CHRISTMAS DREAM
20 DECEMBER 2005, BEECH CROFT ROAD, SUMMERTOWN, OXFORD, ENGLAND

DESCRIPTION

A COSY NEIGHBOURHOOD CHRISTMAS PARLOUR SCENE THE MIDDLE OF A RESIDENTIAL STREET IS OVERWHELMED BY REAL-LIFE TV CELEBRITY PRESENTER IN SPITE OF TELEVISION BEING BROKEN.


MATERIALS

TV CELEBRITY AND CAMERA CREW, DISCARDED FURNITURE AND CARPET, TOYS, OLD TELEVISION AND LAMP, MDF FIREPLACE SHAPE, PAINTING, BRIC-A-BRAC, MAGAZINES, ETC


BUDGET

0 POUNDS STERLING


CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE

1 NIGHT ACQUIRING AND TRANSPORTING DISCARDED FURNITURE, 3 HOURS SETUP


DESCRIPTION

Beech Croft roaders are now very accustomed to repurposing their street We all have lost much of the fear and trepidation that characterised the early ROAD WITCH TRIAL installations.

With this confidence comes the greater ease and enjoyment to be had when socialising with neighbours in a Roadwitched street.

On this occasion, a few days before Christmas, it's 'business as it oughta be' on Beech Croft Road. The spur for the gathering was a planned visit by So Television, a TV production company commissioned to produce The 5 O'Clock Show by ITV.

However, the director of the feature, Cathy Wigley, made an interesting and fundamentally important artistic decision which was unexpected and raised the piece to a whole different level. She decided to keep the presenter innocent of the room until it was set up, and chose to have him approach the piece in his car with a camera mounted on the car.

But of course, this program has nothing to do with rival BBC's Top Gear program. Apart from one totally unexpected (to me, that is) feature. It shares a celebrity presenter.

Nobody on Beech Croft Road was aware of this, including me. So when Richard Hammond approached the Christmas Lounge, he was genuinely surprised, and engaged with us as soon as his car pulled across the carpet.

Many of us will know of the strange atmospheric change that occurs in a room when a celebrated person enters into it. It's almost as if there's a warp in the Social-Space-Time Continuum.

Although Beech Croft Road boasts a number of celebrated persons in various disciplines as its residents, the sudden unexpected presence of a full-blown television celebrity still causes a notable warping in the Social-Space-Time Continuum. Children's faces are the first to register it. The willingness of in-the-know adults becomes a bit more fortified. A curious combination of dignity and foolishness suddenly hovers over the whole situation.

Ironically, I was utterly unaware of the celebrity aura surrounding Mr Hammond, not having seen Top Gear for nearly a decade and then only by way of accident or extreme lethargy. Instead, I was very refreshed that the presenter I had to deal with, unlike many others I've encountered or watched on TV, was very amiable, intelligent, and clearly not out to make fun of the ROAD WITCH TRIAL but to celebrate it.

My wife, Helen, had been bringing cups of tea and coffee out to people all morning, and so I took it upon myself to make a pot of tea for the older adults, which arrived just in time to give them a crucial boost of warmth and, simultaneously, being captured on camera by the film crew.

It was only after comparing notes with other residents and examining these photos that the real story of what happened on this day emerged. I was pleased that this particular chapter of THE ROAD WITCH TRIAL, inspired by the possibility of being captured on film, turned into a satisfying and unexpected 'piece' in and of itself, quite different from the previous Living Room that occured two years previous which involved no unexpected celebrity presence.

Thanks are due to everyone who was a part of this, the 11th ROAD WITCH TRIAL. But I'll reserve special praise for the cast and crew of So Television's 5 O'Clock Show, who could have easily dismissed THE ROAD WITCH TRIAL as a dangerous and ill-conceived bit of neighbourhood madness. They went the distance, overcoming their misgivings over re-invading a residential road and staying with the story.

The first few times Road-Witching are always the scariest. Until you become accustomed to seeing the magic work again and again, it seems impossible, even fool-hardy. But as many of you have come to realise, the greater foolishness is to tolerate the motorized madness that has now become 'Business As Usual' on our urban residential streets.

RICHARD HAMMOND'S 5 O'CLOCK SHOW AIRS EVERY WEEKDAY ON ITV AT THE EPONYMOUS TIME DURING JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2006. THE TIME AND DATE OF THE ROAD-WITCH TRIAL WILL BE POSTED ON THIS SITE WHEN IT IS KNOWN.

NEIGHBOURS ON BEECH CROFT ROAD ENJOY SOME OLD FASHIONED SOCIAL TIME TOGETHER. NOTE THAT THE TV IS OFF, NOT PLUGGED IN, HAS BEEN BROKEN FOR YEARS, AND IS NO LONGER COMPATIBLE WITH CONTEMPORARY UK BROADCAST PLATFORM.

RACHEL PREPARES THE HARMONIUM FOR SOME OLD-TIME HYMNS AND BALLADS WHILE HELEN MAKES SURE PANDORA IS COSY AND WARM...

...WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, WHO SHOULD UNEXPECTEDLY DRIVE THROUGH THE ROOM...

...TV PRESENTER, RICHARD HAMMOND, AND HIS CAMERA CREW!

DISORIENTED BY THE SUDDEN PRESENCE OF THE UNEXPECTED GENUINE TV CELEBRITY, CHILDREN BECOME EXCITED, BASHFUL, CONFUSED, GIDDY, AND SEEK AUTOGRAPHS.

ALL THE WHILE, THE CAMERA ROLLS AND A FURRY BOOM MIKE HOVERS ABOVE THE CHILDREN

NORMAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN ADULTS STOPS, AS THE GOOD-NATURED TV CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS EVERYONE EXTENSIVELY IN THE FREEZING COLD.

TELEVISION MAGICALLY COMES TO LIFE, COMPLETELY EXPLODING THIS PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS GATHERING, EVEN THOUGH THE TV IN THE ROOM HAS BEEN BROKEN FOR DECADES! A TRUE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.