This is Oxford Street in London. It’s the busiest shopping street in London (possibly in all of Europe) and crammed full of tourists. Add to this the thousands of shoppers that visit there every day and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a marriage made in hell.
I made the mistake of going there this weekend. It’s bad any time of year, but in December it’s the kind of stress-inducing activity that could send you running for the closest pub or to swear you off shopping for life.
Every year the lights get turned on with some big show and some minor celebrity. This year it was Take That’s Robbie Williams, who entertained people with catchy pop songs. He said that turning on the lights was ‘pretty special’. I fear the quote lacks pizzazz, but I can only work with what I’m given.
The lights are always sponsored by a company. One year it was Bird’s Eye, the purveyors of quality frozen food (cough). I vaguely remember Bird’s Eye fish (or maybe it was birds), strung up in lights, beadily staring at me. It was a low point in Christmas lighting.
This year it’s Marmite, a company known for producing a yeast extract spread that you could use for cooking or, if you really want to torture yourself, on bread. Their slogan is famously: ‘You either love it or you hate it.’ I can tell you right now that I hate it.
I remain undecided about the lights. Could they be trying to send us a subliminal message about shopping or Christmas?