Monday, February 19, 2007

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

The year of the pig is officially here :-)

Thousands of Londoners gathered in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square to watch the parade and lion and dragon dancing, followed by fireworks in Leicester Square. The parade was good, but felt too short and rushed. It could be that we were in the wrong place - close to Trafalgar Square - whereas the parade finished at the other end of Chinatown. I'm guessing the performers were in a hurry to get to the end, so they could start coming back again towards the square for the main celebrations. I'm pretty sure this is the first time it's been like this - previously the parade started in Chinatown and finished near the square. Doing it the other way round was a bit of a silly idea, if you ask me. Chinatown was a chocker and could do without the lion dances at every corner causing gridlock after gridlock. I hope the Mayor's taking note!

Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the parade, but it wasn't as lavish or as long as we'd expected and we were left feeling cheated. After it finished we hang around for a while, hoping there was more, but no luck. We then wandered over to Trafalgar Square to watch the opening ceremony. Various presidents, mayors, ambassadors and MPs spoke to a rather disinterested audience. Thankfully, their speeches were mostly short and sweet. Even so, we got bored and restless before any of the performances started, so we left Trafalgar Square in search of sustenance in Chinatown. Boy were we in good company! The world and his dog clearly had had the same brainwave as us at the exact same time. Actually, that's not fair on dogs, as we didn't actually see many (any?). What we saw is pushchairs, buggies and prams. Lots of pushchairs, buggies and prams. As if bodies alone (and lion dances every second corner) weren't enough.

At least we found a stall that could provide us with a decent meal of noodles, spring roll, satay chicken etc. for a modest £4 (6 € for those of you in euro-land). We didn't even have to queue, possibly because most of the people around at the time were taking photos of the nearest lion performance. Thank God for small mercies....

Once we'd finished eating, we pushed and shoved our way to Leicester Square in time for the 2 PM firework display. This wasn't the kind of firework display you get on Guy Fawkes, it was more like a display of VERY loud firecrackers. Suitably deafened, after the end of the display we split up. Some of us went home, others stayed on in town. I decided I couldn't face the crowds at Trafalgar Square again, and headed for Oxford Street instead. Once I'd cleared the mass of people stretching as far out as Piccadilly Circus, it became obvious this was the best idea I'd had all day. Oxford Street was practically empty. There was none of the usual congestion on the pavements, no queuing at the tills, no struggling to find a shop assistant to help you. With such auspicious conditions, it'd be wrong not to take full advantage of the opportunity for a little retail therapy. Let's say, ahem, that I did my bit for the economy ;-)

After all, the year of the pig is supposed to bring good fortune and prosperity. What's the point in waiting?


Marg, the Sal. said...

Sounds like a great time!

ShadowFalcon said...

I love London's festivities. We had a great weekend abour town. Gald you did to :-)

Loops said...

I agree - the parade was pretty poor. The dancers weren't given enough time to dance - the police and organisers were moving them on far too quickly. Hopefully next year will be better!
Oxford St was definitely the better option!