Give us light and a morale boost over the winter

The uplifting power of light at Inverness Castle. Picture: Inverness Courier
by Colin Campbell

IT looks being a long grind of a winter ahead. That’s not just my downbeat view, everyone seems to be less than optimistic about the prospects for buoyant morale in the months ahead. It’s never the cheeriest part of the year but this time there’s this damn virus overhanging the darkness and the glaur. Santa in a face mask will probably be the highlight for December.

So anything which brightens the city up should be welcomed. And if it costs a bit of money, that could be money very well spent.

Gerry Reynolds and the events team at Highland Council have come up with what they’re calling a “Riverlights” programme which would see “eyecatching light shows and projections mounted at city buildings and locations”.

That could involve Inverness Castle, Abertaff House, Inverness Town House, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, the Northern Meeting Park, and Eden Court Theatre.

Councillors have been asked to back £140,000 from Inverness Common Good Fund being spent on funding this, and the money is available because the usual winter festival, ranging from bonfire night and the Ness Islands Halloween parade to the Hogmanay party at the Northern Meeting Park has been wiped out by the virus threat.

Now they want more information on specifically what’s involved. That may be understandable but if the funding for it is already there this is no time for them to play Scrooge.

This doesn’t look like some wasteful arty farty plan which would burn up money for no good reason.

It would be cheerfully uplifting to see buildings like the castle and the cathedral illuminated through the winter gloom.

And don’t underestimate the power of light.

Plans to illuminate the Ness Bridge were initially viewed with scepticism but who could deny what a vividly spectacular success that’s been.

What used to be a dark slab of concrete now stands out as a constantly changing lights show which has completely transformed the riverscape. It would be penny pinching curmudgeon indeed who would say that’s been a waste of money and the bridge should revert to being, from a distance, a semi visible slab of darkness.

When normal service is resumed the winter festival of events can be held again. But for now it’s gone and any bright idea to brighten up the city centre deserves to supported.

The battle against the virus, which seems such a very long way from being over, has been likened to a wartime situation. That comparison is over the top – but we’re certainly not in the Blitz when it was illegal to light a candle in the street.

Over the months ahead we’ll need every beacon of hope and cheer we can get.

And there’s absolutely no doubt that a lights show across the city could play a big part – with a psychologically important role – in boosting morale and giving people hope that there really could be light at the end of what seems a uniquely long and dark tunnel.

The Riverlights plan fits the bill. Once they’ve got the details they’re seeking councillors should see the light and give it the go ahead.


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