Monday, November 20, 2006

31. Streets of Fire: A Hymn to Lewes and the Bonfire Celebration by Andy Thomas

ISBN 1-85770-193-3 - S.B.Publications, 1999

I had the pleasure of meeting author Andy Thomas in the Rocket FM studio when he has interviewed along with Rocket Director General, also Andy Thomas by my husband Rupert Lloyd Thomas, pictured here.
Streets of Fire chronologically relates Lewes Bonfire of 1998 as the author's experience unfolds. I read this book both before and after my first Bonfire this year and can draw many parallels. Thomas, like myself, was raised a Catholic in Lewes and attended St. Pancras. We have both, in his words, "moved on". In the early years, anti-Catholic sentiments prevailed throughout Fifth of November commemorations of the Gunpowder Plot. Today, the only remnants of this are the "No Popery" banners and exploding effigy of Pope Paul V perpetuated by the Cliffe Bonfire Society.
Thomas reminisces about feasting on, "Jacket Potatoes, sausages and grated cheese ... the traditional Bonfire fare", (page 24) before bundling up to watch the Grand Procession march down the High Street. Thanks to the hospitality of my sister Helen, I was similarly fortified on the night.
If Lewes on Bonfire Night is the world's biggest party, the morning after is the world's biggest hang-over. You can scarcely believe that the surreal ecounters you had just hours before actually happened. "Returning to Lewes the morning after Bonfire is like trying to piece together the fragments of a lost dream", page 57.
In this book, Andy Thomas attempts the unobtainable - capturing the aura and magic of the celebration. Although he insightfully & creatively reconstructs the atmosphere in text and illustrations, the only way to get a real feel for Lewes Bonfire Celebrations is to experience it first hand.

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