me up so much. I don't think I'll need an appointment after all.

Shinga said...

So, if these festivals are celebrated as part of the rhythm of spiralling down, is Christmas the opportunity for a family catharsis and a survival of the fittest punch-up? Last New Year's day was notable for phone calls from 2 strangers who were trying to contact everybody (no matter how tangential) who might know where their husbands were, so that they could divorce them.

Ah, autumn. Season of Irish Mist, enforced festivities and the miseries. Shortly, it will be impossible to do any work that involves contacting others. They will be out with flu, recuperating from flu or having an early office party. Even the glories of Westonbirt can't make up for all of the associated inconveniences.

Grump, grump. If I had my unreasonable, biased, way, then flu vaccination would be compulsory, and all lighting in public places would be replaced with the full spectrum lights used to ameliorate SAD. Possibly, there would be a family coach or relationship counsellor in every coffee shop. And complimentary Chocolate Hobnobs (just to stop my husband talking about them). And child wranglers in every supermarket.

Regards - Shinga

Doctor Jest said...

Steve-- thanks for those few kind words. you forget, out here in the countryside everyone is packing heat all the time so the air reverberates to shotgun blasts at all hours and in all seasons. must be why Borsetshire miggies are all so twitchy....

Wendz-- you'll be needing Mrs Goggins for the supplies. this is the surgery, not the general store. sorry to disappoint :-(

Z-- yes indeedy, lightboxes can be a big help, but, sadly not quite enough for everyone. Heh heh-- see what I did there? heh.

Shinga-- what a wonderful place the world might be if only you were in charge. just one word of warning... Irish Mist hangovers. Ok three words of warning then... nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Anonymous said...

Oh well that put me in my place..humf!

And I don't need SADS lights coz I have the there.

*slopes away sulking*

greavsie said...

Did someone say 'Prozac'?

Doctor Jest said...

Wendz-- OK no need to rub it in! *turns gaze longingly towards the Franco-German border*

Mr Greavsie Sir-- so you got my internet pharmacy ads then?

"So that's spam spam chips spam prozac spam and spam?"

ldbug said...

Ah, yes, the lead into winter!

I'm from Montana, pretty far north, but I've lived the past 5 years in the south. I'm back towards the north, in New York, then heading home for those darkest days.

The thing is...I love them. Dark when you wake, dark when you come home.. but cozy, cold outside, steaming and warm inside. Plus, the snow we get helps which somehow makes the nights less dark. Also, seen the northern lights from time to time so...pretty cool.

My prozac? Skiing!!!

I assume you're from the UK, do you guys get snow?

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd rub some more...sun, sun...glorious sun...;)

Doctor Jest said...

ldbug-- well we do sometimes get snow here in England it's true. Once every five years or so we can get as much as an inch or two al at once. This is enough to paralyze the road and rail network for a minimum 48 hours. Of course in bit of the UK like Scotland they are better at it 'cos they get more of it, but to us southern softies snow strikes terror into our hearts. I'm guessing Montana gets lots more, and copes with it way better.

wendz-- thanks for that, I think...
We've got eldritch mists this morning. Like proper mist with added whisp.

Anonymous said...

Very appropraite for Halloween month. Next you'll be seeing apparitions in that mist.

Anyway - you'll have the last laugh in a month or two - we are buried in snow in winter.

Mr Angry said...

So you can't get sunbed sessions on the NHS then?

Doctor Jest said...

wendz-- Ha ha. in advance ;-)

angry-- only if you've got nasty skin diseases like psoriasis or the plague...