An Englishman’s castle is his homogeneity

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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What, if anything, says Christmas more than a 30ft bright blue castle gatehouse with white pointing and a wizard sat on top?

A blue-clad wizard, I should specify, in long flowing robes and pointed hat, clutching a light bulb (from the look of the whole magical edifice I suspect a large round shade once covered said bulb, thereby creating the illusion of a crystal ball; any such feature is long gone, unfortunately, and from street level a fairly basic electric light fitting is clearly visible to the festive fun seekers passing below).

A trick question, obviously. The crude plastic behemoth which has loomed over Preston’s festive Flag Market this past while says nothing about Christmas.

Indeed, this eyesore is comfortably the least seasonally appropriate clod of matter – on such a stupendous scale – that I have ever seen or hope to see thrown up in the name of marking Yuletide.

Putting aside the wizard’s Santa-esque white beard – and something tells me that whoever clinched the deal bringing the great ugly lump to town was singularly unable to do so – not one solitary aspect of this edifice chimes with the symbols and traditions with which we Europeans have long defined our festive season.

At a guess I would say it was once part of a Disney-copyright infringing Merlin-themed ride or experience, but to be honest this is neither here nor there.

What matters is that it’s here. Right there. A towering reminder, despite all our self-adoring waffle about heritage and history and British values, of the blithe contempt in which we now hold our traditions.

That corner of the square needs something (apparently), and this is something, sort of wintry, so it’ll do, yeah?

Box ticked. Ersatz Christmas. This said, if it cost any money at all they were ripped off soft.

Incidentally, last year yours truly was branded a Grinch (not Scrooge, tellingly, I thought) for denouncing the Coke Truck as a gross and disrespectful Americanised commercial cash-in.

Am sure similar sentiment will follow this modest grumble in defence of Britain’s true, warmer, less showy, more European, less obviously US-led gimmicky Christmas.

Feel free to vent via the usual channels. But before putting pen to paper consider this – you are wrong. And I am right. And you know it, too.