Monday, 9 November 2020


A recent combination of cold nights and mild, damp mornings in this corner of Britain led to one of my favourite weather conditions manifesting itself over the weekend and served as a welcome reminder of why autumn is the season I enjoy most - fog!  From Friday through to Sunday there were varying degrees of pea-soupiness as the days progressed, with a particularly fine and atmospheric curtain of thick fog occurring first thing in the morning and materialising again in the evening, with wisps of mist lasting well into the day (and sometimes still in evidence even now).

source - imgur
I do love me a bit of fog (in case you hadn't guessed) and got terribly excited when glancing out of the window on Saturday night to see - well, not much really beyond a wall of dim white haze but the realisation that this was the first proper ground cloud of autumn practically made my day.  It's all I can do to stop myself from going out into it for a walk and sometimes I do give in to the temptation to venture forth and embrace the murkiness.  There's just something about fog and mist that really gets in amongst me - the way in envelops everything and gives it an eerie, otherworldly appearance that no other weather can replicate; the manner in which it is inextricably linked to this time of year, when the ground is covered with fallen leaves and the trees become gaunt, shadowy figures thrusting their branches out from the brume.  People and cars appear and disappear almost out of nowhere (in the case of cars sometimes unnecessarily so if the driver hasn't deigned to put on any lights - one of my few frustrations related to foggy conditions) and places one knows and recognises in clear conditions become strange and unfamiliar, all thanks to the interaction of cold and warm, moist air/ ground.

Women wear "smog masks" in London on the 17th
November 1953
source - The Guardian
Of course fog has not always had a harmless, inoffensive air (ahem!) about it, especially when it mixes with air pollution brought about by car fumes and the like to create the dreaded smog, much of which plagued many parts of Britain right up to the 1960s (as the above footage shows) - the most famous being the Great Smog of London during 1952 and 1953 which resulted in over 4,000 deaths and 100,000 people suffering from respiratory illnesses as a direct result.  Thankfully things have moved on in the subsequent 68 years and we are now able to go out in the fog without having to worry about catching a respiratory disease - at least not from that source!  In other respects however we are seeing a repeat of events from nearly seventy years ago, with masks once again being very much a necessity in all weathers.

A smoggy Ludgate Hill, London, captured in November 1922
source - The Guardian

But we're not here to dwell on the past horrors of smog but rather the joyful ghostliness of natural fog and what better way to celebrate it and the coming of autumn than with a selection of songs from my favourite era, the 1920s and '30s, all of which reference that most vaporous form of weather.  

We start in 1927 with a recording composed by the famous American cornetist and piano player Bix Beiderbecke who is on fine form in this 9th September 1927 New York performance where we find ourselves In A Mist.

Skiping forward to 1929 and the great Duke Ellington & his Cotton Club Orchestra perform a tune that is particularly evocative of a hazy dawn breaking over the rural farm on a brisk autumnal day - Misty Mornin', recorded here on the 3rd May 1929.  Ellington first cut this haunting melody on the 22nd November 1928 and would go on to make several different versions over the years so I am sure this will not be the last time it appears on this blog in one form or another.

The most famous fog-based song from the Thirties is of course George and Ira Gerswhin's A Foggy Day, which will forever be linked with the incomparable Fred Astaire and his consummate performance of it in the 1937 film A Damsel In Distress.  Having featured that recording back when I last did a fog-derived post in 2010(!) I thought I would feature another version of it this time by the British dance band leader Geraldo (real name Gerald Bright) and his Orchestra, with vocalist Cyril Grantham doing a good job with the lyrics in this recording made some time in 1938.  

We finish with this 1934 recording of Lost In A Fog, another standard of the day that was recorded by various different artists including Cassino Simpson, Coleman Hawkins and The Dorsey Brothers.  On this occasion however we hear it sung by well-known American singer and band leader Rudy Vallée, in a version that reached Number 4 in the U.S. charts in that year.

A beautiful shot of a fog-covered Richmond Bridge, London
source - Pinterest

Well that's it for this mist-enshrouded post - I hope you've enjoyed reading my thoughts on this most mesmerising of meteorological conditions, or at the very least had your toes tapping along to the accompanying musical miasma.  Is it foggy where you are?  Let me know what the weather's doing where you are and what your favourite type is in the comments below!

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