Circumstances (and fate) have conspired against me and this is not the blog I wanted to write. Instead I present a truncated version with a few words and a lot of pictures.
Nothing says Christmas like a tree full of lights sparkling against the dark of a winter evening sky. Framed by curtains left open long after they are usually closed against the cold, it’s an enduring memory of my childhood, the tree sitting on a special Christmas mat (that was still in use for many years after it became more tape than paper) on my parents’ polished sideboard.
Another image stuck in my mind is of streets lit by ropes of lights strung between buildings: the Sheffield illuminations. Wrapped up against the winter chill it was a treat to stroll the streets long after shops had shut, gazing up at angels, reindeer, bells and other Christmas images, Father Christmas driving his tinsel covered sleigh across the street high above me.
Sadly the splendour of Sheffield’s lights has disappeared beneath layers of time and cost-cutting and they are now not a patch on what I remember. But London has a tradition to maintain. Or, at least, thousands of tourists to indulge. And indulged we are, street after street of pretty twinkling displays.
From the huge tree in Leicester Square to the starry night of Seven Dials via the colour of Carnaby Street’s eco-friendly fun (everything is either recycled or reusable, even if the whale does look like it’s carrying a dancing alien…) It’s all marvellous. Only Oxford Street is disappointing – clearly minimalism is on trend here.
It’s a busy walk, crowds thronging every pavement, spilling onto the road in places, but everyone is full of peace and joy and, for a change, it doesn’t bother me. I’m too busy staring upwards – in awe at how a few bulbs and a few volts of electricity can look so pretty, and in admiration of the humans that create such beautiful artworks.
Enjoy Neil’s pictures and, wherever you are, I wish you a very Happy Christmas.