Alan Dee: Light relief as the tide turns on Santa’s sparkling displays
You might not be as aware of this development as I am, but take my word for it – the lights are going off all over the land, and with a bit of luck we shall not see them lit again.
I’m not talking about street lights, madam, and we’re not about to get into the rights and wrongs of turning off public utilities at a time when all good people should be in bed. I turn the lights off in my house when they’re not being used, and I expect the people spending my council tax to do the same. If you’re out in the small hours, take a torch and take precautions, all right?
No, the lights I am talking about are the cheery strings of twinkling tweeness that mark this time of year, festooned across the front of homes and gardens.
There has been, in recent years, a worrying trend to ape our American cousins by going bonkers with the Christmas lights.
Neighbours would compete for the most garish display, sometimes for charity and sometimes just for the hell of it, and turn their home into a mini Las Vegas complete with revolving snowmen, rampant reindeer and flashing compliments of the season.
It was only a couple of years ago that Dee Towers was one of the few down our street that didn’t feature some sort of seasonal display, standing dark and forbidding while all around it blinked and twinkled. And the displays would be switched on earlier and earlier each year, too, making the whole month of December a time for electricity board executives to rub their hands with glee at the prospect of the coming wonga windfall.
This year, there are no more than a handful of listless strings of lights draped in trees and bushes, and almost nothing adorning walls and windows.
And that’s a picture repeated elsewhere – there are still a few people who go over the top, but now they’re the exceptions rather than the trendsetters.
Why the tide has turned I don’t know. The cost of buying lights and keeping them juiced up in these tough times could be a contributory factor, I dare say, as could the distinct possibility that people just tired of the novelty and can’t be bothered with it any more.
But I prefer to think that it’s a sign of a nation collectively coming to its senses and realising that it is not mandatory to jump aboard any bandwagon foisted upon us by our cousins across the pond.
Hallowe’en, despite the best efforts of the retail giants, has singularly failed to take off on these shores, and is another indication that we are quite properly turning our backs on the cultural touchstones of the good old US of A.
Our next task must be to snub twerking and return to Morris dancing. Are you with me?