Thursday, November 12, 2009

Switch-on day

A rotten rainy day today, windy but oddly warm for mid November. Mid afternoon the Cairngorm reindeer arrived in their special truck. Due to changes in vehicle access to the pedestrian area, it came in via Wharton Street, and then turned around outside the House of Frazer's loading bay, well, almost outside the coffee shop, where it was so narrow that the lorry seemed to stretch from one side of the street to the other. Despite the tight squeeze, the manoeuvre was highly successful, completed without wrecking the dustbin by the churchyard garden steps, or external chairs and tables belonging to Costa Coffee.

I was delighted to see a diminutive young Scottish lassie step down from the driver's cab after this tour de force. Large vehicles have demolished four lamp posts in the centre over the past few months, manoeuvering in much larger spaces than the width of Trinity Street. I'm pretty confident those drivers were not women. There's a certain breed of trucker that doesn't seem to take that much pride in their work, sad to say.

The reindeer, six of them, including a couple of 6 month old creatures, spent an hour in the churchyard getting over their journey, before being taken down into Hills Street, where a huge igloo shaped tent had been erected to house them, and allow families to walk through and view them out of the rain.

Outside Royal Arcade, a small stage had been erected once more. X Factor finalist Lucie Jones came down from London to do a surprise gig and interviews there this morning. There was an excellent bebop quartet playing there to a tiny rain swept audience when I visited them after seeing the reindeer out of the churchyard. I met portrait photographer Ben Green on the street, whose photographs of 'characters' from the streets of Cardiff and Tiblisi were exhibited at Milgi's in City Road when we went there for a meal back in August. He's asked if he can photograph me for his collection. Heavens, does that mean I look like a Cardiff 'character'?

Apparently, over on the east side of the shopping centre tonight, there was a polar bear on view. As it was really such a wet night, I took myself home after meeting Ben, and gave the rest of the switch-on festivities a miss, rather than get any wetter.

During the evening, the St John's ringers successfully executed a quarter peal to mark the Christmas lights switch-on and the celebrate the end of the redevelopment work. To the public the bells ringing on a Thursday practice night are a familiar background sound. I wonder if anyone out there realised it was different this week, without the usual start stop rhythm of rehearsal going on?

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