Phil Gillam: It really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas (oh yes it is!)
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
Although those words could so easily have come from the great Charles Dickens, they actually come from another - lesser-known - author, Roy L. Smith.
But having already mentioned Dickens, the man who kind of invented the Christmas we know today, let’s have a pearl of wisdom from him too. He said: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
Another gem that’s particularly pertinent to this time of year.
Yes, folks, the time has come to talk about the festive season.
No, it’s not too early.
It is upon us.
Believe me – it really is upon us! Just have a wander round town, if you don’t agree. The lights above your head and the music in the stores will settle the matter once and for all.
And that suits me just fine.
So with the sound of distant sleigh-bells in our ears, let us now welcome two decidedly Christmassy elements to Shrewsbury life.
First up: The first-class pantomime at Theatre Severn - this year Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I was lucky enough to catch the opening night performance last week and, once again, the Shrewsbury pantomime not only ticked all the boxes, but shone and sparkled throughout.
It’s got to be said: the supremely talented Brad Fitt is the ultimate pantomime dame; connecting with the audience with tremendous warmth and immaculate comic timing. I’ve seen the last three pantomimes at Theatre Severn and, in every one, this hilarious man has dazzled and enchanted.
Mind you - another special mention has to go to Matt Dallen who plays Muddles, the awkward, goofy best friend of Snow White. His natural comedic talents also brought a bucketful of laughs to this exuberant performance.
I also love the way in which the Theatre Severn show takes the mick (ever so gently) out of neighbouring towns including Market Drayton and Telford.
This is a proper family show that moves along at a fair pace.
And the whole thing is both outrageously silly (of course) and big-hearted.
Next up: The online video that promotes our fair town during the festive season.
Yes folks - a new Christmas film celebrating Shrewsbury’s seasonal magic has just been launched on YouTube.
The production from Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID) has been filmed in partnership with Shropshire media company 7video, and features local people and what they love most about Shrewsbury at this time of year.
Combining the modern and the traditional, the video is set to a gentle, specially-created soundtrack from local singer/songwriter Joe Seager, inspired by the welcoming and hospitable nature of his home town. The two-minute film follows the locals as they shop, eat and drink, and wander around their favourite places in Shrewsbury.
Richard Tisdale, a BBC producer and history blogger, appears with his scene-stealing son Hector, aged 20 months, to show what makes Shrewsbury special for them. The Playsted family take us to their favourite spots, while endearing couple Peter Bettis and Helen Rowlinson reveal their much-loved evening haunts.
Seb Slater, Executive Director of Shrewsbury BID, said: “This year our brief was to let local people tell their own story in their own way. We wanted the video to be an authentic reflection of what makes Shrewsbury special at Christmas. We very much hope everyone will not only enjoy the video but also recognise their favourite places and things to do here.”
“We would like to thank those who took part in the filming including our fantastic stars featured but also to the local businesses who gave their support during filming.”
The film is part of the wider ‘Be our guest’ seasonal campaign which has included the production of an Original Shrewsbury Gift Guide packed with products provided from over 130 local shops, already delivered to thousands of homes and businesses and being distributed to shoppers during late night and Saturday shopping.