Friday, 6 November 2009
'The Lord of Misrule'
There are very few occasions when I find myself lost for words to describe something, but Lewes Bonfire night is one of those occasions. In my limited life experience I have never seen anything like it.
There is a carnival atmosphere, a strange primeval, latent pyromania. The sight of crosses burning and torches being carried by row upon row of marching people is reminiscent of a 'Witch hunt' or 'The Ku-Klux-Klan'. It is exciting, creepy, exhilarating, scary, and on one occasion I picked up a burning torch that had been thrown to the ground in a desire to be part of this fire crazed parade. I was quickly shouted at to 'PUT THAT DOWN' from one of the marchers who unbelievably seemed to have some kind of chaotic organisation in order to avoid accidents. He then marched on with his comrades lighting bangers and firecrackers and throwing them on the road to resemble the sounds of bombs, grenades and gun fire. Following each group of marchers were people pulling metal trolleys full of discarded burning torches. It was a truly amazing sight.
This parade started at about seven o'clock and finally finished about 2.30 am this morning.
There are six or seven different bonfire societies in Lewes and they all had their own firework displays, and these were absolutely spectacular. The sky was lit up with thousands of stars and comets in blue, gold, red, green and silver. Also the downs were vibrating with deafening booms like maroons.
Having written the above I am still at a loss for words to describe this event. But the best I can come up with is that for one night only Lewes is taken by a kind of 'Madness'.