13 November 2010 (Saturday) - Rye Bonfire Parade

I’m going to start off today with a rant. I am sick and tired of people knocking the NHS. Take today’s news – one quarter of all cases of cancer are only diagnosed when the condition finally becomes so severe that the patients are so ill that they are admitted to hospital as an emergency. And this rate is far higher in leukaemia cases. Over half the brain tumours are found at such a late state. This is (apparently) shocking and disgusting and typical of the failing NHS. Or is it? Consider a specific form of cancer – skin cancer. Only 3% of skin cancers go undetected. Why is the NHS so better at detecting skin cancer as opposed to (say) tumours of the pancreas?
Do I really have to spell this out? Skin cancer gets detected early because people with this condition can see their skin going manky. It’s not so easy to see small lumps deep inside your body. Or take leukaemia (a condition with which I have a passing knowledge). This can only be diagnosed from a blood test – there are no lumps in leukaemia. Unless someone makes arrangements for their blood to be scrutinised, then it will go undetected until it is so far advanced that the lack of functioning white cells and platelets gives rise to the symptoms.

Aren’t we supposed to be in a time of austerity? Cutbacks all round? A mass physical screening of the population is going to cost a fortune. Whilst at college (in the early 1980s) I can remember being told of such a pilot scheme that was done in Orpington. Tremendous public expense, and no new cases of cancers found at all. And surely the general public must bear some of the blame. If they feel unwell, or have an odd lump, then they should go see the doctor, and not put it off whilst the lump gets bigger. Or am I missing something?

I went to work for the morning where I did a wonderful job which is utterly undervalued by the media (sulk, sulk!) and then popped in to the home brew shop to have a chat. They seemed to think that my plan to brew beer in closed containers is a winning scheme. I bought a hydrometer whilst I was there. It would be nice to know how strong the beer I’m brewing will be.

And then to the railway station to meet up with the Ashford based contingent of our party. “Daddies Little Angel TM’s mate was back from Italy, but we didn’t tell her that. Instead we arranged for Sofia to meet us at the railway station. We thought it might make a nice surprise for her. It did; she’s excitable at the best of times, but her squeals went supersonic.
Eventually everyone was together and I shepherded thirteen of us onto the train, and then we had a crafty half. I’d brought a back-pack full of beer, and it was rather heavy so I thought I might lighten the load. And with the first bottle drunk I could see the lights of Rye out of the train window. Having been emailing and messaging people about the event for a couple of weeks I thought I should take some responsibility. So I diligently ensured that all of the Ashfordians got to Rye. And with all thirteen of us on the platform of Rye station (and counted twice) my responsibilities were over.
Having checked out the pubs mid-week we then made our way to the Union Inn. Or that is some of us did. As is always the case, trying to organise people is somewhat akin to herding cats. And I must admit to wandering off myself when I saw the stall selling flashing rabbit ears. But the advance party of half a dozen of us found the pub and made a start on the ale, whilst the stragglers and chip-eaters eventually found us later.

After five pints we decided we ought to take up position to watch the procession come past. As fish and chips was passed round we met up with more of our group and exchanged insults. This year our group was perhaps the smallest it has ever been, with only twenty three of us. But we had a great time. It was at this point that we started making serious headway into the bottles of beer we’d brought along, but having drunk a gallon of ale from the pub meant we could use their facilities with a clear conscience. The best part of using their facilities was smuggling the ladies in our group into the cubicle in the pub’s gents to avoid the queue for the ladies. Great fun!

The procession came past – burning torches, everyone in costume, floats and noisy drum bands. I loved it. And then with the procession over, we made our way up to the Gun Gardens to watch the fireworks. We’d had discussions in the week about where would be the best place to watch the fireworks. The Gun Gardens had the advantage of height, but it was round the corner a bit from the actual bonfire site. Having said that, the bonfire site itself heaves with tens of thousands of people and is just a tad claustrophobic. In retrospect the Gun Garden isn’t the best place to watch the fireworks. Next year we’ll sort out somewhere else to watch them from.

And then we made our way back down the hill as fast as the crowds would allow us, and having said our goodbyes to friends who’d driven up from deepest Sussex, half a dozen (or so) of us made our way to the railway station. As is always the way at Rye, we’d managed to lose half the party on the way.
There was some minor unpleasantness whilst trying to get to the railway platform. The place was very crowded, but the police didn’t need to be quite so disagreeable. We’ve been going to Rye Bonfire Parade since 2004, and in those six years the only bad experiences I’ve had have been from the arrogant attitude of the police there. Would it have caused the silly constable physical pain to have given me a straight answer to a straight question? I am considering making a formal complaint about the attitude of the police at the station, but it wouldn’t achieve anything.
The train ride home was fun, and I passed round the remains of the bottle of port I’d bought, and we eventually staggered to be some time after midnight (I think – it was all rather vague by that time).
Same time next year… plans are already being made…


  1. I have looked at the photos and it looks like you had a brilliant night. I am glad that Donna & Lauren went along. They look like they had fun.

  2. We had a great night. To my mind the police were very agreeable. but then I tend to look at bonfire from the other end of the fuse.