I have a feeling that things may seem to have taken a turn for the bleak and miserable of late, so I write to reassure that the sunny disposition of yours truly is still alive and well. I wish I could say the same of Berlin’s climate, which does its best to shroud the city’s peculiar beauty in a damp mantle of slate grey. I had not realised how much one might miss the sun, and certainly I don’t recall November being so dark, even through all the worst that English winters had to offer. Wearing grey flannel and crowning oneself with a black umbrella, one runs the risk of merging into the monochromatic cityscape, like a Lowry figure of no distinction. Today, as a matter of defiance to the weather (which is set to get worse, by the way), I donned socks to amuse the Teutonic passengers on the U-Bahn. Germans don’t have any compunction about staring at strangers, but today I saw one or two smiling to themselves in the process. I count that as a significant victory.