Last night was at the Kendal Torchlight Carnival [web site, flickr]. Floats, shire horses, caribean-style dancers, old steam vehicles and a vintage fire engine to die for … how cool to drive to work in that!
I remembered summer holidays as a child, where the seaside villages and those nearby would often have street processions, a different village each week, carefully timed for tourist season. I even recall one on the Isle of White the year of the Isle of Wight Festival … but no I was a little too small to go to that!
Like, I would guess, most of the seaside processions, Kendal Torchlight is not an ancient festival, but only goes back less than 40 years, and apart from a fun fair does not include much beyond the procession itself. However, it was a slightly eerie feeling walking down towards the town through street empty of traffic and so quiet with families buggies and old ladies with fold-up chars all going in the same direction, almost like one of those zombie-style sci-fi films where everyone is drawn towards some unseen force.
I don’t go to football matches or other sports, so it was unusual that sense of all streaming together towards an event, the shared anticipation waiting together lined along the roadside and experiencing the lights, sounds and movements with so many at the same time (especially the enthusiastic lady next to us who cheered waved and shouted at every passing lorry and dancer). In a world dominated by the individual, from on-demand TV to corner yogurt pots, things that bring us together, whether ancient or modern, seem no bad thing.