Saturday, December 11, 2004

Late night shopping

Annual event and I held the usual coffee and mince pies event in the Town Hall. It caused ructions the first year that we did it but the idea was one of those pure coincidences. We had booked the Town Hall for a fund raising event and realised that attendance may be limited because the late night shopping is a very popular event in Romsey so decided to scrap the event, put on coffee and mince pies and give the public a chance to say hi to their MP.

It was a very succesful event but some of the Tories hated it. I was accused of "hi-jacking Christmas" and "abuse of the Town Hall!". I seem to recall that I was also referred to as a grinch and my helpers were referred to as gnomes.

We have repeated the event every year since and the protests have died down but as we are in pre-election mode I wondered if someone might have a little dig this year. We shall see.

It seemed a little quieter this year (both inside and outside) but we did run out of mince pies so I may be wrong on that.

The evening usually opens with the arrival of Father Christmas on one of the roof tops and the local retained firefighters take great pleasure in showing off their skills and rescuing him. This year the event had to be changed slightly and Father Christmas was rescued from the top floor of the Town Hall. This was because the firefighters did not have the use of the tallest ladders so had to compromise - in the best spirit of being British.

So, why wasn't the ladder available? The excuse that it might be needed in Winchester is a bit thin as we have had access to the ladder for the past few years. More worryingly there were mutterings about "the time clashing with a shift change over" and "working to rule" and I even heard Tony Blair blamed for the new contract.

I really do hope that they were just rumours and the spirit of Scrooge has not penetrated the FBU. Happily the good work and community spirit of the local retained fire fighters meant that the show went on. If anyone doubts the PR value they are kidding themselves because a lot of the children I spoke to had been more fascinated by the fire fighters than by Father Christmas.