Fizzling to nothing

Image from

Fireworks season is well underway in Birmingham, with Diwali celebrations continuing this weekend and Bonfire night coming up next weekend. Wednesday night was very loud with lots of bangs, and my poor cat stayed out all night, presumably hiding away somewhere. Thankfully she seems fine, and the fireworks didn’t come to so much last night, perhaps because of the rain. There have been some more this evening but not on the same scale.

I’m not that keen on fireworks to be honest. I’m sure I complained once that the impressive Edinburgh displays were just a lot of money going up in albeit pretty smoke. And celebrating the execution of Guy Fawkes seems all rather macabre and not something I’d generally want to join. I went to a very wet Bonfire night in Lewes in Sussex back when I was a drama student and wrote an essay afterwards on carnivalesque and liminal spaces. My main memories are of the people chasing flaming tar barrels, getting soaked in the rain and large effigies of political figures including John Major getting burnt. I guess the fireworks festival in Lewes has outlasted a lot of politicians, many of whom have faded into obscurity.

The idea of something fizzling out has been on my mind as my international singing group has been less and less well attended. Since our funding dried up we’ve only continued through the generosity of the church where we meet and my own willingness to lead the group on a voluntary basis. We used to be able to offer help with paying bus fares, and the end of this has meant many of our refugee or asylum seeker members have been unable or less keen to come. While we have still been singing a very international mix of songs, attendees have been mainly white British with only a few exceptions, which makes the whole thing feel a lot less global and less successful in sharing cultures.

I am sad that the group seems on an inevitable slide towards closing, but it’s getting to the point where the investment of my time and that of a few other faithful attendees seems less worthwhile. We’ve recorded a track for a Christmas CD, and I hope we might find a final gig so we can go out in style. I’d much rather finish on a high note (or a harmonious chord perhaps) than fizzling out as the nights get darker and more people gradually stop coming.

When my old church closed it was a difficult decision to stop meeting together, but declining numbers weren’t the only factor in the decision. Other opportunities for the building and church finances led to many others being blessed, and people going separate ways have since contributed many gifts to other larger church congregations. I guess an ending is often a new beginning in disguise, and I hope that I will find a new project or outlet for some of the international songs and other things I have learnt during the years of running the group. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed…

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