There was a poem which was much favoured in school anthologies when I was a child, which had a great long list of negatives, possibly it was by Thomas Hood: ‘No sun–no moon! No morn–no noon! No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day– No sky–no earthly view– No distance looking blue– ‘ and ending with ‘November!’
I’ve always quite liked the month of November; there was Bonfire Night, there was Rag-Day where the students from Cambridge University would dress up and have floats parading through the city and play pranks, then there was Poppy Day, then my mum Monica’s birthday, and my Uncle Alan’s… so I always quite liked November. It was a month when the first frosts would come, and leave the morning streets all sparkly, the evenings crisp with the mist of breath hanging in the air and the smokey smell of coal fires, the hips and haws like brilliant jewels, the hedges dusted with crystals and the leaves of trees and bushes turning the thousand shades of autumn colour.
No sun–no moon!
No morn–no noon!
No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
No sky–no earthly view–
No distance looking blue–
No road–no street–
No “t’other side the way”–
No end to any Row–
No indications where the Crescents go–
No top to any steeple–
No recognitions of familiar people–
No courtesies for showing ’em–
No knowing ’em!
No mail–no post–
No news from any foreign coast–
No park–no ring–no afternoon gentility–
No company–no nobility–
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,