Normally, I can’t find a good word to say about February. It’s a month to endure, but, mercifully, thanks to some warm-hearted friend who decided these things, it’s the shortest. Dark, cold and punctuated these days by the ghastly consumerism that has become St Valentine’s Day, February is best spent away from Britain in a sunnier climate. Shakespeare understood February: ‘Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?’ But, these past few days, I’ve had to throw away all my preconceptions. Last weekend was glorious. Warm, sunny, and full of birdsong, with the odd brimstone butterfly adding a fluttering touch of yellow to the wild primroses flowering in the hedgerow.

The children ran barefoot across the grass as if it were midsummer. It was wonderful, but it wasn’t really February. As we report in this week’s Leader, is this a false dawn before a catastrophe? February shouldn’t be like this it isn’t natural. If it carries on like this, we’ll lose our seasons altogether. We’ll soon be praying for gloomy old February to come back with all its moody melancholy.