Ringing in the New Year

In Weatherfield and in Walford, New Year’s Eve had already been marked this year on the television, two days before the actual day, with all of the usual false bonhomie that has come to mark the annual festivities which occur as we move from one point in time to another. 

On the taxi rank in Abingdon, it was a much more muted affair. Nothing was moving and as on any other weekend night these days, there were too many taxis, a number of which are only ever seen at this time of year, when there is the opportunity to make what is perceived to be easy money. We might see them again in three months' time at the next bank holiday, on 30 March.  

It was so quiet that I vacated my place way back in the queue of more than twenty-five taxis waiting for the exodus of people just after midnight, parked up elsewhere and took a walk around the town centre. There was an eerie quiet outside, while people were packed inside pubs and restaurants, also waiting for midnight. 

Shadows of bell ringers' ropes were visible through the west window of Saint Nicolas' Church, one of the few remaining buildings of the great Benedictine abbey of Saint Mary's. Things have never been the same in Abingdon since the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s. 

As midnight approached, the noise of a single bell tolling twelve times, accompanied by the now inevitable infernal crescendo of fireworks, almost drowning out the single bell. But there is something about the very essence of England herself inherent in the glorious sound of a ring of these bells in Abingdon, which have marked time for two hundred and seventy-six years. 

Thanks to the wonders of the modern technological age in which we live, my audio recording of the bells was edited and online within sixteen minutes. I was on my way by half past midnight to my first booking of 2018 – a short minimum fare £6.70 journey, for which the customer insisted on paying £25.  

The town centre businesses, including those of us who provide on demand and pre-booked transportation services, are largely interdependent.  It is in everybody’s interests that there is a thriving and vibrant town centre in Abingdon. 

So, the news in the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year that there is to be a temporary cinema in one of the few other surviving buildings of Abingdon Abbey nearby, at the Unicorn Theatre is an exciting and welcome development. 

However, there is no other way of booking other than to pay by card, including a £1.60 processing fee per transaction, "consideration processing credit and debit card payments". This puts the cost of a ticket up to £9.60 for a childless single person like me, whereas for a family of four, it is a much more equitable £8.40 per ticket.  And that is despite all charges for paying by credit or debit card being banned from 13 January 2018. 

As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 03 January 2018

  1. Abingdon Herald, Abingdon will finally get a cinema - for the winter at least, 29 December 2017
  2. The Unicorn Cinema, Terms and Conditions 8.3, 22 December 2017, as retrieved 02 Janaury 2018
  3. BBC, How will the card surcharge ban work in practice?, 19 July 2017, as retrieved 02 January 2018
  4. Abingdon Society of Bellringers, web site, Abingdon Bells, Church of St. Nicolas, as retrieved 02 January 2018