It’s November – time to settle into autumn and the anticipation of festive giddiness to come. With silvery morning mists and pale sunlight dappling the rusting golds in this leafy city of mine, this is one of my favourite months of the year – a treasure chest of crunchy, woodland walks, spectacular fireworks, and blazing bonfires.

But this year has turned into a soggy, mulchy mess, with cut-price sparklers that fizzle out into disappointment, and limited warmth from our hastily purchased fire-pits. This is no fun-fair anymore. Disneyland with all its magic has downgraded into Dismal-land in this lacklustre lockdown.

I’m fed up of the corona-coaster ride where another oven-ready, quick-fix vaccine has us pumped up with excitement before we plummet, screaming when we learn that it won’t be ready until next year. Then up we go again with the possibility of a pre-Christmas roll-out. But as we wave our arms in the air with joy, the experts wag their fingers at us, advising caution, so once again we plunge into despair.

I can brace myself for that steep hill of isolation, knowing I’ll have the reward of seeing loved ones on the other side. But what if I no longer trust the big-dipper operator? Am I going to be left hanging in the air wondering if anyone will come to my rescue?

I’ve had enough of playing dodgems in the supermarket, particularly with the renegade thrill-seekers whose log-flume sprays of unmasked sneezing is one ride I never asked to join. And the ghost train Zoom-calls with long-lost relatives suddenly unmuting themselves and looming into video-view no longer make me jump. They make me sad instead.

The Octopus, with its centrally-controlled up-and-down jolting, went out of public favour years ago. But now it’s popped up again, and its intrusive tentacles, with their inexplicable movements, are spreading unwanted into our daily lives. Before long it will be knocking on our haunted houses full of wailing and cobwebs, to check on our behaviour and dig out any skeletons in the cupboard.

It conned us into believing that one turn of the Ferris wheel would be enough to do the trick but second time round we’re still stuck at the top. We all want to get off. We don’t like the view anymore.

Maybe we would have been better off on the Pirate Ship, roaming freely across the Corona Ocean? But that vessel has already sailed. And it’s no friendly Boaty McBoatface. Many sailors have perished along the way. But still it attracts the desperate and disillusioned who prefer to walk the plank and take their chances in the Covid-infested seas, pandemic-partying their way towards Oblivion.

The rest of us, for now, are still clinging on to the Carousel of good conduct. But this merry-go-round has lost all its merriment, and the only ones reaping the benefits are the superstore sellers of popcorn and candyfloss.

Yet I have to remember, as I look at my reflection in the Hall of Mirrors, that all is not as it seems. Sometimes when it gets too much, and comfort-eating is the only answer, then I see a miserable, distorted version of myself. But after dopamine-inducing activities there’s a superhero-goddess staring back in triumph at me. Besides, if I don’t like what I see in the mirror, then it’s not the mirror I need to change. It’s myself.

More often than not the image in front of me makes me laugh. And whilst I retain my sense of humour, all is well with the world. God forbid the laughter dies out. But if it does, then I know it’s time for a visit to my inner wise woman Fortune Teller.

Her Romany heritage may be of doubt and her crystal ball may be of plastic but if I cross her palm with enough silver, she’ll foresee wealth, health and happiness, along with a tall, dark stranger. And for now, that’ll have to do. Because we all need some hope in life.

I’m not going to squander my money at the coconut shy, in a vain attempt to get the top prize. No, it’s the Hook-a-duck stall for me, with a little gift always guaranteed. And that’s all I want.  I’m not after the mad swirling and twirling of the Waltzer with its disco soundtrack. All I crave is a gently Spinning Teacup and the chance to meet up with my nearest and dearest in the Tunnel of Love.