Last year Birmingham City Council held a Christmas lights ceremony that ended in what most called a ‘fiasco’. Our crap Altamont was down to nobody guessing that one of the biggest bands of the moment giving a free concert would be popular.
This year instead of a big fuss there will be a Christmas parade. In November. One month and ten days before Christmas, reindeer and whatnot will be kicking off our celebrations. With no pretence at trying to encompass other celebrations to draw out the shopping season, at least with ‘Winterval’ they were trying. Its an old rote that Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year but five weeks before Christmas is bordering on silly, seeing as most men are still be scurrying around in the dark on Christmas eve wondering if a bottle of screen wash is a suitable present for a ten year old. Granted, Jesus was probably born in April but lets try to stay within December eh?
The Thursday after we welcome the disruptive crapfest most call the ‘German market’ but the council insist calling the ‘Frankfurt Market’ because according to the website, ‘Birmingham has been twinned with Frankfurt for more than 40 years. But the connection is so tenuous you might as well say that Birmingham is twinned with Elvis, or Monster Munch or the colour blue.
Hordes of you are positively wetting themselves at the thought of spending four pounds for a hot dog, standing next to loudly taking suits getting even more unbearable because they cant handle the strong cloudy bitter larger, or pushing past idiot tourists blocking the pavement because they’re staring at the badly made wooden statues of frogs like it was a holy relic because it makes a frog sound when you rub its back.
Apparently there will be 180 stalls this year. The stalls will be a combination of; a woolly hat shop, foul tasting sweet stall, two bars, a candle stall, and a stall selling polished rocks 180 times.
The thing that bothers me is not our misplaced sense of pride in what is repeated in nearly every major city around Christmas throughout Europe. It’s that it is a simulacrum of a German market, a Disneyfied version of the very real markets of eastern Europe. Despite the tourists, the open market in Prague is a earthy authentic place, covered in stag piss, where dodgy looking men shout at each other, blacksmiths make jewellery in front of you with ferocious delicacy one minute and shoe a horse the next and where the food is cheap and good and warming, a place with heart and balls.
This is my proposal, in line with the councils desire to have a digital quarter. We scrap the German market and have a traditional Christmas Japanese market; dodgy electronics, improbably and baffling mobile phones, food stalls that sell noodles, raw fish, and bubble tea, and bars where men in business suits can drink sake until they call their bosses dishonourable dickheads.
And we can have it whenever we want, because most Japanese people couldn’t give two shits about Jesus, let alone his birthday.