Bromley's 'Cock And Balls' Christmas Lights And Other Phallic Urban Legends

Bromley's 'Cock And Balls' Christmas Lights And Other Phallic Urban Legends

“Deck the halls with neon todgers, fa-la-la-la-laaaaa-la-la-la-la” as, we hope, no one has ever sung in Bromley ever. Thing is, Twitter was aflutter with images (like the one above) depicting the London Borough of Bromley’s supposed Christmas lights effort in 2015. The images show rows of lights along a dark street in the shape of a candle, two baubles and some seasonal greenery, or — as every filthy mind everywhere sees it —  a cock and balls with a verdant wisp of pubic hair.

At least 11 people on Twitter made different versions of the Bromley Christmas lights being a bit of a ‘cock up’ joke as they circulated the image. Internet flotsam gatherer Quirker and the Ipswich Independent News forum shared Bromley’s blushes.

But wait. Twitter's @scunnerred has been thrown into some seasonal penis existentialism:

@tattooed_mummy was more robust, tutting:

And verily, Christmas comes with an abundance of cock-lights with the same old chaps supposedly popping up in Heswall, Middlesborough, Greenhithe, Dover and Kenova in West Virginia. There are even the same ‘cock up’ jokes attached.

Truly these are well-travelled tally-whackers (yes, we are running out of knob-based alliteration). No wonder then that when approached by those truth-seekers at the News Shopper, Bromley council could confidently proclaim that “there won’t be any embarrassed faces in Bromley” and even got a plug in: “but why not come along on 29 November to the lights switch on and find out for yourself?” So it’s OK — Bromley’s lights are not erected yet.

Inspiration for this wandering story may have come from 2012 when it appeared that Brighton’s Christmas lights were genuinely and phallic-ly subverted.

This, of course, is not the first time that London has witnessed apparitions of luminous penises. Dare to type ‘Westminster Bridge penis’ as a Google image search and there is a panoply of the things appearing in rows along the bridge. These are created when the noon or afternoon sun shines through the club-shaped balustrades on the bridge edge, elongating them. We've seen them, and they really do exist.

So this never happened

As for 'Christmas lights in London have crossed the line', urban legends, there have been plenty of previous happenings. December 2010 saw the story of a sacked Santa at Harrods taking whisky-sodden vengeance on the posh store. He barricaded himself into the ‘maintenance control room’ to change the store's festive lights into a tall and glowing invitation to... well, see the image above.

"Honestly, I am disgusted," said Irene Rider, 59, from Gary, Indiana at the time, "I was with my grandchildren. We had just gotten off the bus. I said 'look everybody' and pointed up to the lights — but you know what the lights said? They said f**k off. And that is not an appropriate message for a child. At least not at Christmas time."

If Indiana’s Irene's strange quotes haven’t tipped people off, then a trip to the urban legend site for grown-ups Snopes will sternly inform those wishing sweary embarrassment upon the former House of Al Fayed that this legend is totally made up. The offending image is Photoshopped. The story merely demonstrates our love of swearing and our desire to see the high and mighty dragged down by belligerent cunning.

Stories of this sort of revenge take us back to the Devils of Cornhill, placed on 54-55 Cornhill when neighbouring St Peter’s church spotted their extension encroaching onto church land. The legend goes that, like a drunken Santa without a job at Christmas, the builder or architect of 54-55 re-designed the building away from church land but, as revenge, placed terrifying terracotta demons overlooking the church. We made a video about it.

Last Updated 22 November 2017

Mark Webster

Cock the balls with howls of 'jolly'?