We Won’t Be Druv

Remember, remember!

As if we could ever forget the path across the downs, past white wooden windmills and sunken ponds, through flocks of sheep and deep chalk scars, the sea only ever just behind.

Or the feeling as the castle rises, golden-lit above swathes of carpeted green, the illusory stillness giving way to a hubbub of anticipation as we draw near.

Five of us, this time. A certain camaraderie, as old as the hills and as fresh as the chill in the woodsmoke-heavy sky. We pick up a bottle of whisky and a bar of chocolate as we wind our way through Tudor streets, spying smugglers in their singed and striped jerseys.

Remember, remember!

As if we could ever forget the chill of a churchyard wall, seeping through blankets and jackets and jeans, briefly dulled by the peat-burn of scotch before returning with a vengeance.

We huddle, more primal by the moment, territorial pride driving out our desire to retreat.

The crowd presses in around our feet, stomping and shouting as the hour draws nigh. Were I amongst them, I would feel a sharp thrill of panic as they move en mass. Here, however, amongst graves and stately yews, I am untouchable.

Remember, remember!

As if we could ever forget how quickly anticipation turns to exuberance, the rolling of distant drums and the first firecracker flinches.

Or the proud pioneers, flaming torches brandished overhead, followed by an ever more surreal cast of characters. Warriors, cardinals, suffragettes, a bishop with a lizard’s tail trailing beneath his robes – all dreamscape bringers of light and darkness and revelry.

Or the noise, the noise, the noise that drives out thought and fear alike.

This town is more than just the antiques and tearooms of its daytime facade. Tonight we fall between the cracks, see the same streets but different, a world that was there all along if only we chose to look deeper:

To look upon the demons and the demonstrations, the drums and the dreams, the drams and the drama, and know the black and burning heart of Sussex.

Fierce yet not fearsome, dark yet undying, she passes her stories and staunchness to a new generation of lore-keepers.

And we will remember.

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