Just pretend they aren't there

Christmas season is still two full months away, right? Yes, but you might think otherwise if you'd just arrived in St. Austell on England's Cornish coast. It's already festooned with $18,800 worth of holiday lights. Most communities display their Christmas decorations with pride. They're bright and cheery, and people enjoy seeing them. They also tend to help inspire gift-buyers to spend money. In St. Austell, however, they are an embarrassment, especially since summer officially ended less than a week ago. One griper told journalists that the fact that they're up so early "makes [us] look like a laughingstock." Oh, there are extenuating circumstances. That many lights take up a lot of storage space, and only one building in town had enough. But it's about to be torn down. The chamber of commerce asked for offers of substitute space. There were none, which left two options: sacrifice the bulbs to the wrecker's ball or display them now. As for the chamber, its chairman is – um – nonplussed at the fuss. There are, he said, "more important things in the world to worry about." Advising the critics to chill out, he added: "The lights are not doing anyone any harm. [They] won't be turned on until the end of November."

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