Not only that, but the High Street looked damn picturesque, with its old houses and cobbles. We were just in time to see someone let off a flight of Chinese lanterns, which drifted up into the sky. Yes, I know they're evil, but they looked pretty pretty.
Marvelling at the wonders of a rural night, I staggered down the high st, abandoning one of my former classmates to the terrors of the kebab shop, admiring the celestial display, and thinking vaguely that it hadn't been that dark last time I meandered drunk through Stroud, which was, er, about 15 years ago.
Then, halfway home, I realised I wasn't imagining it. They really had turned off the lights. It was just beautiful. And incredibly restful.
Next day I googled it. Cost-saving exercise. And man, that is the first time somebody did something to save money that was also good for my soul. I haven't seen my hometown looking so good in years. (Not just because I couldn't see it, cynics). It was easily light enough to walk, and oddly, felt safer than under the glow of unnatural yellow light. What cars I passed seemed to be going slower, which can only be a good thing.
Now, I'm well aware that the Council didn't do this for aesthetic reasons, however much I was enjoying it.They are broke. Several years of atrocious weather have cleaned them out. And then Mum went to Iceland. Ahem. But this set me thinking, what other cost-cutting measures could we make that would actually make ours lives better, instead of cutting people's pensions and services?
I've come up with three ideas, for a start:
- Stop subsidising airports with tax breaks and public transport links. Stop flights taking off or landing before 8am and after 10pm. That way, not only can we all see the stars, we can also go in and get a decent nights sleep.
- Reduce the number of BBC channels that run all night. Maybe leave one, for the shift workers and insomniacs. The rest can go off at 1am, and stay off till 6. They can spend the resulting savings on making a news service that isn't, frankly, an embarrassment.
- Remove the necessity of pubs and small events having to have entertainment licenses for music or performances. This would help our beleagured pubs, and allow charities and events to stage small gigs and events (say, less than 200 people) without entering into the labyrinthine world of licensing. Pubs would be livelier, events (and musicians) would flourish, and local councils would be spared the cost of the staff to deal with this.
Somebody make me the chancellor, please. I've got some cuts I'd like to make.