It's not quite cold enough for snow and nor are turkeys running for cover, but I'm feeling festive. It happens at this point every year. At the point in August when summer STOPS and we board the magical, almost musical sleigh-ride that is The X Factor. Destination Christmas number one.
TV's biggest circus is back, for an eighth series - whatever happened to Kate Thornton? - complete with a reassuringly ripe collection of freaks, bearded ladies and even the odd gem in the ball of candy floss.
Even before this year's auditions began, the main story was the new judging panel. Could Take That's Gary Barlow slip convincingly into the polo-neck trousers vacated by Simon Cowell? Gary brought "a ton of experience", but no razor. "If I don't find a superstar, I've failed".
"International pop superstar" Kelly Rowland reminded us she'd been in Destiny's Child, but wasn't Beyonce. I didn't doubt her. Tulisa from British band "N-Dubz" summed up her credentials. "We write our own songs, so I know what I'm talking about!"
So, with judges in place, onto the vast O2 stage in London stepped the first hopeful. 18 year-old Frankie from Brighton wants to win The X Factor to "sleep with as many women as possible". Not a cry often associated with the men of that proud seaside town, but with his rugged good looks, Rod Stewart-esque vocal and the names of seven women tattooed on his bottom, Frankie left to unanimous praise from the panel and the dubious claim from Kelly that she'd be happy to become the eighth.
In Birmingham, 16 year-old Janet hid her nerves behind a shock of pre-Raphaelite curls. Her version of Elton John's "Your Song" was considered "mesmerizing", earned a standing ovation and the badge, "one to watch".
Hang on... these are The X Factor auditions! We watch to remind ourselves that delusion isn't solely reserved for the Celebrity Big Brother house. Wendy hoped to become the UK's "Britney Spears", but was somewhat old for school uniform and strangled the life out of "Wuthering Heights" - never one of Britney's best. At this point, Gary asked, "Is it too late to resign?!"
But, where were the tears and tantrums?
Oh, the producers haven't lost their ability to tease. Last - and by every means least - sloped on George, an angry young man here to "clear his name" after a previous row with Simon. But his tuneless drawl was brought to a premature halt by Gary and George turned his aggression on Tulisa. "Where's Cheryl?!" Escorted off to a chorus of jeers more tuneful than his own performance, Tulisa watched open-mouthed and asked "What kind of audition was that?!"
Tulisa, you have so much to learn! There are plenty more where George came from. I very much hope to see them in the next four months.