I’m not sure if it is the weekends or the working week that is getting quicker. Which ever it is I know that the year is flying over and that Christmas is fact approaching. When I think about it, it is just  5 blogs to Christmas. With that in mind here is what has happened or been on my mind in the last seven days.

At this time of year it is very difficult to avoid Christmas. All the shops are decorated, Christmas music is playing everywhere, coffee shops have their Christmas drinks, and of course there are the many Christmas TV adverts. Now usually I don’t get too bothered about adverts, the exception being the Christmas Coca Cola advert ‘Holidays are coming’. According to one of my friends this is compulsory to watch otherwise it is not officially Christmas, I better keep my eyes peeled then. This year there is a new advert which that is challenging to be my favourite Christmas advert. When I saw it made me go “awwww how cute”. The advert in question is the new John Lewis advert. Now I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it but I will say that it is very cute and the boy in it is just like how I was/actually still am at Christmas. Those who seem to dislike the advert mainly have an issue with the music which is a cover of the The Smiths hit ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’.  I also think that it should have been the original version but it still creates that warming Christmas feeling inside you (well it does for me anyway) and that’s the real enjoyment of it.

This week the local council announced its proposals to cut their budget for next year. The proposals will affect everyone in the town. The cuts that stood out for me were the closure of the Arts Centre and the closure of a smaller library in the town. Now I know these are not seen as the most devastating of the announcements and I know there are even harder cuts suggested. But these stand out for me on a personal level. As I work in a library I always find it sad that any library has to close. The main library in the centre of town is safe but the smaller library they have announced is a big part of that local community and if it goes ahead will be a serious blow to that community. Why does this affect me? Well when I think about it libraries have always been a part of my life. I  remember my first to the town library with my Nanna. We went after school and remember joining and getting a copy of the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and buying a library rubber. It sounds so simple but it is one of my happiest memories as a child. This love of libraries followed me to secondary school where I was school librarian. I even got a summer job at my local library while waiting for my A-Level results. At the time I was set on a career in the media and I though it was just a nice job. While there I remember a colleague saying to me “that once you have worked in a library you will go back to working in a library”, it was as if she could sniff out the potential of a library assistant in me. I just laughed it off and kept thinking of working for the BBC. The next year I got another summer job at the local library but this time at the smaller library (which is the one that has been ear marked for closure). This was a lovely library to work in and you felt such a big part of the community. Twelve years on and now look at me, not at the BBC but I am working in a library and I enjoying it (just proves librarians are always right). This is all because of my local library and its effect it has had on me in my life and I am sure I am not the only person who has had this experience. By taking away any library you are denying future generations of this experience. I know there is a possibility of the library being run by the local community and I am not against this totally, however if this is to be the case you will need people who have experience in libraries to be involved in the set up. A library is not just some books on some shelves. It is a place of reflection and discovery and these qualities will need to be at the heart of any community library plan.

The plans to close the existing Arts Centre building are also a major blow to the town, although the council say it will create a new Arts Centre which will be more central. I hope they do keep some form of Arts Centre and one that allows local people to get into the arts whether that is through visiting galleries or by displaying in galleries.  The reason why this announcement sticks out to me on a personal level is because while at Sixth Form the building the Art Centre is in was where I went on free periods to study or catch up with friends. It was a great place and is highly valued by students in the town. More recently though when I went to see a comedy night there I ended up on stage with the comedian. This was actually good fun and I think my friends are still laughing now. I also know people who have had the opportunity of displaying their work in the gallery. I suppose what I am trying to say is that different people get different things from this service and it will be a loss to the town. If a new form of Arts Centre is created then I hope it has some of the ideals that the existing one does.

I would like to say that these proposed cuts are the last but I fear they won’t be. I don’t blame the council for making them as they have no choice due to the cuts in funding by the Government. All we can do as members of the public is to keep using services to prove they are still needed and valued. If you care about the arts then the best way to support them is by using them. The next ten years are going to be big years for sport in this country with the Olympics, Rugby World Cup Final and the Commonwealth Games all taking place in the country. It is great to have these events but I hope the arts don’t suffer because of them. The two can run side by side. So join your local library, visit local galleries and museums, join art work shops, buy books from local authors when they are doing book signings, go to the theatre, basically get involved with local art and culture – choose art!

On the subject of local art projects. This week saw the return of the Lumiere light festival in Durham. It first came to the city two years ago and was fantastic,  with the main attraction being ‘Crown of Light’ which saw images from the Lindisfarne Gospels projected onto Durham Cathedral. This exhibit has  returned this year along with 34 other exhibits throughout the city. The highlights for me were of course ‘Crown of Light’, ‘Helvetictoc’ by Tobie Langel which displayed the time by saying ‘It’s almost five past seven’, ‘I Love Durham’ by Jacques Rival which saw the statue of the Marquess of Londonderry turned into a giant snow globe, ‘Splash’ by Peter Lewis which saw a waterfall being created from Kingsgate Bridge and finally by favourite was ‘Spirit’ by Compagnie Carabosse which included floating vests in the Cathedral and a garden of fire in the cloisters and at the back of the Cathedral.

The event has proved very popular maybe too popular as on some nights there has been major overcrowding although when I went on Friday it wasn’t too bad. What this proves is that people will go to see art. The Turner Prize which is currently on at  the Baltic Art Gallery in Gateshead has proved very popular and seen record attendances for the gallery. Just proving that people do value the arts.

Visiting the Lumiere festival allowed me to have some time for myself. Despite large crowds I did enjoy just wandering around discovering the various exhibits/displays. I have mentioned quite a lot recently that I am feeling tired and ready for a break but I haven’t done anything about it yet. Why is it I find it hard to put myself  first. I always seem to be worried that I will let someone down instead of realising that I need some time for myself as well. Hopefully next week I will try to find some time for me. I’ll see how it goes.

The good news this week is that I have finally found some dark purple and dark red chinos that actually fit me. It turns out that Burtons online sell straight leg chinos in fashionable colours. This has made me a very happy man.

Wow that was quite an epic blog. I hope you enjoyed it so until next week bye for now.

Top TV programme of the week : The Choir: Military Wives

Top song of the week: The Smiths – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Book I am currently reading: The Sound of Music by Maria Von Trapp