After a late tea with a friend in Soho, we decide to take a walk down Oxford Street. I’d not seen the Christmas lights since the big lighting ceremony, and it was a lovely night for a walk.
The friendly twinkle of the occasional icicle and orange glow of stonewalled Victorian row houses and pubs quickly give way to the wide, garish glory that is London’s main shopping artery.
Oxford Street has really done it this year. And I don’t mean in a good way.
“What is that elf doing with his hat?” I ask Sal and our Friend.
“Where?” Asks Friend.
Sal is distracted. “Shoes!” he points into a store. “Blue shoes!”
“There, next to the giant Marmite jar,” I point above our heads. “Is he…puking into his own hat?”
What does it all mean? We debate this for a few minutes. Another elf seems to have been consumed by the Marmite jar, his little elf legs kicking helplessly. A woman asks Sal to take a photo of her and her partner in front of the lights.
“Do you think they realise that’s a sick elf behind them?” I ask when they’re gone.
“It’s the only sign that says ‘Merry Christmas’,” Friend shrugs.
A few more blocks of strange Marmite-themed elves, tearing up (?crackers, ?pizza) blocks of something. Lights, more of them, but arranged without taste, or logic. Kind of just strung around. And the colours don’t work together – bright, blingy silver, framing brown cardboard signs recounting the 12 days of Christmas.
We pass John Lewis (thank God, some tasteful 3-d umbrellas and packages) and some decent big box store displays.
“I object to the number of window ads devoted to Christmas-themed lingerie in November,” says Friend.
“You’re just protesting because they’re all women,” Sal says.
“It’s not a gender thing, Sal. It’s still November. It’s not even Christmas yet and I’m already overwhelmed by all the Christmas-themed underwear.”
Suddenly we are standing under a HUGE Santa hat light display, with (I kid not) a video screen instead of a jolly Santa face. The sign under it says you can upload your own photo onto the Marmite website and they’ll display it. Sure enough, a kid’s face appears on the screen.
“What does this have to do with eating Marmite?” I’m puzzled.
“What are the chances you’d get to see your own face there?” says Friend, who is good at maths. “None,” she assures us.
Really, Marmite? Nobody understands you.