Minor British Institutions: Christmas lights
What could be more innocent than celebrating our winter festival with light to defy the darkness and warm the soul? Not in Britain, however, where no opportunity, however sweet, simple and unpromising, is missed to demonstrate distinctions and supposed superiorities, ie, nudge and smirk.
Thus you will of course be aware that Christmas lights should only be white, despite a regrettable recent tendency to blue.
Lights should not flash in sequence. Only restrained outside lighting is allowed, and never on the house itself. That latter is the preserve of happy unhumbugs who really like Christmas: Mr Paul Toole, for example, who, according to a newspaper report, has 50,000 lights on and around his home in Wells, Somerset ("unbelievably tacky", commented a reader from Oxford).
Elsewhere, the usual rows about the expense and absence of public lights are flickering nicely all round the country. We say: lighten up everybody.
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