I'm feeling a little fragile today, as I celebrated November 5th at my next door neighbours' house and whenever I go there, things always get out of hand. I don't know how much I had to drink, but at some point in the evening I became an expert on subjects as diverse as French history and Arcade Fire.
Luckily I think I got away with it.
Our party included a French woman and a Canadian girl who had never seen the famous Lewes bonfire procession before, so we tried to prepare them for some of the more bizarre aspects of the evening.
Last year my neighbour forgot to warn a visitor - a black South African - that the parade included some local people 'blacked-up' and dressed as Zulus. She said that it was a slightly uncomfortable moment, but luckily he was more bemused than horrified.
It's estimated that every November 5th, the town's population swells from 16,000 to 60,000, much to the annoyance of many locals. However, there is a quieter part of Lewes where the crowds are bearable.
Here's a short video that I took last night:
The next video, which I didn't take, gives a much better idea of the scale of the crowds and the wonderful sense of anarchy that pervades the town:
I think there was an attempt, a few years ago, to address the obvious health and safety issues, but officials gave up in despair. However, beyond the facade of chaos and pyromania, there are plenty of people on hand - from St John's Ambulance volunteers to plain-clothes police officers - to ensure that the public are safe.
According to the BBC, last night there were 15 arrests and 170 injuries, only two of which were serious (and not caused by fireworks).
Apparently it used to be a lot worse before the 1850s. I wonder why things changed?