To Battle last night to witness the Battle bonfire parade. Every teenager in Sussex seemed to be there, in various states of inebriation. We stood outside the Yesterday's World museum and got a pretty good view of proceedings. Our previous experience of the Sussex bonfire societies has been at Hastings and Rye and I hadn't realised that these are relatively sedate and peaceful compared with Battle, which I imagine is very similar to the famous Lewes event on November 5th - I've never had a chance to get to that one - not sure I want to now (someone was seriously injured there on Friday night).
I'm no fan of loud bangs and there were enough deafening explosions during the parade last night to give me a powerful impression of the Blitz in London - you could actually feel the percussive effect on your body, fortunately I had some earplugs - amazingly our son slept through the whole thing. The usually sedate town is an excellent place to see the parade as the streets are wide and there are plenty of places to get a good vantage point - the centre with the 'token' bonfire with a guy was a mob scene. Hastings Old Town is a bit too narrow and confined to get the full effect, I noticed this year that there were a lot fewer flaming brands than in previous years, not the case at Battle where they made an impressive display. The atmosphere of potential anarchy was exciting, but we went to the Senlac Inn by the station when the parade entered the battlefield (site of the 1066 encounter) as we had had enough explosions for one year - the display itself was remarkably muted. We made our way back past the cars abandoned by their owners when they realised that the road through Battle was closed for the night.
Author of Subterranean City, Beneath the Streets of London, London's Coffee Houses, Decadent London, The Folklore of London, Subterranean City (Revised and Expanded Edition), Netherwood, Last Resort of Aleister Crowley, Lord of Strange Deaths, the Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer; Secret Tunnels in England, Folklore and Fact