When I was a child we always looked forward to that day when mum would collect us from school and say those wonderful words “we are going to see the Christmas lights today”
My older sister and I would become so excited, it was a whole event. We’d have a quick snack and off we’d go to catch the bus to the west end.
My mum was a lady that always sat downstairs on the bus which meant I had to sit downstairs to, but this was the only time of the year that mum would venture upstairs, this made the whole experience even better for me, not so much for my sister she was allowed to go upstairs all the time.
It’s really odd thinking back because those were the days of the old route masters when the driver was just that and a conductor would walk up and down the bus with his/her metal ticket machine held around the neck with a multi coloured and often striped strap. They’d wear a smart jacket, trouser, white shirt, tie and black hat/ flat cap kind of in the vein of the police hats today. Also in those days you could smoke upstairs on the bus another reason my mum hated it up there.
We’d talk, tell jokes, laugh, it was so much fun considering it was just a bus ride into town, and normally we’d be crying mummy are we there yet? Mummy I need a wee! You know the usual, but on this occasion we where model children no complains from us.
Then the moment would arrive we’d be at the top of Whitehall with the bus turning near Admiralty arch (the entrance to the mall) circling Trafalgar square and there we’d see our first glimpse of the festive season the Norwegian Christmas tree towering high over the square almost rivalling the various status.
After the excitement of the Christmas tree the anticipation of the lights would become unbearable, at which point of course there would always be a traffic jam! But when you’d see the illuminated adverts of Piccadilly Circus we’d know in one short second the bus would turn and we’d get our first view of that years Christmas lights.
They never disappointed, always beautiful, always breath taking, always oooh and ahhh worthy. We’d stay on the bus all the way down Regent Street and then Oxford Street taking in every inch of the illuminations.
After viewing the light we’d go over to Selfridge’s department store or Hamley’s toy shop to visit father Christmases Grotto where mum would treat us each to a toy or a bubble bath set or something special and girlie.
It was one of those magical traditions that I’m sure had my mother and sister been alive today we’d still do it, ok maybe not the visit to Santa’s grotto but the lights for sure and I’d like to think maybe a bit a Christmas shopping would be thrown in too.
Anyhow I decided that this year would be the year I’d take khai to see the lights, well he’s seen them every year but this year would be an event, the start of our tradition, together.
We started by walking around parliament, portcullis house and viewing the London eye from Westminster bridge.
Then we jumped onto another bus down to Regents and Oxford street to view the lights “look Khai”, I smiled “look at the beautiful lights” “ it’s a star mummy” he said back to me with a smile.
We got off the bus at Oxford street the plan to walk back to Hamley’s so a certain someone could get a small toy, turning onto Regents street I said “look khai isn’t it amazing, Arthur Christmas you know that film “, Khai’s response “mummy, I want to go home” “what” I said “I want to go home mummy” and so we did that was the end of our west end lights event, so home we went.
It seems that Khai is still as yet a little too young to appreciate the gloriousness or the lights however I hope that maybe next year the magic of the lights will cast their spell on my little one has they did me all those years ago.
But if for some reason they don’t we always have the lights that can be found a few doors down on our street, which for some reason to Khai are the best thing since sliced bread. He runs down our road every evening after school to see this house and its lights he screams wow, and yeah and tells me how beautiful the lights are and informs me of all the colours and shapes he can see.
Looks like the west end has nothing on our street!