#showertune: ‘fan the fire’ by earth, wind & fire

what’s & also up blog peeps (bleeps)

i trust you all had a worthy weekend. given the fact that i rarely do weekend posts, and the National Union of Bloggers went out on sympathy strike with the NUJ, there were no weekend posts this weekend. that means that i’ve yet to either ask you how your 5th of November celebrations went or tell you how mine were.

i hope you stood near a vast pyre, saw the face being burned off a suitably large effigy of that most hated of failed bombers and Catholic scoundrels, Guy Fawkes, and were amused and delighted by brief colours in the sky.

i, myself, don’t personally like fireworks. i find their fleetingness somewhat melancholic. partly for that reason and partly because it’s unbelievably awesome and happens nearby, i prefer to head for the East Devon village of Ottery St Mary to watch the near-400 year old annual ritual of the Running of the Barrels, so i did that.

the festival is a purification rite, similar to many that happen across Britain in late Autumn, designed to purge the village of evil spirits. it consists of 17 barrels being filled with tar, and one-by-one set alight outside the village’s pubs and then hoisted aloft on the shoulders of a man who then runs around carrying the flaming barrel, essentially pushing it into the faces of the thronging crowd. basically, it’s pretty much the most dangerous thing you can imagine could still legally happen in public.

the place is always packed out (this year there were an estimated 20,000 people crammed into the small village square and its narrow surrounding streets) which means essentially you are smooshed up against people on all sides, and, so, as a man carrying a massive barrel of fire on his back runs towards you, you basically have to hope that there is enough space created by the movement of the crowd to allow you get out of his way and not be hideously burned.

sometimes you can get trapped between the barrel and a wall, which is especially fun – that did not happen to me this year, but it has in the past.

also, sometimes people get hurt. last year some genius threw an aerosol can into one of the barrels, causing an explosion which hospitalised twelve people. still, this year, that didn’t happen, so that was good.

it’s the kind of thing that when you explain it to people who’ve never been they assume you’re exaggerating.


yeah, but there must be some sort of cordon around the barrel, right? nope. but, they don’t really get right up in people’s faces with a massive flaming barrel? yep. ok, but the men don’t really run with it do they? yep. right, but they run in a predictable way, right, i mean you know where they’re going? nope. OK, but it’s far safer than it sounds though, right? nope.


in tribute to and celebration of this most eccentric and brilliant of festivals that we at RQT hope continues for a long time to come, today’s #showertune is Fan The Fire by Earth, Wind & Fire

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  • Comments (4)
    • Drew
    • November 8th, 2010

    Pretty much had that identical conversation with a bunch of Londoners this weekend…

    • The DR of Magnificence
    • November 8th, 2010

    And you didn’t mention that some of the men are CHILDREN.

  1. Well, the children’s bit is separate, but yes.

    • kirkycheap
    • November 9th, 2010

    I was telling my boss all about this! Amaze.

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