A growing fad for town councils is, of course, street markets which are supposed to bring an atmosphere of Christmas to town with often a ‘ Victorian’ three-day market, as a few stall holders (well one or two), wear red Santa Claus costumes or battered Top Hats. What these actually bring to the table is obscure, as in at least two towns to my knowledge the ensuing traffic problems caused by roads being closed off for two or three days at a time by the councils and private company ‘partners’ is often not appreciated by either bona fide shop owners, struggling to keep afloat to pay the business rates demanded these days, or local ratepayers aggrieved by transient market stall holders taking up pavement space, often with diesel engine generators blasting out fumes all day long (which at least masks the eye-watering smells of freshly cooked street food).
Locals have also commented on the damage that is caused by market vehicular traffic driving and parking on public and pedestrian paved areas, which, if done by them would soon elicit a fine being imposed by the many street parking wardens. The more-than casual observer, trying to get to work or preferring to shop in regular shops, may be forgiven for wondering what they pay local taxes for, as their elected councillors – like their national counterparts – ignore the wishes of local residents, as they work tirelessly, it seems, to turn the town into a microcosm of the country at large – which is a shambles, (shambles being the original term for a meat market). Street entertainment is sometimes provided, presumably licensed by the authorities, and allowed by police who last year and this year warned visitors of the presence of ‘pickpockets’ which is at least very ‘Victorian.’
Last year at 10am in the morning and in the middle of the market two or three middle aged men gave an exhibition of bare-knuckle fighting, much appreciated by visitors and locals alike gaping open-mouthed at the spectacle. Obviously, they all ran off to ‘hide and tell’ without success as police did not arrive to sort out this alarming and distressing public-order event which some would have us believe is all part and parcel of living in a thriving town or city.
All this of course, is ignored by the council, despite many complaints by residents about the traffic problems, state of roads and public places, the lack of a visible police presence, drug dealers in evidence and aggressive, often drunk, beggars and the homeless taking over shop doorways and public places.
They have though declared a ‘climate emergency’, so will presumably be raising local taxes to contribute towards effective methods to combat this locally.
Meanwhile back home in St. Mary on the Wold, it’s easy to presume that all is well with the world. The local church has organised a Carol Service as usual, the local shop has a ‘donate for our less fortunate neighbours’ who need the assistance of the food banks, the local Christmas tree has been erected (hopefully this year the local youth won’t think it’s a good idea to try and destroy it as has become the tradition for the last few years.)
Thieves don’t celebrate Christmas and goodwill it seems and have already stolen the wheels off the Santa Claus sleigh built by volunteers to collect for charity. But to be fair many homes are ablaze with white and blue lights bringing an element of cheer to these darkest days of the year. Lights though get more ostentatious each year, the days of the illuminated advent candles in the window have long since gone, life-size Reindeer and giant illuminated Santa Clauses being de-rigueur this year, the local shop has wall to wall beer and liquor crates on display and enough rich food on sale to break anyone’s diet intentions for the next year never mind Christmas Day. One neighbour was heard exclaiming that Christmas was getting more and more expensive and had spent £400 on booze just for her Christmas day festivities with family.
All this is, apparently, to celebrate Christmas. 26% of our residents when asked by our local council said they did not identify with any religion, which perhaps explains why the meaning of Christmas is being undermined and perhaps lost on many people, it’s for many just another excuse for an orgy of over-indulgence, showing off how much you can spend on tat, and a two-week holiday culminating with the New Year celebrations and yet another orgy of ‘ buy buy buy’ and ‘enjoy enjoy enjoy’ and look at ‘me me me’ ready to be shown on social media.
The beating pulse of the future, according to Blair, people with an age of living experience and the wisdom that brings should maybe take a minute to ask what sort of future will that be and to ask themselves if that is what they ‘really really want.’
Photo by TheJRB