Bath city centre may have its celebrity sprinkled Christmas lights switch-on, with its big screen and massed choirs, but over in little old Widcombe we have our own, albeit modest, alternative lighting-up ceremony.
Ours is on December 1st and basically consists of me in a sparkly frock dressed as my alter-ego Lady Margaret leading all-comers along the street to see what festive delights the local traders have come up with. These might be tripping the light fantastic to the sounds of the Widcombe Wobblers, late shopping in our specialist shops or steaming vats of mulled wine in the White Hart’s gorgeous garden or outside Lennie’s café. Or even a glass of sherry in the burger joint (this latter reserved exclusively for her ladyship, though I swear the proprietor has made that bottle last for several years).
Over in the Baptist church car park, a brass trio will accompany the al fresco carol service while the strains of a jazz band emerge from one of the street’s many delightful hostelries. The choir is usually mightily relieved when Lady M opts to stop exercising her tremulous vocal chords and nips across the road to the Ring O’Bells to lubricate them instead.
Nick Steel (he of the Bath Comedy Festival) will have organised his troops to erect an illuminated tree on every building, a task he moans about every year but at which he always succeeds magnificently. Our little twinkling trees, en masse, are easily as good as the city centre’s grand efforts.
Adding to the fun will be the Natural Youth Theatre, if you can get through the mob of proud camera-wielding parents. We’ve even persuaded one of our board members to dress as a fairy and shake the bucket for Widcombe Rising street picnic.
Our village-within-the-city is difficult to locate for the casual visitor at the moment. We were thinking of publishing a Where’s Widcombe? in the mode of Where’s Wally? what with the labyrinthine station renovation works, the still dreary tunnel and the unappealing peeling footbridge. But if you can negotiate all that, on December 1st Lady Margaret will be pleased to greet you, and Claverton Street (and her ladyship) will be all aglow, a veritable pearl within the oyster!
See www.widcombe.net for details