Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016 in fireworks

Battle Effigy stuffed with fireworks,  Morning of 5th November 2016

Brief history of the Battel Bonfire Boyes, the oldest of the Sussex firework societies:

This year's bonfire night celebrations also commemorated the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, fought upon this spot.

The legend on the effigy says:

1066 - BREXIT


I find myself thinking about Rudyard Kipling, a local to these parts. Most literary people tend to be Europhiles. Even Kipling was a Europhile now and then.

But he's also one of our few really great writers who would, I feel pretty certain, have been a Brexiter. And he, of them all, has some measure of insight and empathy with the values, utterly mysterious to most literary people, of "Middle England".

Since the self-sabotage of the Brexit vote, we cosmopolitan liberals have been rightly self-recriminating about our failure to be aware of or take seriously the concerns of dead-end shit-holes in post-industrial Wales and the North, and we talk about how we've been punished by a "working-class revolt".

It's salutary that this is being talked about, but the bulk of Brexit votes can't be accounted for as the howl of poverty in Caerphilly or Middlesborough. The bulk of Brexit votes were not a protest vote, but the settled opinion of Middle England. And this, too, is something we'll eventually need to try and understand.

A Norman Eurocrat faces Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn


‘We wasn’t throwin’ nothin’. We was cuttin’ out they soft alders, an’ haulin’ ’em up the bank ’fore they could back the waters on the wheat. Jim didn’t say much, ’less it was that he’d had a post-card from Mary’s Lunnon father, night before, sayin’ he was comin’ down that mornin’. Jim, he’d sweated all night, an’ he didn’t reckon hisself equal to the talkin’ an’ the swearin’ an’ the cryin’, an’ his mother blamin’ him afterwards on the slate. “It spiled my day to think of it,” he ses, when we was eatin’ our pieces. “So I’ve fair cried dunghill an’ run. Mother’ll have to tackle him by herself. I lay she won’t give him no hush-money,” he ses. “I lay he’ll be surprised by the time he’s done with her,” he ses. An’ that was e’en a’most all the talk we had concernin’ it. But he’s no bunger with the toppin’ axe.

‘The brook she’d crep’ up an’ up on us, an’ she kep’ creepin’ upon us till we was workin’ knee-deep in the shallers, cuttin’ an’ pookin’ an’ pullin’ what we could get to o’ the rubbish. There was a middlin’ lot comin’ down-stream, too—cattle-bars an’ hop-poles and odds-ends bats, all poltin’ down together; but they rooshed round the elber good shape by the time we’d backed out they drowned trees. Come four o’clock we reckoned we’d done a proper day’s work, an’ she’d take no harm if we left her. We couldn’t puddle about there in the dark an’ wet to no more advantage. Jim he was pourin’ the water out of his boots—no, I was doin’ that. Jim was kneelin’ to unlace his’n. “Damn it all, Jesse,” he ses, standin’ up; “the flood must be over my doorsteps at home, for here comes my old white-top bee-skep!”’

‘Yes. I allus heard he paints his bee-skeps,’ Jabez put in. ‘I dunno paint don’t tarrify bees more’n it keeps ’em dry.’

‘“I’ll have a pook at it,” he ses, an’ he pooks at it as it comes round the elber. The roosh nigh jerked the pooker out of his hand-grips, an’ he calls to me, an’ I come runnin’ barefoot. Then we pulled on the pooker, an’ it reared up on eend in the roosh, an’ we guessed what ’twas. ’Cardenly we pulled it in into a shaller, an’ it rolled a piece, an’ a great old stiff man’s arm nigh hit me in the face. Then we was sure. “’Tis a man,” ses Jim. But the face was all a mask. “I reckon it’s Mary’s Lunnon father,” he ses presently. “Lend me a match and I’ll make sure.” He never used baccy. We lit three matches one by another, well’s we could in the rain, an’ he cleaned off some o’ the slob with a tussick o’ grass. “Yes,” he ses. “It’s Mary’s Lunnon father. He won’t tarrify us no more. D’you want him, Jesse?” he ses.

“No,” I ses. “If this was Eastbourne beach like, he’d be half-a-crown apiece to us ’fore the coroner; but now we’d only lose a day havin’ to ’tend the inquest. I lay he fell into the brook.”

“I lay he did,” ses Jim. “I wonder if he saw mother.” He turns him over, an’ opens his coat and puts his fingers in the waistcoat pocket an’ starts laughin’. “He’s seen mother, right enough,” he ses. “An’ he’s got the best of her, too. She won’t be able to crow no more over me ’bout givin’ him money. I never give him more than a sovereign. She’s give him two!” an’ he trousers ’em, laughin’ all the time. “An’ now we’ll pook him back again, for I’ve done with him,” he ses.


(from "Friendly Brook", Rudyard Kipling, 1914)

Later the same day...

[Image source:]

Bonfire, Battle Market Place, 5th November 2016

[Image source:]

Saxon and Norman on roundabout in Battle, commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

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