I thought she looked a little wan, verging on the lightly ashen, and assumed it to be an affliction evoked by the dreary dampness which has infected the air for so many weeks now. Being nothing if not a man of letters, ever ready to take up pen and keyboard in rigorous defence of a lovely but stricken lady, I felt an ode coming on and thought of ash:
Shall I compare thee
To a smoggy day in old Beijing
Where ne’er a merry roundelay is heard
For not a bird will deign to sing
To woo its mate with lovelorn din
But coughs instead
Don’t ask. I have observed that while one’s actions might be controllably circumspect, one’s state of mind is often implacably independent of saner virtues.