I like to think of Bonfire Night as a marmite holiday; lots of people love it, will even class it as their favourite British holiday, and lots of people hate it, they don’t see the enjoyment of the brief yet loud display of lights in the night air or really understand what we’re celebrating, to begin with. Although perhaps even those people who do love it don’t even know why either. Personally, I classify myself as a lover of Bonfire Night, although Christmas wins my top spot hands down.
Ever since I was very young, I and my family would attend the Bonfire Night hosted at my school. A family friend would host a party beforehand and so I’d run around with my friends in their garden with sparklers – which were expressly forbidden on the school ground – until it was time to walk down in the dark to the school field.
There you would find a vast array of stalls selling sweets, tables packed with styrofoam cups filled with steaming hot chocolates, and a crowd made up of people you knew, people you could chat to without any playground fears. As I got older I often found myself ordering a cheeky takeaway and sneaking off with my friends to devour it in our common room – it was always unlocked and mildly less cold than outside, you can’t blame us! But no matter how old I was, we’d all be sure to head back outside for the spectacle of the evening: the fireworks. Our headmaster took pride in lighting them himself; you could just about make him out in the distance, wearing his signature pair of shorts in the freezing cold whilst running manically between the fireworks rammed haphazardously in the ground.
It’s strange, I never really liked the fireworks. Don’t get me wrong they’re lovely to look at and some make quite adorable fizzing sounds, but after a while, my neck would start to ache and the buzz would wear off. Similarly, the bonfire itself wasn’t a great interest, just a fenced off fire whose warmth just about stretched far enough to warm your hands. I guess it was the routine of it, the yearly excuse to bundle myself up and act like a child again. It’s very nostalgic to me and it’s nice to now experience it new places, with new people. So although this video is not the highest quality and not the most narratively interesting, I hope you get a sense of that warmth which Bonfire Night means to me.