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Duncan Gibbons'S COLUMN View from the clock tower: Retailers turn up heat in Christmas custom battle.

Byline: Duncan Gibbons

THE sun was unusually hot for an early October day and I had just parted with 75p for a Strawberry Mivvi to cool me down.

Elsewhere, kids were running around in shorts and T-shirts as mums and dads browsed for late summer/early autumn garden bargains.

Still filled with all the joys of summer and recalling fondly a Club 18-30 holiday to Majorca in June, Christmas was the last thing on my mind.

Discarding the lollipop stick into the nearest bin - I decided not to keep the joke for my best friend's wedding speech - I waltzed into Rugby's Sainsbury's Homebase DIY store.

Now I know that some people seem to lose track of time, but had I really fast-forwarded two months in a split-second?

There I was in the middle of a Christmas wonderland.

Outside, the sun was still shining and the trees were still green. Gino the ice cream man was still doing a steady trade in 99s.

Tinsel, Santas and fake snow seemed totally out of place but there we were, having Christmas rammed down our throats even before we've had time to enjoy halloween or bonfire night.

It's a common complaint that the festive season is hijacked early each year by the High Street shops to get us to spend money unnecessarily.

Even St Andrew's parish church has got in on the act by allowing the Rugby Combined Charities Christmas Card Shop to start trading from its premises - although I admit that is for a good cause and doesn't line the pockets of retail fat-cats.

After all, if the shops are telling us it's Christmas, it must be Christmas. Get your skates on guys because there are only 66 days to go!

By the time December 25 comes, I'm totally fed up with the whole thing. The previous two months-worth of corporate gloss and tackiness means it has lost all its charm and magic and, to be honest, all I want to do is wring Santa's neck.

I mean, why not start selling Easter eggs in January? Oh, I forgot, they already do!

A PLAN to ban people drinking booze on the streets of Rugby town centre has been approved this week.

An exact date for the by-law to be enforced has yet to be announced.

On the surface it seems like a good idea. It can't be good for our image to see people necking cans and bottles among crowds of shoppers but I wonder how well it can be policed.

For it to work you'd expect a permanent police presence in the town centre but I don't think top brass have the resources to do that.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 20, 2001
Words:444
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