Had a saunter down the High Street last Saturday. It was time for the ‘Love Grays Christmas Lights Switch On’. I thought I really ought to do my bit to support local activities now that I was a resident. To surrender myself to the enjoyment of delightful festivities my Council Tax so cheerfully grants. And to demonstrate even more commitment, I turned up at noon so that I could experience the whole bang shoot.
Tots from 6 to 66 and way beyond infested a tiny stage, spilling off it in their valiant bid to holler out Christmas carols. Hours of adorable cuteness are obligatory at this time of the year. However, resistant as I was to it, an ungrateful pariah thought did begin to chisel itself into my head. Might this have been a tool the British had used to unify the Empire? Angelic Christmas carols that elevated enjoyment throughout the Commonwealth in praise of the Almighty? When I got home I scoured the internet. And indeed, British Christmas music books published in the 19th Century filled the Commonwealth with Christmas joy that has echoed down the ages in unflinching bliss to this day. Hallelujah!
And I believe Queen Charlotte introduced her Teutonic Christmas Tree tradition to Windsor in 1800? Ever since then, we have been plagued with the might of Christmas presents that erupt in increasing larger explosions from beneath ever more vulgarly tinsel adorned conifers. Hounded by kitschy Nutcracker dolls inspired by the German writer Hoffman, all spun up in mawkish, saccharine Christmas Fairy triteness. I dread to think how we are ever going to come to terms with this custom post-Brexit whose origins are blatantly going to be deemed unquestionably foreign!
In the bold quest for us all to Love Grays, this event to promote shopping for Christmas did seem like a most sensible idea – especially if one completely abandoned oneself to plunge headlong into the amazing consumer trip set out for us – dutifully visiting all the shops that displayed the love Grays heart. Heavens, one could even win a raffle prize! The commercialism of Christmas perfectly crafted with heartfelt religiosity. Awesome!
But what really hit home are the lingering effects of colonialism. A few moments into the miraculous extravagance of carol singing, I was accosted by a flyer bearing African. He did his utmost to convert me to Presbyterianism. I politely disclosed to him that Presbyterian is a very Eurocentric faith and asked if he had explored Asian faiths? He said, “Oh yes!” and pointed in the direction of his colleague who was also handing out flyers. He was Chinese and he was Presbyterianism. I let that rather peculiar line of reasoning pass and asked where his colleague was from. Hong Kong he said. That was a British colony, I retorted. And the Presbyterian Church is a form of the Protestant Church that emerged in Scotland. The argument I posed was lost in a retorting gush of verbosity. I wriggled out of his grip.
Far more amusing was what the local Arts Manager observed about the Hungarian hat I was wearing. “A lampshade on your head!” he pronounced with a deafening lack of originality. Aha, thought I! The moment has arrived to switch on the lights.
I’ve had Eureka moments ever since! Might there be a symbolic bond of infinite friendship lurking in there somewhere?