Bonfire Night 2010

Beech Village Fireworks 2010

An evening to remember

Having been invited from London to visit the Jayalaths in Beech for the weekend to attend the annual firework display, I had had no idea what to expect. The evening was nothing short of brilliant – the torches, the procession, the bonfire, the mulled wine and food, and obviously the fireworks themselves.

On arrival, the Green by the Village Hall was bustling with people congregated to buy their florescent ‘tickets’ and torches. And people of all ages too – toddlers, children, teenagers and adults alike. It seemed as if the entire village had gathered for the display.

As if by chain reaction the torches were lit, and soon they were all glimmering into life. Then a few of the torches moved away from the group and started down a small dark path. This was clearly a signal that it ’had begun’. People began to follow ‘the leaders’ and filed into a snake-like procession, torches held high, as we ambled down the moon-lit lane.

It was unbelievably filmic. Wherever I looked, forward or back, there were people sauntering along, faces half-illuminated, with dabs of orange light hovering above their heads in the dark.

At the end of the path the procession fanned out into a vast field, with a marquee on the left, and a huge bonfire, a colossal pile of wood with branches, logs and even a wooden door.

As if in a Pagan ritual, torches were thrown onto the now blazing bonfire; fuelling the furious flames that were licking higher and higher. Nearing the fire the heat became so intense that approaching it further soon became impossible – the incredible wave of warmth emanating as if from a furnace replacing the chill of the cold November evening.

I also found myself completely transfixed by the flames themselves. They rose up, shimmering fiercely, as if with a life of their own; a beautiful blend of orange, gold and red. It was no wonder to me, watching those flames, how fire has captivated Man since the beginning.

Even more entrancing were the ashes that rose independently from the fire, almost sparkling. There were hundreds of specks of golden light, dancing with each other locked in an almost magnetic embrace.

What drew my attention away from this marvel was the mouth-watering aroma of delicious food. Under the marquee, burgers and hot dogs were being served, as well as delicious mulled wine for the adults. We welcomed the warmth that they brought.

Then the first firework was lit, flying into the air with a whizz, and simultaneously, all heads turned; all voices hushed. Next there was a splash of colour – yellows, greens, reds – on the big black backdrop of the night sky. Fireworks rocketed up in all directions, exploding with great booms of light.

Then there was a pause; followed by a myriad of perfect patterns painted on the dark canvas. Each one expanded like rapidly blooming flowers, or swirled round in a scintillating spiral, before fading into the shadows of the night.

When the display paused momentarily, the audience was silent, in awe of the past few minutes and in anticipation of the next. Sure enough it wasn’t long before the display resumed. Now the only sounds uttered by the audience were occasional “Ooh”s and “Aahs”s and loud applause when a particularly impressive explosion merited their audible approval.

The fireworks didn’t only provide a show of light, but also music to our ears. With high-pitched hisses, mid-ranged bangs, and low satisfying booms that made the ground vibrate beneath our feet; all orchestrated to create clever rhythmic melodies.

Sam Keen

Eventually the display drew to a close with a fabulous finale and I turned to see only the smouldering remains of the bonfire.

So it was an amazing evening, organised to perfection. It was filled with touching symbolism, and I sensed deep-rooted tradition that will hopefully continue for many years to come, and of course, great fireworks. It was truly an evening to remember; and if invited I will definitely be coming next year!

By Sam Keen (15)
Photos by Ben Keen and Alison O’Reilly