Canberra readers! Come closer. I have a secret, a true confession to whisper to you. Lots of you will scarcely believe your ears and will be left what the tabloids call "ashen-faced".
But then, many of you may feel liberated by what I am about to confess because you, too, have long harboured the same secret belief in your bosoms, afraid to speak up for fear that you are perverse and alone.
And so, I emerge hesitantly from the closet to whisper that leafy Canberra's autumn is for me the Season From Hell. As an aesthete who cares about the looks of everything, I find the colours of autumn leaves lurid and disgusting.
As I write the city's parks and streetscapes (those cursed with deciduous trees) are approaching peak gaudiness and Canberra fans of this ugliness are reaching peak gush.
Wednesday's edition of this newspaper contained a misguided song of praise to autumn's barbarous leaf colours which included a kind of guide (shudder!) to where these orgies of deciduousness can be seen at their most orgiastic, and (horror!) the annual Times invitation to readers to send in their photographs of these horrors.
Meanwhile, ABC television finishes its 7.30 news bulletin with a viewer's photograph, shocking to aesthetes, of either an autumn sunset or autumn leafscape of eye-smiting nastiness, featuring colours that shrieking, are carrying on like pork chops.
Slow-witted, stuck-in-their-ways readers will be bewildered by the notion that nature can and does produce visions of ugliness. We have a sentimental, poorly-thought-through bias in nature's favour (the romantic poets must take some of the blame for this) that imagines that everything nature makes and paints is surely pure and perfect. We think nature's every prospect pleases, while only man is vile. God made the country (with its trees and greenswards, babbling brooks and trilling birds) while flawed man made the town with its grime and noise, its hideous and polluting dark satanic mills.
I was helped out of this nature-is-always-perfect delusion (subconsciously I had always known it was nonsense) many years ago when I came across this liberating passage in Evelyn Waugh's Labels, a book about his Mediterranean travels.
"I do not think," he muses, "I shall ever forget the sight of Etna at sunset; the mountain almost invisible in a blur of pastel grey, glowing at the top and then repeating its shape, as though reflected, in a wisp of grey smoke, with the whole horizon radiant with pink light. Nothing I have ever seen in Art or Nature was quite so revolting."
The first time one reads this passage one is lulled into thinking one is reading yet another gushing account of nature's unimpeachable loveliness. Then, with that last very Waughian sentence, there is that refreshing Shock of the New, the new (and true) idea that nature can be revoltingly tasteless.
There is a similarly liberating idea in Edith Wharton's poem An Autumn Sunset, a poem you expect from its title is going to be a sentimental song of praise of nature painting yet another (supposedly) perfect sunsetscape. Instead, for this is a muscular poem about important things (that we have no room to discuss them here) the poet finds the colour red in the evening sunset alarmingly nasty, a bloody red that paints the sky "in universal carnage".
Yes, so many Canberra sunsets, especially in autumn and especially those ABC TV news sunsets the ABC thinks so lovely, seem (to the aesthete) full of butchery.
Autumn leaves, too, strike some especially revolting hues of red (out through my study window and across the street I can see a vulgar tree dressed in a clown's costume of a kind of fluorescent burgundy), as well as of course wild palettes of crazed oranges, mad-as-a-meataxe yellows and debauched greens.
In autumn, Canberra's leaves and Canberra's sunsets badly let down our normally tasteful and aesthetically pleasing city. It is as though Canberra, dressing stylishly and tastefully for much of the year, in autumn suddenly feels the need to wear the cheapest and nastiest of Hawaiian shirts.
Hasten, cultivated and elegant winter, to deliver us from the temporary insanity of this season of flashy fallalery!
Thank goodness then, with so much of my leafy neighbourhood made hideous by nature's gruesome autumn, there is some welcome, counter, man-made beautification provided by the Liberal Party's many election posters.
Tastefully navy blue, with a few shy skin tones in the portraits of the smiling (unkind people might even say smirking) candidates, they are lifting the tone of my otherwise autumn-debauched arrondissement.
Delighted by the posters I have gone right up to one of them while walking my dog. I had half-expected, in my naivety, to find in Zed Seselja's eerily larger-than-life face (or perhaps in some small print beneath it) some apology, some expression of remorse for his attempts to install the loathsome Peter Dutton as our prime minister. This seemed, on Seselja's part, conduct unbecoming in a Canberra member of the parliament. But no, I can find no trace of regret or apology, of a sense of lessons learned
"Please don't do that, Voss!" I pleaded (but without conviction, and without tugging on his leash) as my four-legged friend, voting with his bladder, cocked his leg against the poster's Liberal stake.