Wednesday, November 6
There was a very strange atmosphere at the bonfire last night, so we all left early. This has always been such a friendly village with many families that have been here for generations, but yesterday I recognised hardly anyone.
We arrived at 6.30 so we wouldn’t miss the food and found there was already a crowd waiting for their share. It was good, tasty meat, though yet again we missed bread to go with it. And we were all standing around on the green and eating when we noticed a large group with burning flares coming along the road towards us. That’s never happened in these parts before, though I know some Sussex villages have a tradition of torch lit processions.
And as they came closer we could hear chanting, which we couldn’t make out at first. They were mostly young men, in their teens maybe or a little older, and they were shouting, “Light, light, light, bring back the light.” They marched right through the crowd standing on the green, pushing past older people and children regardless, then circled round the great bonfire, still chanting. Then finally, one of them held his torch up high and shouted, “Bring us light” and at that point they all thrust their torches into the bonfire and it burst into flame. They stood back for a moment then they all cried out, “The light is here” and began to dance wildly around the heap.
I remember looking at Martin and he had his worried expression on and both the girls were holding onto each other and Stephen. We didn’t know any of these people. I’m not sure they were even from the village. Then Martin bent down to me and whispered that we should make a move, so we all slipped to the back of the crowd and left. It was very unsettling and we walked back along the dark lane in silence until we were nearly home.