Bonfire is a long and popular tradition in Sussex. In Rye it plays a key role in the social life and identity of the town. It also makes an important economic contribution to the town – there will be no empty hotel rooms or B&Bs on November 8.
But Bonfire Night has plenty of critics, some genuinely concerned about the risks and noise, but others who are mere opportunists. This year the opportunists, or ‘enemies of Bonfire’, appear to include regional TV and radio.
Members of Sussex bonfire societies report having been called by someone called Tom Darby from BBC Radio Kent, “journalist, music lover and angry git” according to his Twitter account, who says he wants to talk about firework safety. Darby might indeed genuinely want to discuss the extensive risk management and public consultation requirements which bonfire organisers conduct each year. But, forgive the pun, bonfire societies claim to have been burnt before by talking to journalists. The BBC in particular, as one cynical bonfire boy put it, “has a bit of form on sensationalistic reporting”.
Following closely on the heels of the BBC is Meridian TV. It has been a bit more open about its interest and has been asking members of Sussex bonfire societies about the burning of the Pope!
See website for details of Rye’s Bonfire Night on November 8.
Richard Comotto is a member of a local bonfire society / Photo: Tony Nunn