The Christmas lights being switched on in the village is one of the Revolt’s favourite local events of the year. The lights themselves, let’s be honest, are not spectacular in anyway (though they are very respectable compared to others around and about) but it is the excitement surrounding their being switched on and the occasion it represents for everyone to gather together that is so great. And every year there is always something to talk about; three years ago there was some disappointment about the lights which had been put together at short notice by Skanska; and last year saw the first ‘Village Day’ and a new set of lights.
This year’s Village Day was even bigger, with a new ‘Local Stage’ set-up on Montpelier Green and a full day’s worth of entertainment on offer. There were morris men (the Dacre Morris Men to be precise), some excellent music including the Rock Choir and festive favourites from the Salvation Army, classic cars and mopeds, and a parade by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. Not to mention a winter wonderland at the Conservatoire and lantern making for the nippers plus all manner of music from Blackheath Halls. Amusingly, the Revolt found itself unwittingly at the head of the lantern procession down from the Halls through the village at one point – before pulling away and watching the climax from the comfort of Zero Degrees…
There was also an informative exhibition on 200 year’s of entertainment in Blackheath at the Bakehouse (behind Age Exchange). If it’s still on it’s well worth a visit to read about the rich history of social life in the village. Who knew, for example, that the Lloyds Bank building used once to be a public baths or that the Post Office building was once the best ice rink in the London?
Like last year, the village’s businesses are to be thanked for contributing their time and effort to make the day such as success – including the owner of Raffles who organised the fine display of vintage cars. It’s only fair to say we missed the mulled wine and mince pies that were on offer last year, but it was also far milder than last year so we just about survived without.
But, finally, to the biggest change this year compared to what has gone before. That being the location of the light switch on – the day’s highlight. Once again the actual switch on was ably handled by Nick Ferrari, with passing reference to health and safety concerns that had meant that lights could not be placed on nearby trees. But, Mr. Ferrari was not stood on the steps of shoe store Parés as he has in previous years but instead on the stage erected near the Clarendon Hotel. And this, in our view, is a change not for the better. The beauty of doing it from Parés was its location in the heart of the village meant one could see the full length of lights as they were switched on. From Montpelier Green (as this patch of grass is apparently known), and without the trees being lit, it all felt rather distant from the action – despite Mr Ferrari’s valiant efforts to get the assembled crowd to spin in unison at the end of the count-down to look at the lights on Montpelier Vale. In case you missed the Revolt captured the dramatic moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4KvS8jO2cw
As regular readers will know, the Revolt’s raison d’être really is to support progress and change in the village. But in this respect, while absolutely loving Village Day as a whole, we think the switch-on should revet back to the heart of the village.