Menu

Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Gaudy is Good

Time seems to fly by so quickly; it doesn’t seem long ago at all that it was warm and sunny: or even, come to think about it, that it was all that long ago that I took the photo above. In truth, it was almost two whole years ago; the year that Jo and I were married and when we returned to Scotland for Christmas a few weeks after returning from our honeymoon. We spent a lot of time in the U.K. in the second half of 2007 and, as is usually the case these days, I tried to photograph everyday scenes as often as I could.

The photo above is of a typical scene one sees in December in the U.K.: houses in complete contrast to the restrained static white fairy lights which prevail here in Switzerland, gardens and houses decked out in everything from illuminated religious figures to the occcasional sleigh and reindeer “landing” on the roof. In a funny way, I’m drawn to scenes like this, as they are the scenes which mean Christmas to me more than the tasteful variation at home. Local houses here, bedecked with subdued tastefulness, are beautiful, there’s no question of that. The plastic gaudiness which this photo so prominently shows is one which makes me feel more Christmassy though; I have a penchant for tat and over-the-top kitsch and it’s only common sense, an understanding of my lack of self-control and a desire to preserve my sanity and my wife which stops me from embracing it more fully.

I live vicariously through other families with less restraint though and it always makes me a little gleeful when we pass through chav estates, to see the horrors which they are inflicting on their neighbours, the number of decorations which they can pack into and around their homes, and the sheer level of blinking colour which can line whole streets for the few weeks at the end of the year.