Even though it was Chinese New Year proper last Monday, festivities happened all over again on the scale we have become accustomed to yesterday. It was bitterly cold with intermittent snow but even the drifts of white powdery ice crystals couldn't dim the gleeful strings of lanterns or the bangs as children and adults alike hurled handfuls of paper bangers on the ground.
There were foodstalls, performances, lion dances, lanterns and apple-cheeked revellers all over Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Gerard Street and a closed to traffic Shaftesbury Avenue, new for 2009. It was more spread out and perhaps because of the cold, less hectic and crowded than previous years - though Gerard Street was carefully policed to ensure the crowd went in one end and out the other to avoid unfortunate crushing. Queues went out of the door at most of the restaurants and hardier types strolled around chowing on takeaway boxes of noodles and rice, children chased each other around with paper dragons and adults dangled tasselled lanterns over their shoulders as the crowds circulated in upbeat swirls. Happy year of the Ox to London!