I'm easy to spot at this time of year. I'm the one not wearing a coat.
Everyone else in the street is sporting a jacket, or blouson, or hoodie, or whatever. And there's me swanning along with nothing thicker than a shirt on top. Everyone else on the tube is dressed in black, or grey, or navy, or beige, or whatever. And there's me blazing away like a flash of colour in amongst a sea of neutrals. Everyone else arrives in the office and hangs their outerwear in the cupboard. And there's me getting funny looks at the end of the day when I wander out of the door in a single cotton layer. That's not normal, is it?
But it's not been cold yet, has it? Not proper cold. OK, I know I live in London where we get two or three degrees leeway over the surrounding countryside. But the temperature this autumn's not yet been low enough for me to feel a chill outdoors, even first thing in the morning before it warms up for the day. I know I'll be fine so long as I can make it to the station without shivering, because it's always warmed up by the time hometime comes around. Meanwhile loads of other people out there are already wrapped up tight in woolly hats and/or scarves and/or gloves. Goodness knows how they'll cope when it eventually gets proper cold.
Maybe I'm one of those people who doesn't feel the cold. I'm the last person in the office to say "ooh, it's a bit chilly isn't it, can you turn the thermostat up?" Or maybe I'm more tolerant. If it gets a little nippy then I put up with it, especially if it only means being outside for a few minutes. Or maybe I'm just being plain awkward. I mean, I haven't had the central heating on at home yet. Bet you have. I haven't even needed an extra jumper on indoors, which is my usual radiator-avoidance tactic. That's not normal either, is it?
I do own a coat, I just don't like it very much. It's a long-ish black number, wool blend, fairly smart. But it's also fairly old. Most trendy with-it people buy a new coat each winter season - the very latest must-have weatherproof style statement. But not me. My coat's nine seasons old, and neither military-chic nor blouson-tastic (or whatever this year's cutting-edge options are). Worse, it's well past its prime, as you'd notice if you got up to the fabric too close. It really is time I bought myself another.
But I hate shopping for clothes, as I think I've mentioned before. There are too many styles, in too many colours, and I never know what to get. Would I look stupid in brown, or is charcoal the only shade to consider? Knee-length, or calf-length, or short and jackety? Chunky cuffs, flappy collar, or preferably neither? Or is this the moment to head upmarket and get myself a smart suit, because men who wear suits can hold off wearing a winter coat for several more weeks? I don't know. Me, I look at outerwear in shops and I haven't a clue. And because I haven't a clue I buy nothing.
I fear this may be the week I finally admit defeat. The tipping point of autumn beyond which I can't get away with coatlessness any longer. Once the mercury dips too low it'll be futile to resist, and I'll be forced to admit that summer's finally ebbed away. Then I'll stick my old coat on, even though I know I should have replaced it by now, and revert to my unfashionable multi-layered persona.
You'll not spot me next week, I'll have blended back into the crowd again. But I'll be easy to spot again in March next year. I'll be the one not wearing a coat.