Yet stands the clock at ten to three?

Ipswich born and bred, Lynne Mortimer enjoys the run-up to Christmas in her home town.

What carol is heard in the desert?

Thanks to St Mary le Tower’s Christmas tree festival I can tell you it is O Camel Ye Faithful.

St Mary le Tower is Ipswich’s civic church and it was a wondrous sight last week when it was home to 79 trees, sponsored by individual families, local companies, organisations, charities, children’s groups etc.

Thousands of lights festooned the branches, real, fake and artistically representational. Many of the decorations were hand-crafted – there were at least two trees with origami trimmings. One tree sub-titled Knitted Christmas, was decked with baubles hand-knitted by members of one family.


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The Ipswich Town Football Club tree was a very modern cone of green encircled by a lighted tube.

There were estate agents’ trees, solicitors’ trees, children’s nursery trees, schools’ trees, other churches; trees. There were visiting trees from Woodbridge Antiques Centre and Felixstowe’s Gas Shop, plus Coes’ cut-out tree. The Broomhill Pool Trust had a tree. But for me, the Goodwyn Family’s Tree-hee-hee joke tree was a triumph. They provided the joke above and also revealed who delivers presents to baby sharks... Santa Jaws.

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The event, now ended, is an annual fundraiser for a number of charities and it was a peaceful retreat on the first frantic shopping days of December.

But while Ipswich is buzzing – the flower stall on the market was doing a roaring trade in potted hyacincths – for non-watch wearers whose mobile phones are out of battery, it isn’t always easy to check how long you’ve got until your car park ticket runs out or goes over the hour. There used to be lots of clocks to check but County Hall no longer tells the time, nor does the clock on the corner of Tavern Street and Upper Brook Street (used to be Ipswich Building Society). The clock on the old Croydon’s building has stopped. You have to get to the Buttermarket before you can see the time, and that clock is on the skew-whiff. Yes, it’s deliberately set at an angle but my head isn’t.

We went over to Notcutts at Woodbridge at the weekend. See, I do get out. It’s very Christmassy and I have to thank Jenne on the lights for talking me through and explaining why some sets of 200 bulbs are attached to a big fat flex and others have thinner cord. I declare her the fount of all Christmas lighting knowledge.

Meanwhile, a note to the Ipswich Scouts. I put my large stash of locally-destined Christmas cards in the post box at Waitrose, together with a �10 note. They were all in a bag but I didn’t seal it. So, if you found a roaming bank note at the bottom of the box, it goes with the pile of cards (with apologies to Waitrose) in the M&S carrier bag.

• Apologies also to poet Rupert Brooke for the misquote in the headline

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