“All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm)If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)”
Who doesn’t feel a little like that in the depths of the British winter? I say British winter but we’re still technically ‘enjoying’ autumn and the prospect of three and a bit months more of this gloom lies grimly ahead.
It was in 1963 – not sure it was late December, oh what a night that was – when John Phillips wrote those words, which quickly morphed into California Dreamin’, finally to be released in 1965 by the Mamas and the Papas. Phillips was in New York with his wife Michelle at the time during a particularly cold winter and she was desperately missing her home state of California where it’s generally warm all year round. I’ve always lived in the changeable weather of Bristol so have never experienced the yearning to return to a warmer home, but who doesn’t relate to those words?
From my vantage point, not all the leaves are brown – some poor trees have lost all their leaves, poor buggers – but the sky is definitely grey (not gray. Bloody Yanks). I haven’t been for a walk yet on this feels-like-winter’s day, but I’d definitely be warm and hopefully safe if I was in, say, the Canary Islands rather than Laurel Canyon. It doesn’t require much of an imagination to feel a little like Michelle Phillips did some 60 years ago.
It could be a touch of SAD because somewhat self-pityingly I’ve often wondered whether to add that condition to my ever-growing collection, but if I have, maybe nearly all of us have it, or something like it. After all, few of us choose to go on holiday to places that are colder and darker, apart from those who, inexplicably in my view, go skiing. Yes, I know the sun shines when you’re on the piste, but I’d far rather be on a different kind of P somewhere warm and sunny, a kind of Canary/Corfu/Croatia dreaming.
It’s not a good idea to spend too much wishing one’s life away because unless you expect to survive your own death and end up in heaven or hell, this is the only one you’re going to get. But I can’t help it. The British weather is grimly appropriate for the shit show in which we are living, where millions of people are in poverty, nearly eight million people are on NHS waiting lists, the economy isn’t working for anyone except the very well-off and the nicotine-stained man frog who put us all in the handcart to hell is getting £1.5 million to appear on I’m A Celebrity.
California dreaming? Kind of. Dreaming of a brighter warmer day? For sure. I’m not sure things could get any darker, but somehow formerly great Britain usually manages to make it that way.