Watching Father Christmas turn on the lights in Ambleside is a serious business. At one point I fear for our lives. Then I fear for our such utterly unglamorous deaths.
There is a woman, mid fiftiesish, one of those women who has probably always looked in her mid fifties from the moment she was born and she is worried, very worried about the ‘kiddies.’
It all started when we, being aimless agenda-less sheep not particularly wanting to go home, shuffled around Amblesides’ many bunting-clad attractions.
We harked at the waterfall trail, went for a walk along clearly designated tracks and ate more calories than we actually expended upon the walk in a very good vegetarian restaurant that we couldn’t strictly afford.
But we didn’t care!
The Lake District economy exists to cosset and pander you and make you feel you have been for a jolly good walk when all that has actually happened is that you have spent a large amount of money on unflattering primary coloured clothes that rustle then gone for an amble roughly as long as an Urban stroll between TK Maxx and Nandos in any city anywhere.
There are jolly looking ruddy people with walking poles in the town. There are no people walking in the surrounding fells. Well, not many, I did hear the occasional rustle though.
Anyway, we ambled, ate and spent our non-disposable income.
Then an event! People flock to line the street and as we are English, so do we.
Children smile, branded waterproof clothing blinds the eyes and the aesthetic sense but then the crime.
People move forwards in excitement at seeing the ‘procession’, the slowly moving chariot of ‘Father Christmas’ led by two dispirited reindeer, Father Christmas throwing ‘magic glitter’ to turn on the Christmas lights followed by a slight delay before the lights turn on.
But Middle-Aged Woman is Not Happy. We are. We smile and cheer because its Christmas! Sort of, not yet but it is certainly a festive occasion but Middle-Aged Woman is muttering darkly about people who might have not waited as long as we have, potentially ‘standing in front of the kiddies’.
Her frantic mutters get more and more anxious and threatening as the crowd politely builds, not in front of the kiddies. My child starts crying, not because he is also concerned about this ominous possibility but because he wants to ‘go to a shop.’ She swoops in, I begin to tell her why he is actually crying but her mind is made up. She isn’t listening, she has already identified the burning problem. My child is definitely crying because someone is standing in front of him. They aren’t but that is not the point. She has been waiting all night, possibly all year for such an occasion.
‘It’s a shame, such a shame’, she cries. ‘Poor little kiddies have been waiting so long for this.’
A young unthreatening couple in branded waterproofs stop just briefly in the crowd free road in front of us.
That is enough.
‘Sorry, sorry, you have to move, the kiddlies, the kiddies have been waiting for this for so long.’
She physically swoops them away back to the No-mans Land without such a clear vista of the dejected looking reindeer, camera’s jumping around their shocked expensively jacketed necks.
I suspect she may well be shaking and tonight she will not sleep well.