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East Sussex Bonfire
Bonfire Season in East Sussex is brilliant. Simultaneously a much-revered tradition and a colourful riot of a celebration, it is centred on Bonfire Night - or "the Fifth" (November, of course) - in Lewes. The Season kicks off around the end of September, picking up from Autumn Carnivals, and finishes around the beginning of December, leaving the merest pause for breath before Christmas.
Bonfire does a very good job of taking the sting out of the onset of Winter, and even makes you look forward to dark evenings and cold nights. Especially the crisp, clear, windless sort that are just perfect for torchlit processions and firework displays..
A good friend once described Bonfire to me as "Big Boy's Christmas", and he definitely captured something of the essence there. But I'd have to add that I know plenty of "Bonfire Girls" who clearly get something out of Bonfire (!), and let's face it, little boys and girls are lucky enough to benefit from Bonfire and Christmas, courtesy especially of more family-orientated Bonfire Societies such as Barcombe and Neville (website yet to be found).
The smell of paraffin (torches), the whiff of gunpowder.. yes, it's going to be a fine night.
As you may have gathered by now, I'm a Bonfire Boy. Long way from being born and bred to the tradition, as I've been a member of Cliffe and Barcombe for under 10 years, and have only been settled in East Sussex since 1989. Mind you, that doesn't lessen my appreciation any, and the good thing is I can still - just - remember how Bonfire looks from the outside: a mix of equal parts chaotic fun and awesome spectacle tempered with a sense of foreboding and dark and fearful histories. The problem is that some people can find the "dark history" aspect inhibiting. It can be misinterpreted as an inherent nastiness, in which case it may not feel right to take part in and enjoy Bonfire. This applies, I think, even to many people who live in East Sussex, which is a shame.
Hence these pages. I'd quite like to share my personal take on Bonfire, explore what it's really all about, and show how it remains eternally relevant. I'd definitely like to dispel some preconceptions and replace them with an accurate and healthy appreciation.
Well, don't expect anything interesting too quickly - I'll start off with a humble list of links and take it from there. I had been hoping for something more substantial for Bonfire Season 2003, but didn't quite make it. So maybe next year. Or by the time I retire. Just possibly.
And in the meantime, check out the BBS pages, noting that we're very keen on getting into sponsorship and promotion this year..
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