Tuesday, 06 October 2015

The Phantom of the Fairy Lights

Like the stirring build up in “Phantom”, the hairs on the back of your neck begin to stand up - The tension builds as you reach for the switch and pass the electric-trickery to the carefully arranged array of Christmas lights...“Perhaps we may scare away the ghosts of so many years ago, with a little illumination... Gentlemen?” - Or Not.

Many households have taken to this challenge in recent years, with some local displays now rivalling the Blackpool Illuminations. Here at DumbWitness Towers, we join in this annual homage to everything Sir Thomas Edison worked so hard for. The two younger inhabitants of this abode love to see the house transformed into what is an overly luminescent representation of the spinning electricity meter.

Every year they look forward to the great event, Every year they are disappointed.

It’s not that I don’t try. I may as well open accounts at shops such as “Mrs. Christmas” (which incidentally appears on our high street somewhat earlier every year). I’ve also noticed that this year the sign outside says “Mrs. Christmas Mrs. Christmas” – so good they named it twice!
Not that I have any issue with the quality of merchandise offered by “Mrs. Christmas” and the like. It’s something more sinister.

It’s either the Ghost of Christmas Past or the Phantom of the Fairy Lights. I don’t believe it’s just me that suffers, I’ve heard of others, but I think I am truly cursed.

Allow me to enlighten (no pun intended).

Many homes exhibit the now common “Icicle Lights”. An array of lights that don’t look like icicles. But they twinkle and look nice as they swing violently in the December gales from your gutter. Now I am not normally one to brag, but I was the first. I had these festive delights before anybody had even dreamt of them. Imported. Just for me. People came to see and I could hear them “Ooh” and “Ahh” through the double glazed windows. Children’s faces looked on in wonder as though our humble abode belonged to Willy Wonka.

They lasted one Christmas. The next year, carefully unpacked from the attic, they refused  to even flicker. Binned.

Then there was the "8 foot Inflatable Snow Globe”. An electric inflated glowing ball full of (un)realistic polystyrene snow, complete with internal lifelike (if this were Disneyland) Santa and helpers.

This was a real crowd-pleaser. This one ticked all the boxes. If I’d put a collection tin out, people would have put coins in it. Once again, following its debut it was carefully packed away on the Twelfth night. Not in the attic this time (manhole way too small for this monstrosity). So away to the shed with it.
The next year, out it came and the two YoungWitness brothers waited patiently while it was unpacked and re-assembled in the front garden. The moment of “power-up” will never leave me – a blizzard of polystyrene snow filled both our and the neighbours gardens in seconds. The ball only half inflated in a pathetic limp shape that seemed to symbolise all of my festive efforts. Now this one had a more explicable end – it had been home to a family of mice in the shed. It would seem they had lived the life of Riley in the shed during the cold winter, snuggling in the faux-snow and gnawing holes in the fabric. There were tears.

I knew it was the mice, but they were under the command of the Phantom I’m sure.


“The Paraplegic Dancing 3D reindeer?” - I’ll spare you the story, but again, it didn’t live beyond its first birthday. Binned.
“The Colour-Changing Snow-Balls?” - Colour changing from pink to pink, through shades of pink after the first year. Binned.
“The 7-foot tall Fibre-Optic Tree?” - The one that refused to stay upright despite being bolted to the wall with fixings normally reserved for prison gates. Binned.

Thanks to the adverse weather, this year’s electric light show has yet to be commenced. The big thaw is now upon us. Everyone is finally warming up. I am starting to shiver.
I will endeavour to update you, but I fear that the Phantom has something bigger lined up for me this year, so feel free to come and see my efforts as I lay motionless, electrocuted in the front garden. Maybe my good lady wife will finish it off and put a few lights on me?

By Darren McSweeney
Published: December 10, 2010


Have your say

Very funny Darren well done I don't think there is anyone that doesn't hold their breath before plugging the dreaded lights in.

Posted by Ann coles on 19 December 2010 at 17:55

is the ghost of council cut backs wwwwwoooo

Posted by steven clifford on 11 December 2010 at 20:37

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