After the razzmatazz of the Bath Christmas lights ceremony, we in Widcombe always have our own modest switch-on. This year it’s on the evening of 29th November as we feel that a month in advance is enough time to get seasonal (Though Christmas fruit gums were spotted on sale not long after Easter in one of our shops)
Our switch-on, which is carried out by my alter-ego Lady Margaret, is somewhat bizarre since the lights are usually already on. We can’t afford an integrated digital laser circuit…our trees are simply plugged into the nearest socket! We just ask the audience to close their eyes, open them again on a count of three and pretend to be amazed. Simple but effective.
Lady Margaret, in an attempt to bring an air of celebrity to the occasion, usually wears a mask representing whatever famous personage has done the Milsom Street gig. So this year she’ll no doubt be sporting John Bishop’s mug. Due to the Arts Council cuts she will not, as is the tradition, be wearing a brand new outfit. Last year’s Christmas frock still fits (just) we are told.
The event will be one of the first outings for the new Widcombe Choir and there will more live music up and down the street and late shopping. Lady Margaret will attempt to guide the gathered crowds to all the participating businesses, but in years past the proliferation of free mulled wine (for her ladyship, you understand, not for Joe Public) has been known to delay her progress.
In a new development, the lighting-up is followed by a Christmas Cabaret in the Natural Theatre’s new studio. Acts include Bill Smarme, Bath Camerata, New Old Friends and those boys who are camping out with no money and living off food bartered for their performances. This will be the last night of their ordeal, so we want people to bring an item of grocery such as a tin of beans, because, believe me, by then those lads will be starving.
There will be fairies, gnomes, carol singing and secret buffets. Lady M will even be declaring the new dental practice open. Open wide presumably.
All very eccentric, all very Widcombe!
Widcombe Switch-on 29th November 6pm for 6.30pm outside the White Hart. Cabaret 7.30pm for 8pm.