A Saturday stroll took us past St Pauls Cathedral and the tent village. It is looking permanent and not too uncomfortable. Free books and beanbags to sit on beckoned. An upright piano on a pallet and under awning suggested dancing and carousing later. The plane tree in the middle was celebrating with banners, baby bootees and Bob the builder's hat. I have always loved planes for their elephant and moss mottling of trunks, peeling and sheding myriads of subtle colours, The leaves are soup plate size and the fruits are like christmas baubles. Catching the light against the blue sky, the tree looked as if it was celebrating a tibetan festival. But round the corner in Paternoster Square, the official christmas tree is having no such fun.
The barricades are up and covering every square inch where a man might lie down. The smart shops and offices round the square are open for business and Elizabeth Frink's good shepherd and four sheep stride towards St Pauls. But no-one else can. Metal meccano impassible and any with clever ideas will be dissuaded by the police in waiting van. And so the tree, grand, twinkling with a dressing of purple glass spun balls stands in a metal maze alone. No carol singer cand stand under it, no over-awed child reach up to touch, no weary shopper sit down by it or tourist pose beside for a photo. Pointless tree.