FEELING Christmassy? Don’t say no. If you say no, you will be immediately branded a grumpy old scrooge who doesn’t like good things by the grotto police. So, yes, we’re all feeling Christmassy. Aren’t we. In November. Rainy November. And as such: Bring on the Christmas lights.
Now, when it comes to the big switch ons organisers have a dilemma: Who should they get for the big button pressing moment? This might sound like a superficial matter but get it wrong and there could be arguments in the council chamber. Like when politicians scoffed at the choice of John Fashanu, the rough and tumble footballer turned TV presenter, who switched on the lights in Camden Town back in 2005. Conservative councillor Andrew Mennear claimed that ‘Fash the Bash’ had no obvious link to the area and was known for, what in kind terms, has been described as a more physical style of football. Apparently the council tried and failed to get Charles Dance. And Suggs.
See that old yarn here, but I remember Andrew’s quote in the council chamber standing out: “It is unfortunate that the abbreviation that goes with his name – The Bash – which I accept did relate to his time on the football pitch is associated here with the switching on of Christmas lights in Camden Town.”
There were no such problems in Hampstead at the weekend where the lights went on, on Sunday. They did pretty well in the celebrity stakes, hauling in chef Raymond Blanc and Fiona Bruce, fresh from doing Beyonce impersonations in the annual newsreader jamboree on Children In Need last Friday. Their appearance follows on from Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, who did the job last year. That’s A-List stuff.
In Highgate meanwhile, Lesley Garrett did the honours on Friday afternoon. I hate to say that’s an upgrade from Minty from Eastenders who did the job last year, you can make your own call on that.
So, what’s happening in Camden Town? In the past, we’ve obviously had Fash. We’ve had Blu Cantrell, the American singer who did a song once. And we’ve had a couple of Mayors, usually accompanied by a school choir. For a place as supposedly rocking as Camden Town, that’s not much of a record. If Suggs isn’t around, can’t we get his Madness mate Chas Smash? He’s a friendly guy and usually amenable to these type of things.
Although it might be nice, nobody in Camden is expecting a big show like in Birmingham where X-Factor yelp-inducers JLS turned up and people were injured in the crush. There would be genuine safety concerns down by the canal if everyone poured into NW1.
But look elsewhere. The X-Factor rejects are doing the rounds and should be get-able at short notice. Jamie Archer – the one known mainly for his hair – is two-timing northern towns by flicking the switch in both Rochdale and Preston, while Lucie, another finalist, is also on lights duty elsewhere up north. Crawley has Steve McFadden (not sure he’s right for Camden Town but better than nothing, eh?), football manager Steve Bruce is taking care of business in Sunderland, while Plymouth will go wild for Christopher Biggins.
Even little Bidford plans to have actress Una Stubbs on the buzzer; on a population to celebrity rating ratio – that’s a fine effort.
Some celebrations in NW1, I gather, are planned for December 3 – the good thing about that is that we are into advert calendar territory datewise by then, far more Christmassy – and a band is promised at the MTV studios. That sounds like a step in the right direction. Camden Town should be able to go one better than Phil Mitchell.