Words by: Lucy Adair (she/her)
Artwork by: Ben Woodcock (he/him)
Every year, as September draws to a close, there is a moment of realisation that summer is well and truly over. It’s reasonable in that initial recognition to feel as if half the year has disseminated into a thin mist that, now we’re in October, eerily lingers, Halloween-like in the air. The seasonal transformations manifest slowly. People begin to walk with increased pace after school, university, work; their scarves wrapped tightly around their necks, hands stuffed in their pockets and their hatted heads faced firmly downwards. This newfound indifference could be mistaken for people being unsociable, but in truth, people are seeking the heat that our homes bring in winter. On route home, the orange glow of the interior of other’s homes leaks onto the dimly lit streets outside, teasing us of our own comforts just within reach. Once you are through your front door, there is an irresistible satisfaction in immediately swapping your jeans for joggers, ready to settle in for a night of comfy television and wholesome food.
Customarily throughout this period, we no longer crave the constant social interactions of summer’s past. Instead, we avoid excursions at all costs. Single droplets of rain transform into the ideal excuse to miss a distant friend’s party, or the club night you committed to a week ago. All it takes in the morning is one glance at the speckles of water on the window before the curtains are redrawn, lectures cancelled for a personal day, and the laptop opened, ready to watch ‘When Harry Met Sally’. These indulgent hours spent inside cocooned by our duvet covers are also when we are most introspective. A new year hanging over our heads produces pressured intentions to metamorphosize into someone different; a perfected version of ourselves that must launch on the 1st January. Therefore, before another year has passed and it’s time to face resolutions of health, we revel in the remaining months of liberty. For me, this comes in the form of personal decay.
Externally during Autumn and Winter, I expect to embody the Pinterest aesthetic of rosy cheeks and rain. In reality, my naturally pale complexion now possesses an added ghostlike quality. This only highlights my purple eyebags; they stain my face with the remnants of too many beers the night before and the last-minute scramble to submit my assignment. The Scottish weather’s alliance of relentless rain and gale conjures my hair’s frizz, and my tights cover the unshaven legs of weeks gone by. My outfits are a makeshift assortment of garish knitted jumpers, oversized coats and a wonky umbrella that does more damage than good in hailing wind. However, I never feel more like myself than I do during these months. I thrive when I’m enveloped by my sofa, discussing the intricacies of whether ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas film (no debate – it is), or walking through Kelvingrove Park amongst the trees chequered with orange and yellow leaves. I unashamedly embrace this interval for the straggly mess of overdue essays, too many coffees, and booze over books. It’s a season shamelessly created for life’s guilty pleasures. But what will happen this year when the bills stack up solely into guilt – will the pleasures of this season still arrive?
Due to the current cost of living, for thousands across the country, homes won’t provide the usual sense of solace during the coldest period of the year. Soon, crisp winter mornings will be precisely that; your senses sluggishly being awoken to realise a dull chill has seeped through your body. It’s a brisk wake-up call to the fact that, for the next six months, your bed can’t shield you from the cold, that nowhere in your home can. Slumbersome sleep is no longer a choice – it’s a luxury. This is when the dependable kettle comes into play, supplying endless hot water bottles, cups of tea, and occasionally a bath when the unreliable boiler breaks-down. This, of course, all results in an added energy expense. It’s a dismal prospect to say the least, particularly as usually when we creep into October, our human hibernation phase begins.
In these upcoming icier months, new and returning students to the University of Glasgow will be facing this harsh reality. Arriving at university, you envisage inhabiting a flat filled with fairy lights and empty wine bottles holding colourful candlesticks. So it’s a shock when you quickly realise that instead, in an attempt to maintain a sense of hygiene, your space will be crammed with rickety drying racks of washed clothes. To conserve costs this year, the radiators will remain freezing. Consequently, every surface in your flat will be littered with random socks and pants that will hang limp for days – refusing to dry in the sub-zero temperature that consumes every room. The concept of a dryer is a mere pipedream. Moreover, gone is the rare pleasure of allowing yourself to turn on an electric blanket before bed, or being able to afford staple food items such as cheese – let alone the rare win of being able to buy it at half-price. The simple comforts in the life of a student may appear trivial, but during these miserable months of deadlines, small joys go a long way. With exams approaching, this is already a time of anxiety, and the rising costs of household gas, electricity and food bills will induce even more stress as people struggle to keep to an increasingly tight budget.
Normally what would make these cold months so strangely charming is the internal contrast of warmth that our homes provide versus the outdoors. They become the soul of dinner parties, drinks with friends, and family festivities. What ‘magic’ will remain in an icy winter walk without the subsequent hot shower at the end of it, or a cosy night in without being able to huddle up next to a radiator. Perhaps the past romanticism of a season filled with falling leaves and snow is now a bygone era.