Saturday, November 27, 2010

Southover Bonfire Society 2010

Another year, another memorable Lewes Bonfire celebration!

My old friend Melanie Knight, who grew up in Lewes in the 1970s and early 1980s, emailed me while I was doing my Rocket FM show to say that the bonfire societies used to blow up controversial figures such as Margaret Thatcher, but she guessed it was not allowed any more!

I am not so sure. Some of this year's effigies seemed more extreme than ever!

There was the disgraceful business of a Lewes bonfire society (not Southover, I stress) blowing up an effigy of the judge who rightly jailed the firework factory owner and his son who were found to be "grossly negligent" in relation to the disaster in which two firefighters died.

I was shocked to read about that. The society involved was even claiming that there had been a miscarriage of justice, and the factory owner and his son should go free (although its chairman later apologised and an investigation has been launched within that society).

I would certainly not have been very happy if I'd been a member of that society.

Fortunately, I am in Southover - and the Southover Bonfire Society's celebration were very enjoyable. It was an excellent night.

I was slightly puzzled as to why the current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, was chosen as the subject for an effigy.

Although a Roman Catholic, I was not offended.

But it was hard to see how the current Pope could be regarded as an "enemy of bonfire". He is never down the King's Head causing trouble!

It was easier to understand why a journalist, who had suggested that Lewes was an intolerant place, had been chosen, although no doubt he had been only expressing what he felt at that moment, rather like the tableaux makers.

Lewes is a peaceful and pleasant place to live, and the steam that Lewesians let off on the Fifth is undoubtedly part of the reason for that.

So, provided the tableaux are not totally crass and insensitive (such as the one by Firle Bonfire Society a few years back or this year's judge one), it is probably best not to take the tabs too seriously.

I think what is great about Bonfire is the spirit of comaraderie between the people involved and the people watching, and its rememblance of those lost.

Anyway, here are some pictures from Southover's celebrations this year (with some of the Cliffe marching through my manor!)

I feel our little part of Lewes can feel proud of its Bonfire Society and the way it marched on The Fifth 2010.

Advance, Southover!

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