Hi, my name is Hattie. I hate loud noises but love sparkly things. You can see how this might make bonfire night a time of particularly conflicting feelings for me. Usually, what pushes the 5th of November over into my long, long list of dislikes is that it’s in winter, and winter is absolutely categorically the worst time of year in my books. Or it was, anyway, up until last week.
I don’t tend to make plans around bonfire night because being cold and outdoors are ordinarily two of my least favourite states, but this year, my incredibly talented dancer friend Anna was performing at the Winchester fireworks events, and so of course a group of us bundled onto a train to see her in action!
Armed with excitement and discounted rail tickets, we embraced that oh-so-very-British tradition of drinking alcohol on the train, almost finishing it entirely before we even reached our destination. It is certainly an admirable trait of my friends that they are capable of polishing off a bottle of pre-mixed gin and tonic during an eight minute journey, stood up in the middle of a packed train carriage.
Winchester is where I went to college, and although I don’t think I took it for granted, it’s only with a bit of time and distance that I am really able to see just how quaint and pretty it is. Walking down the busy, cobbled high street, passing the market stalls and a hot chestnut stand made me feel nostalgia for a time I never saw. That’s the beauty of our old capital city, I think. And for a while, it’s lovely. Until you remember that most of its population are probably Brexit-supporting Tories, that is.
After another very-British-thing of heading to the nearest spoons to get a few more drinks in, we joined the flaming procession that was leading the way to the bonfire. It was far busier than any other fireworks event I’d been to in Winchester, and pricier, too. I don’t remember ever having to pay before, but I also don’t think I’d been to a fireworks night in Winchester for at least 4 years, so perhaps I was mistaken.
Once we were into the muddy field (something my slightly tipsy self didn’t care about at the time, but something my next-morning self and my next-morning self’s shoes did care about considerably), we searched for Anna, whose performance was happening intermittently throughout the evening. She danced superbly, performing a routine involving glowing orbs and some slow, interpretive movements. I really don’t know much about dance, but I do know that Anna is very good at what she does, and kept her composure incredibly well as we watched.
Then came the actual fireworks. Now, I have to say that I was disappointed. Considering the price of the tickets and the number of people attending, I really feel that we could have done with something a little more spectacular. I had been so excited for a breathtaking show, but left feeling like a catherine wheel that just fizzled out.
As pretty as Winchester is, and as much of a fantastic night as it was, my enjoyment was solely down to my friends, and a new discovery I made about myself. It might sound small, but it’s kind of important to me – I think I actually like winter.
Now, before you click away going ‘what on earth is she talking about, what kind of revelation is that?!’ – just hear me out.
For years of my life, an entire portion of the year was off-limits in terms of achieving happiness. When the nights drew in like star-speckled curtains around the bright days, I felt suffocated. When the weather grew bitterly cold, grey and drizzly, I retreated inwards to hibernate. Suddenly discovering the small pleasures of sipping a hot drink in the cold air and the magic of twinkling lights against the inky backdrop of night time has unlocked something quite important – precious extra moments of enjoyment.
And to be quite honest, I think that’s the most valuable thing a person can have.