The Duke - October 14, 2015

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How do you know when one season ends and another begins?

Is it when the days of wine and roses morph into those of mist and mellow fruitfulness?

Is it when fewer men wear unflattering shorts and more women reveal less flesh (except at weekends in the pubs and clubs)?

Is it when buds burst into bloom, or multi-coloured leaves start falling from the trees?

In the Duke household the transition from spring/summer into autumn/winter is marked by The Manager moving back indoors.

Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t banished into the back garden, she heads there voluntarily.

Apparently, there’s always something to plant or prune, water or watch over and the only chance I have of finding her is to open the door and shout “cup of tea?”

If the answer is yes I know (more or less) where to find her. If there’s no answer I presume she’s popped out for lunch with one of her friends. If the answer is no... well, actually the answer never is no, so I don’t have to worry about that one.

But now that the days are shortening and the temperature is dropping, she is far more likely to be found indoors, updating her mountain of photo albums.

For anyone under the age of 25, let me explain what a photograph album is. Put simply, it’s an album (big book) into which you put photographs (colourful tactile memories of things other than your own inanely grinning face).

In today’s world of selfies, Instagrams and increasingly high-tech mobile phones we’d be lost (or found) without, this may seem an arcane and archaic concept.

A book? A printed picture? What’s the point of compiling cumbersome compendiums when you can snap and store thousands of images on something not much bigger than a couple of After Eight mints?

Well, it probably does seem a tad old-fashioned, but how many times have you read about someone’s life being “ruined” by the loss (or more accurately, theft) of their mobile complete with irreplaceable pictures of weddings, christenings, funerals or drunken party snogs with the next door neighbour?

Now, I don’t want to tempt fate here, but anyone wanting to get their hands on The Manager’s memories would need a forklift truck. She has hundreds of albums, all more or less in chronological order.

We’ve both got cameras. Mrs D’s goes on every holiday with her, mine tends to be forgotten.

Hers is regularly emptied, mine has about 500 pictures on it because I’ve never quite worked out how to use those do-it-yourself machines which long ago replaced the surly assistants who used to take your roll of film, hang onto it for about a week then present you with headless versions of your mini masterpieces.

The good (well, goodish) news for anyone having their portable memory bank stolen in the future is that the Sentencing Council (the advisory body for judges and magistrates regarding the punishment of offenders) says the “emotional harm” caused by the theft should be taken into account when sentences are handed down.

Harsher treatment is recommended if the stolen article contains “irreplaceable sentimental data”.

Quite whether that would include my mobile I’m not sure. Granted, it’s got all those phone numbers I used to keep in my “contact” book, but the only “sentimental” photos would be 30-odd pictures of bluebells taken before I realized I’d still got my finger on the button – and even now don’t know how to delete.

I just hope the dolphins like it

Have we all calmed down a bit about the 5p “it’s not a new tax” charge for advertising where you do your shopping?

If using zillions fewer plastic bags is going to save a few friendly dolphins (I don’t care about the seagulls) then okay, let’s trust that much of the 5p per bag actually is going to charity – even though it’s a bit like believing Father Christmas really can clamber down every chimney.

I’m still working my way through my carrier mountain collected since the charge was first mooted. I’d thought about investing in a Bag For Life – but what if it broke or wore out within weeks? I’d worry myself silly that it was a sign of imminent doom.

Instead I’ve started to use my stock of Tesco bags when I go to Morrisons and vice versa – because it’s one thing giving the store of your choice a free plug when they’ve provided a gratis carrier, quite another when you are charged 5p a pop for it.

And what do I put my rubbish in now? I’ve never fancied a bin brim full of fetid food, so have always recycled my carriers that way. Now I’ve had to fork out for some biodegradable slightly perfumed versions.

I just hope the dolphins are grateful.