Today is the last day of Bath's annual 'Christmas Market', wherein tons of appalling rubbish is sold to coach loads of Welsh women who clog the area around Bath Abbey like arterial fat, and I'm sorry to be so curmudgeonly, but I will not be sorry to see it go.
In theory, I love Christmas markets, but this event is more to do with Bath City Council lining it's already bulging pockets so that they can afford to erect more street cameras and traffic lights in inappropriate places, than it is to do with entering into the spirit of things during the festive season.
The councilor who is in charge of the whole corporate jamboree was on national radio last week, and he responded to the accusation that the market took vital business away from local traders by allowing complete outsiders to sell to complete outsiders - (you have to book these stalls about a year in advance, and the biggest costs around £8000 for two weeks) whilst local traders who pay the council massive rents and rates can only look on in horror - by saying that it did not affect the businesses in the newly built 'Southgate' complex in the slightest. He also said that the market attracts 200 coachers per day whilst it runs. The Southgate complex is so desolate and windswept, that it has been nick-named 'Gotham City' by a few local wags.
This shows how completely out of touch with the wishes of his own townsfolk - who he is supposed to be representing and protecting - he actually is. The Southgate complex was built at huge expense, and the only businesses that can afford to operate there are the very large, national and multi national ones - the ones which Bath City Council are doing their best to keep sweet for the sake of the revenue they generate for the Chamber of Commerce and it's offshoots.
The ancient family departmental store, 'Jolly's' which is right in the middle of what used to be Bath's prime shopping street may not survive another year, because Debenham's have been allowed to move into Southgate, and the first thing you see when you get off a bus or train at Bath Spa Station is the Southgate shopping precinct, and for many people, a 400 yard walk further into the old town is simply not necessary. Debenham's also have an outlet in the little sea port of Weymouth, and you can see that one from about 2 miles away - I have never seen a bigger store anywhere, even in the USA.
I already mentioned that a friend of mine lost his very good restaurant recently because his outgoings were £18,000 per month. It did not matter how many people came to eat his excellent food (the place was always packed) he would never be able to cover costs. Guess who moved in to take his place and sell distinctly mediocre food at inflated prices in an atmosphere stripped of all the original ambience which had taken years to build up? The restaurant chain, 'Cote'.
In a way, my German dentist friend may be lucky. Not only does he live in Bremerhaven, which has been voted Germany's ugliest town (unfair), but a national newspaper - Der Bild - has voted Bremerhaven's Christmas Market the saddest in all Germany.
In Germany, what we call 'German Markets' are called 'European Markets'. Not for much longer, I fear.