The Winter Watch: Chester, December 12th 2013
out of scale. Out of time, perhaps. And what followed - the Round Heads and the Cavaliers -
were out of time too. For the Winter Watch stems from medieval times (1400s) before there was any question of divine rights, or friendly men in red suits and children were too busy perhaps to spare much time for snowmen. The world was filled with strange, unknowable things back then, and in the Winter Watch Parade they come back to haunt us again. A Gothic band, for instance
and further on, at the top of Bridge Street, a man eating fire.
Sometimes it was hard to tell where the audience stopped and the parade began.
The parade marched down Bridge Street and then marched back up again. Had the keys of the city passed from the Watch to the Lord Mayor by then? Was the city safe? For this was the point of it all: a final tour to check the gates before Christmas. Once more around the walls to check all was well. And here comes a drummer
And here a ghostly angel and a knight in sharp focus
And here a procession of angels leading to the cross and the medieval church beyond. St Peters occupying the same site as it would have then, when the first keys were exchanged.
Behind the angels, a dragon looking for his knight.
And then the stars and moon: those, at least, are constant,
and sinister dark beasts - apparent only because of the light they stole before the band at the rear.
A dash up Northgate Street and there is a chance to see it all again, and catch up with the part we missed: the dragon's head
the snow queen
a conversation between some ice people and the master of ceremonies.
And here are Father Christmas and the snow man again, like two incongruous Christmas cake decorations brought out year after year, waiting while the rest of the parade pass into the Forum shopping centre
while the drummers play - loudly and ever more frantically
until, at last, the snowmen and Father Christmas are upended too. Into the box with the tinsel, the lights, the dragon-heads, stars, angels and drums. Ready for another year.