In the country, that pre-Christmas feel can be hard to rustle up when there’s no frost or snow, just a relentless drizzle of rain. But in town, you can’t escape the images of red-nosed reindeer and jolly Santas: every high street is bedecked and glittering in celebration of the consumer festival. Several trips to parties lately have been delayed while yet another street performs an elaborate switching-on of the lights ceremony, accompanied by local school choirs singing their gutsy hearts out on a temporary stage.
Bobbies on the beat smile and tap their feet, and everyone in the crowd grins manically, pulling £20 notes out of their pockets as if to the beat of a metronome. Some lights really are spectacular the best-designed have to be the ones on South Molton Street. Oxford Street always seems to avoid any reference to Christmas, instead stringing up neon-lit cartoon characters. The tree in Trafalgar Square, an annual present from Norway to thank us for our help in the Second World War, adds to the spirit of things is it really true that we send them, by return, the electricity bill for the lights? Bah, humbug. That’s the townie spirit.