Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bonfire Night Re-instated

The winter sun sets and the moon rises over Govan. There's a bite in the air as we head out through the streets to see what's goin down in the hood. At Orkney Street the firestation's lit up like a Christmas tree and the big doors are open, revealing firemen swaggering about, sorting all their equipment as they await the call to battle.
We walk briskly along paths, criss-crossing, once crowded with tenements, now lying quiet in the darkness. Brighton Street, Neptune Street, Briton Street, Dunsmuir Street, up and down we go, feeling the chill on our faces, twisting round to see rockets exploding high above us. We are passing new housing, building sites, old tenement buildings, Govan Bowling Club, a school ancient and a school modern, and ground laid to waste. Now on to the grassy field which once was the back courts of Burndyke Street and the Govan Press printing works and the Chinese Seamen's Mission.

Sparklers are twinkling in the darkness and now and again a ground-based firework fizzes up and fizzles out. A dad's voice comes over the backs of Southcroft Street, highly nervous and charged with fear. "Don't move wi' that. Don't go near that. Keep away. Keep back. What have I told you. Will ye keep that still. Do you not know how dangerous these things are!"
Down the field a bit, a firework goes zipping sidieways and slams bang into some kind of structure. What is that, we wonder?
And then another rocket goes off and throws a pyramid of wood into light relief. Yes, it's real. A bonfire of some magnitude, amazingly constructed in the last twelve hours by wood gathered from who knows where!
It's set alight and catches beautifully, golden flames sweeping up to lick the sky.
We chat with a couple of fellas about how the wee lads' wood got snatched away and how industrious they've been in building it back again over the last 12 hours. Resilient, no stopping them in the face of adversity.
His lordship's got his fancy camera at the ready. "Nice gear you got there mate," says one sly man on the fringes of the fire. But that's as far as it goes. Just snap away and feel the heat on your face and the chill of the night at your back.
Fires are greedy and this beauty is fed throughout the evening by a committed band of wee boys who come and go with planks and great big sheets of wood. Where's it coming from? Plantation maybe?
So, here you go, enjoy this pictorial record of the spirit of Govan. Unquenchable.

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