Tuesday, November 16, 2004


November, I hate you.

Last year – under your endless slates of cloud cover, the wind punching about your short frozen days, the rain pummelling your grey streets, and three months to come of the same – I said that I hated you then, too. And I did. I do.

For instance, for instance... The year before last, my girlfriend was a New York business woman. She was here on a study year out, staring into my eyes at night, lunching with contacts-cum-friends on afternoons, ticking off one more box from a list of museums and galleries each weekend, and lounging around pricey coffee shops, in classy London knee-length socks, while reading anything-but-politics. And she did not understand, November, that fight at a party over nothing, in front of all her friends, or when I turned up stoned to meet her parents, or dumped her just for not being right for me (twice, and each time right out of the blue), or forced her to try a restaurant that I must have thought she would hate, her being a Jew. November, it's true: it can’t be her fault. So I’ll blame you.

But that was nothing, really, November.

Remember, remember.

A phone call to an office bureaucrat about the tax I pay: it ends in swearing, shouting, slamming. And stares from all over the open-plan.

A drunk student, his arms spanning entire width of the door of the train as it pulls into Putney: he gets pushed out and pinned against a wall, told never to get in my way again.

A towel on the back of the door shoots upwards as I fall downwards: two hours later I come round on the floor of the bathroom, someone from the party has been banging on the door, wondering whether they should get a screwdriver and take off the hinges. I was trying to fucking sleep, I tell him, dizzy and slurring.

Shop-lifting, even! And the personal emails left unanswered, culling a few distant friends – all for what? Only for you, November, and I hate you.

Seven November’s ago, I did not know what I know now: that I hate you. O, my second year at university. The nights lit by disco lights, the days dozing in a warm daze. A dingy bedroom, a cheap wine or whiskey hardly touched, and the flame-red shirt of she from the lecture slips from her shoulder like a shadow. Then, a free weekend and the student loan just in? To London! To Amsterdam! To Paris!

But the year after was different. The November when I first hated November. I was only 21: I didn’t think to quit University to be with my father; I didn’t know that getting a mobile – so I could rush home in an emergency – was a token safeguard that guaranteed only bad news, and that however short a future is, more should be asked of it than that; I didn’t even know, deep down, really deep down, that when the Doctors told me that “he has a couple of weeks, a month at the most”, they actually meant it, nor that they were right.

November, kicking about in your leaves, why have I never looked for consolation? In their symbolism say, or a joke. Their yellows, their reds, their rustle underfoot: such a beautiful, massive death that only happens in November, that only happens to leaves, dropping like hair from a cancer victim.