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Bonfires burn all over the city ….

Posted on Sunday 5th November 2006 at 00:00
Ok so perhaps I lied a little earlier when I said I'd have around 4 hours of free time to fill this afternoon. Actually, that isn't quite true, as lying would suggest that I knew it not to be the case, which I didn't. The statement was however erroneous, as I discovered at 4:30, when, having just returned from my afternoon walk, I found a reminder from Outlook calendar on my screen informing me that I had around 25 minutes until I needed to be at Bristol Cathedral to set up the stage for the graduation ceremonies that are taking place all this month.

This is something I had completely forgotten, or rather not associated with today. It is lucky I spotted the message when I did, as any later and I would have been very late in getting there. I just had time to pull up several maps and information sites and eventually an aerial photograph of the Cathedral in order to work out where I could park before I had to set off.

I didn't exactly drive like a maniac down the motorway, but I sure as hell wasn't going to take my time about it. Sadly I developed a taste for urban racing while playing Need For Speed Underground 1 + 2 and so every time I enter the city at night I have to fight hard against the urge to floor it. Despite all this I reached the cathedral with seconds to spare and proceeded to bump into a couple of friends who were also working tonight.

We got to work pretty quickly and proceeded to spend the next 2 and a half hours pushing and pulling on trolleys, assembling scaffolding and manoeuvring the giant, heavy sections of stage into place. I've dismantled the stage on a number of occasions, but I've never had to build it up before and boy, is it hard work?! Once we'd finally got the structure in place and the guard rails up, we had nearly 130 chairs to wheel in, un-stack and set out on the stage. For what it was, the pay wasn't bad but I have a feeling the aching isn't going to go away for quite a few days yet. In spite of all the problems, and a trapped finger or two, it was surprisingly good fun, and very satisfying to see it all assembled at last. I have reason to suppose it shall be fairly soul destroying on Thursday night when we will have to take it all down again for the weekend, before repeating the whole process for the following week. The things we students do for money ....

As we left the cathedral, our nostrils were filled with the smell of smoke and gun powder. Yes, it seems even right in the middle of the city, there is enough going on on bonfire night for the smell to drift, aided I imagine by a thin bank of fog that was beginning to envelop the city, even as I walked back to my car. I was in the fortunate position of being within ear shot of the fireworks, while at the same time not being all that close to them. The effect was that rather than the usual ear splitting pops and whistles, all I heard was the distant, dull thumps of explosion. This made me think, not of Guy Fawkes, or anything so traditional, but more of WWII, when a similar, though much more deadly sound had been heard, night after night, as the bombs fell all over Bristol. It seems odd to me that I've never heard of anyone previously commenting on the obvious connection between the sounds of fireworks going off and the sound of bombs being dropped. In many way that would be far more relevant to most people, it being our more recent past. That said, I guess there is a certain novelty in being perhaps the only country in the world to hold a national celebration to remember the foiling of a small terrorist plot 400 years ago.

Going back briefly to my walk, which I believe I mentioned at the top of the post, today was the 7th day of my new exercise regime, and half way through the 2 week trial period. I've gone for a 30 minute walk every day for the last week now except Friday, when I was rather too busy to be able to spare the time. Fortunately, I'd already made plans for this eventuality, and so took an hour's walk on Saturday to make up for it. This was less fun than the 30 minutes, as I was not only more tired than normal, but also had to venture further away from home than I usually do, down the old railway cycle path; a place I don't fancy being during the hours of darkness, as was nearly the case by this point.

Luckily I made it home alive and well (aside from a twisted ankle) and am now ready to go to bed, as I have my first day in my new job as a bar maid tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

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