Britain’s Maddest Event

Observatory

Lewes
‘Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we’ll say old Pope is dead.’
It’s almost time for the most bonkers event in the country…no, not the newly adopted US-style Hallowe’en but Guy Fawkes’ Night, and although there are no urchins on street corners shouting ‘Penny For The Guy!’ anymore (when did they stop?) it’s good to know that the town of Lewes in Sussex still blows itself up once a year with bonfire societies taking revenge against Catholics for the burning of 12 Protestant martyrs. Rivers and streets of fire are filled with revellers who look like extras from The Wicker Man in an explosive event that seemingly defies every known health & safety law, with the added thrill of being anti-Papist. I’m skipping kiddie-friendly Hallowe’en for a tradition that’s now in danger of being eclipsed…

3 comments on “Britain’s Maddest Event”

  1. Adam Siviter says:

    Always good fun down in Ottery St Mary – burning barrels carried down the high street on the backs of burly (and refreshed) Devonians – no crowd barriers either, so a random change in direction causes mass crowd movement. Add to that heaving pubs serving good beer, a huge (no barrier) bonfire and a rusty old ferris wheel and you’ve got a really great event. Get there soon, before health and safety neuter it!

  2. I.A.M. says:

    A friend of mine studying in the Penzance area visited Ottery St Mary one 5th Nov. He showed photos and video to me that I kept saying “but… but…” in reaction to. He repeatedly said “yes, I know! People could die! Isn’t it awesome?” Still the photos continued, at one point showing a flaming barrel-toting man headed straight at a group of revellers and a – probably listed – pub of wood construction. After 15 minutes of saying “but… but…” the final analysis was that this sort of thing must continue for two reasons: it’s damned good fun, and it reminded us that life is essentially ephemeral.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    And it would be a good idea to reject the North American Hallowe’en since it is dieing here and you could just skip the whole thing. Costumes are worn to the Mall (!) where the storekeepers give out certified safe candy (while supplies last) and big malls have indoor fireworks, thereby getting rid of any real connections with the past.

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