Posts Tagged ‘night’

Fire and Explosives

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Last night saw the skies of Manchester light up with the glow of fires and the flash of fireworks, followed by the gentle orange drift of explosives smoke. It was bonfire night (aka Guy Fawkes night) where people around the UK set things on fire and let off fireworks while standing in the rain drinking cider.  The origin of this event stems back to King James I surviving an attempt on his life by Guy Fawkes in 1605 (thank you, Wikipedia) and, for years afterwards, people have taken the opportunity to blow things up. I find this a little contradictory considering Guy tried to kill James with explosives and now children are blowing their hands off with rogue rockets and roman candles.

There were no bonfires within Manchester city centre as fires and enclosed city spaces are generally not a good combination. I headed to Cholton with fellow Australian, Eli, as all British nationals had declined to join us. We headed to the usually pleasant residential square of Cholton Green where we found hundreds of people squished together trying to buy hot cider and get the best position for the fireworks. We arrived just in time for the 9 o’clock display as fireworks were set off from what appeared to be the roof of the Horse & Jockey pub. Considering it was just a local fireworks display it was quite a pretty show and it received plenty of oohs and ahhs from the appreciative audience.

Ooh! Ahh!

Ooh! Ahh!

Eli and I went in search of a bonfire as what is bonfire night without a bonfire? We found a burning pile of wooden packing crates at the back of another pub. When the wind changed direction and picked up speed, the people standing on that side of the fire would get a burst of hot air, ash and smoke. Delightful.

Fire!

Fire!

Everyone was getting into the community spirit and there was a great positive energy permeating the crowd. I was happy with my first bon fire night experience and am now just waiting for the smoke smell to dissipate from my jacket.

The Oddity of Time

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I have fond memories of pointless, rambling, never-ending conversations in my university cultural studies classes where we would discuss a topic of grandiose proportions, ducking and diving between ideas, concepts and beliefs. I used to love these discussions because they would take up the entire two hour class and we wouldn’t really have to do anything. The topics would range from the meaning of life; the impact of gender; religion; whether or not nudity was bad… Strange things, really. One topic of discussion that was quite frequently raised was the concept of time and space, and over the last two days I have had moments of “Time is a weird thing.” Let’s discuss.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, France changed back into winter time. Before I went to sleep on Saturday night, I turned my clock back and instantly gained an hour! What surprised me was before I went to bed, I googled to see what time the the big all-knowing, official clock would actually change, and discovered that it depended entirely on what country I was in. There wasn’t a single hour where all clocks across Europe and America would shift. It was 3am for France and Germany but 1am for Greenland and some of Portugal. The rest of Portugal changed at 2am. Jordan changed their clocks last Friday. I then read a news article stating that Mr Cameron is contemplating setting Britain’s time to be the same as Central Europe. But England has Greenwich mean time! They can’t change! That would be weird because would Portugal and Spain change as well? How can humans fiddle with time so easily? I guess we invented the idea, so we can decide how it works.

We spent Sunday in a state similar to jet-lag. Now the sun is up at 7am (I could see where I was going this morning on my run) and it sets by 5.30pm. I wanted to eat dinner so much earlier than usual and I had to sit around and wait until it was an appropriate hour. By 4pm, it had started to get dark and I felt the urge to return home. Considering only a few weeks ago, we could sit outside in the sunshine until at least 8pm, this change is quite dramatic. My entire system is confused and I know it will take a few days to get back into a rhythm.

To push things even further, this time fluctuation has clearly played with my mind so much that not only did I gain an hour yesterday, but I appear to have gained a day today. I spent all of yesterday CERTAIN that it was the last day in October and that (Monday) would be the first day of November and I would therefore have to start writing my 50,000 words for Novel Writing Month. Not the case! The old 31st October has crept up on me and surprised me with ghouls and ghosts and pumpkins. Not that I mind. Any extra time is always welcome when long plane flights back to Perth are looming in the distance.

Lazy Laze

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

I don’t know what has happened to me. I used to be so disciplined with getting up at a decent hour in order to achieve things during the morning. This week I have woken up at 9.45am twice. TWICE. This is really unheard of. Even on mornings when I have set my alarm for 7.15am in order to get up for a run, I have rolled over and fallen asleep again. I probably shouldn’t be so anxious about this fact as I am still getting a lot done in the day – I just start later and finish later. Considering the sun doesn’t go down until 10.30pm, I have plenty of time to do things in the afternoon. I have just always been a morning person and now my mornings are only two hours long.

I suspect it will all change back to my normal working hours in winter when the set returns to a relatively normal pattern. There’s another reason to vote out daylight savings – I sleep in too long and stay up too late*. Terrible.

*Please note: This is sarcasm.

They Built This City on Rock and Roll and Jazz and Hip Hop and Techno…

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I love Paris. Sometimes it just really comes through and makes you realise how great a city it is. Yesterday was Fête de la Musique which is the one night of the year where the city fills with music on every corner of every street. At about 8pm, Tom and I headed towards the centre of the city and met up with Rom and Coup (who is sporting a new Swedish hair style and looking very snazzy) and we made our way aimlessly, following the sounds of instruments.

I have never seen anything like it before – bands were competing for sound space and sometimes if you stood in the right place you could have an indie band playing in one ear and a dj ‘mixing it up’ in the other. Thousands of people were out and about enjoying the free concerts and everyone was in great spirits. What particularly interested/amused/excited me was seeing such a wide variety of music being enjoyed by such a wide variety of people. At one stage we were standing outside a middle eastern restaurant listening to an elderly guy singing and playing a keyboard and creating amazing music (I think it was middle eastern of some description – not sure.) There was a huge group of people listening and dancing to the music and the crowd would have had a representative from every gender, age group, nationality possible. Further down the road and into a little side street we followed the sounds of electronic doosh-doosh music to find a white-masked dj playing from the window of a small clothing store with about 20 darkly-clad goths dancing wildly outside. That was just weird.

The potentially strangest moment of the night was our final music viewing. Things had started closing and we hadn’t seen any music for two street blocks but could hear something in the distance and walked towards it. As we turned the corner we saw a small stage set up next to a church where two guys were playing digeridoos to a crowd consisting of happy, drunk, young white folk; a hippy girl on roller skates; an asian guy on a fold up bicycle; children (it was midnight by this point); a punk; and all sorts of other ‘types’. The music wasn’t great but the crowd sure was enjoying it. I was enjoying watching the crowd and trying to work out how on earth this group of people could potentially have gathered in the same place at the same time and actually have something in common. It was brilliant.

Fete de la musique

He definitely wasn't Australian – A blurry photo but you get the idea

So a great night was had and not once did I see a drunken brawl or anyone doing anything even slightly stupid. If this had been in Perth, the riot police would have been in full patrol and everyone would have been strip searched and sent home to bed by 8pm. We bought pints of beer in plastic cups and walked through the streets past police officers who didn’t even look at us. It is technically illegal to drink in the streets but unless you’re drunk the police will overlook it. And it works.

Merci pour un bonne nuit, Paris.