The Christmas lights have not yet appeared in Suttonford, but soon we will be pleasantly decorated in time for Santa’s arrival in the town. Basingstoke will also be ablaze, but in a more gaudy fashion. Here’s a tribute to a display in a former year.
O mega-town of Basingstoke,
how shrill we see you lie!
Above your phosphorescent glow
the silent stars go by.
Yet in your dark streets shineth
the Wondrous Light that draws some from the motorway,
yet fails to signpost Magi through your roundabouts’ array.
(Praise Him in the filament, anyway.)
In Toys R Us they’ll buy a Beanie Baby for the King;
from Mcdonald’s, a children’s meal
with a collectable key ring.
(Teletubbies are maybe not His sort of thing.)
Mary and Joseph, Rudolph and Pooh Bear
Watch o’er the child beloved and fair.
All is calm. Sleeping in heavenly rest.
Most take taxis to avoid the breath test.
Mixed iconography screams houses into shrines:
iced Yuletide logs in lurid neon signs.
What shall I give Him, poor as I am?-
I’ll nick a Safeway trolley and use it as a pram.
Blest be that apple near the wheelie bin-
someone’s Last Supper on the lawn close to us:
the turkey carcase an oblation for sin?
A Damien Hirst Pax Hominibus?
God rest ye merry, Basingstoke,
you’ve always got The Anvil,
but it’s closed on Xmas Day
when the kids can be a handful.
While housewives wash male socks by night,
men get their flexes convoluted
and for the love of flashing Bambis
prepare to be electrocuted.
Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus flashes green and then red.
The stars in the night sky have nothing on this-
Basingstoke’s Gloria in Excelsis.
- The Anvil is Basingtoke’s Theatre.
- Hartley, Harris , Manning: authors of above book.