Christmas is coming ... and once again Londoners are filling the city's streets, stores and?
Christmas is coming ... and once again Londoners are filling the city's streets, stores and post offices in the rush to prepare for the festive season. But this year, the atmosphere is subtly different.
The recent spate of bombings in central London has produced strict security measures in public places: stores, cinemas, theatres, hotels, public houses and bars, post offices and railway stations. An air of caution pervades establishments of all kinds within the city centre ... mixed with a certain degree of apprehension. But Londoners seem to take the situation in their stride, as they continue to shop and celebrate as the holiday approaches.
Traders' fears that this year's Christmas sales would be hard hit by the economic gloom have yet to be fulfilled. Reports indicate that, as early as October, luxury goods, wines and spirits were selling as well as they ever did. And although display lighting is now restricted in daytime hours, the larger department stores have spared little expense in producing their traditional Christmas displays and seasonal fairs.
The Post Office has taken on 120,000 extra staff throughout the country to cope with the swell in mail volume over the Christmas season. Last year's efforts showed that Christmas mail could be delivered on time, and Post Office authorities are out to prove that they can do it again, despite an estimated 800 million letters and cards and 13 million parcels.
At the same time, precautions have been taken in central London to avoid a repetition of recent post-box bombings. Post-box mouths in central London have been sealed off, and extra security measures are in practice within sorting offices to detect letter bombs and explosive parcels.
In central railway stations, automatic luggage lockers are sealed off ... and at Waterloo Station, the traditional Christmas tree this year ???ears a new message: Please no parcels below the tree.
All the same, it takes more than bomb threats and forecasts of economic doom to prevent Londoners from enjoying Christmas in their usual ???ay.