Thursday, November 07, 2013

Lewes Bonfire 2013

It was my 12th Bonfire Night in Lewes. I felt unusually nervous about the event this year but, ultimately, it was memorable.  

Once again I processed as a Cluniac monk with the Southover Bonfire Society. 

I marched at the back of the monks' column, just in front of the brass band, which was excellent.

This year, so-called “rookies” – loud fire crackers used for scaring away birds in the fields – were falling far less frequently than usual which made a pleasant change.

The atmosphere was great!

I feel all should be welcome at Bonfire. It is a time and place where everyone should be able to be comfortable and get along. That’s part of what Bonfire’s about.

A great number of very happy people. 

My fellow monks were extremely friendly. Our ranks have certainly grown over the years and we are a jolly bunch of ancient religious.

Southover’s first parade was very poignant with a small boy reciting a remembrance poem at the main War Memorial in Lewes and other little children laying wreaths.

The march ended up at The Swan Inn where there was vinyl on the record deck and good food in the beer garden.

This year the Southover Bonfire Society led the Grand Procession of all the Lewes bonfire societies, I believe for the first time.   

As always it was a great experience marching down St Anne's Hill, the High Street and School Hill with the pavements brimming over with onlooker and well-wishers. 

It was not quite as boisterous as the two Bonfire Nights on Saturdays in past years (Bonfire Boys and Belles will not parade on the Lord’s Day). But there was still a lot of joy in the air and grins on the faces. 

The third march was the Procession of Remembrance to the Southover Memorial for the Last Post and two minutes' silence. 

I thought of those I have known who have died this year, particularly my beloved niece Emily, and, of course, those who have died in wars and other conflicts.

This year’s Southover theme was Bomber Command – a key part of the Second World War effort which was not honoured until recently and only then thanks to the sterling efforts of a Bee Gee.

It is an interesting historical chapter: how Bomber Command did dirty work for Churchill and were rewarded by being ignored post-war, rather like, decades on, the battered American soldiers returning from Vietnam. 

I was surprised to learn around 55,000 members of Bomber Command had died in the Second World War. 

It seemed a vast number of airmen to perish. Of course the horror hit ordinary people on both sides. 

Strangely enough, my late aunt Erica was a survivor of the bombing of Dresden, a teenager walking out of the firestorm city, tens of thousands of dead surrounding her. She lived on into her seventies but, I guess, never fully recovered from the Dresden ordeal. 

It is absolutely right that airmen of Bomber Command should be honoured for their courage; it should have happened last ago. 

We processed to the Southover fire site for a truly sublime fireworks display, followed by the home procession and midnight prayers outside the Kings Head - a good pub these days.

* It has been a strange week. The night before Bonfire I went to a work do in Parliament and bumped into the England Football Coach, Roy Hodgson, a very likeable chap. We met in the security area - he was on his way to a Football Association bash. 

It's great England made it through [to the World Cup Finals]," said I, stating the obvious like a typical journalist.Grinning like a Cheshire cat, Roy replied: "Yeah, that's the main fing." 

* For the two Saturdays before, I presented my usual shows for Rocket FM - Bonfire's radio station. My old friend, DJ E, came down from t'North to co-present the second one with me. 

He was brilliant! We have been DJ-ing together over a period of 33 years and it was a good, slick show. The best we have ever done. For anyone who's interested, here's the eclectic playlist that came out of our collaboration in a music-packed two hours:

Kiss – Tom Jones  

Pick Up The Pieces – Average White Band

Let Me Know – Roisin Murphy 

The Theme From S-Express – S-Express

My Black Wine – Benna McCartney

Doghouse – Johnson And The Believers

Nag, Nag, Nag – Cabaret Voltaire

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

Walk On The Wild Side – Lou Reed

Lady T – Crazy P

Sex Machine – James Brown

Simple Twist Of Fate – Bob Dylan

Yeah The Dum Dum – Splat

Teenage Dream – T.Rex

Playing Bogart – 23 Jewels

Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy – Queen

Death On Two Legs – Queen

I Know You Got Soul – Bobby Bird

The Only Way Is Up – Yazz

Temptation – Heaven 17

Crushed By The Wheels of Industry – Heaven 17

Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols

Rupert – The Alan Caddy Orchestra & Singers

The Pink Panther The Alan Caddy Orchestra & Singers

La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf

No More Heroes – The Stranglers

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