There may be a recession, but this is a wonderful year for Christmas lights. In fact, the economic crisis may have improved the tone.

Everywhere in London, the lights are white. Last year, Sloane Square was blue, a colour, in lighting terms, mostly associated with the unexpected appearance of emergency vehicles in one’s rear-view mirror. Certainly, it is not a traditional colour of Christmas. But now, the Square is an enchantment of delicate snowflakes, complemented by what looks like a frozen waterfall down the façade of Peter Jones.

Pimlico Road is particularly elegant, as you would expect from all those antique shops; but the great surprise is Regent Street. Not so long ago, these lights would have been sponsored by a Hollywood film company, promoting its latest box-office hit. This year, they take the form of sparkling sheets of glitter slung across the street that, when viewed in perspective, look very pretty.

I hear strange stories from friends who notice these things about South Molton Street weird, apparently. Well, there has to be one rogue. But for the rest, London seems to have decided to make this Christmas specially charming. It may be unintended perhaps these chaste, abstract effects are cheaper than lurid novelty ones. If so, the recession has done some good after all.