SUNDAY’S attempt by council workers to put up a giant Christmas tree ended in a surprise win for the tall contestant wearing green.

Its victory, however, was short-lived.

At the rematch yesterday evening, the home side was prepared. Unlike the earlier occasion, when the Swindon crew had been led to expect a 40-foot tree but ended up with one nearly 10 feet taller, there were no nasty surprises.

On Sunday, that 10-foot height advantage led to the prepared Christmas tree base at the centre of the roundabout being damaged.

This made a tactical withdrawal the only safe option.

The move prompted grumbles and sneers from an array of arboricultural armchair generals across the town.

These cynics having talked their talk, last night belonged to the people who walk the walk, and they did so in weather cold enough to perish a penguin or worry a walrus.

The tree arrived on the back of a large flatbed truck, looking somewhat like one of those old Soviet cruise missiles seen on the backs of mobile launchers during Cold War era parades past the Kremlin. The tree base at the middle of the roundabout, originally designed for a smaller and lighter load, had been thoroughly modified since Sunday’s mishap, with extra ballast added in the form of two and a half tonnes of concrete and an adjustable aperture for the trunk.

As the tree was hooked up to a crane, the occasional wit in a passing car would shout something like: “Oi! Get it right this time!”

When the tree was lifted into place, though, and towered, magnificent, about 50 feet above the Magic Roundabout’s central island, those driving past began to cheer and sound their horns.

The work wasn’t finished, though, and the smell of sawdust wafted across the site as chainsaw-wielding workers fashioned wedges to help hold the tree upright.

Meanwhile, work began on securing the monster via six stainless steel cables to a ring of anchor points in the ground. This final touch was somehow reminiscent of the capture of King Kong, but the tree, unlike a 50-foot gorilla, should look wonderful with 5,000 fairy lights attached.

With luck, it’ll also be less likely to escape, climb the DMJ tower and end up having to be shot from its perch using biplanes.