‘Light switch on shows how far town has come’


To the centre of Thame this week for the annual switching on of the Christmas lights.

I must say that this has become a really big event over the last few years. All I can remember of the Christmas lights in the previous Millennium is the year that someone nicked all the bulbs from the lower branches.

Back then the tree used to just sort of spring up like an avenging fir-based bollard one night in December and stay there as a solitary beacon of civic yuletide joy.

Then when the Little Thamensians started attending primary schools we started to come along and enjoy them shrieking carols from the back of a truck while the lights were switched on.

Dean Martin would sing ‘Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain’ and after a thorough soaking we would all go and buy baubles from Woolworths and then go home for tea.

In the last three or four years the lights have become much more of an occasion.

As I approached last Friday I joined a steady stream of happy families, all wrapped up warm and sporting silly winter hats.

The Buttermarket looked great with its carefully arranged blue and yellow lights and the trees around the top car park (there is probably a proper name, but it escapes me) looked fabulously festive. Outside Martins, local youths nursed grazes and dislocated elbows as they demonstrated skateboard ramps.

They must have been terrified to be performing in front of a crowd, but certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

A little further on, stalls of trinkets and nick-nacks twinkled merrily between two roasting animals while a Dickensian gentleman roasted his chestnuts gently over a fire.

Children wobbled on a sanitised snowboard contraption as the smallest children glided on the artificial ice rink.

It was all accompanied by the massed choir, and later by the excellent Lord Bills Little Bills Blues Bills Band of Bills, blasting their way without remorse through a non-Christmas themed set. Excellent.

Russell Grant raised the innuendo level as he plugged his pantomime in Aylesbury (Roger the Cabin Boy indeed), while my old friend MC Rev rushed around in his Primark Christmas jumper, doing an excellent job of hosting the event.

My favourite moment came when Grant, an avid non-league football fan, asked the mayor what league Thame United were in, causing a terrible eggy moment until someone shouted out the answer. Splendid entertainment.

Over in Witney people were getting arrested for assaulting their light switcher onner, while here in Thame we did it with style, with pride and with a proper twinkle.

Congratulations to all involved.

Yet again Thame is a shining light.