I turned up at Millennium Square at 6pm, to find the fire already lit, and blazing fiercely against the drizzle...
From above, the scene looked strangely Lowry-esque:
Nevertheless, the temperature in that fire was still around 700 degrees centigrade. At 6.15 I and 70 other virgin firewalkers were escorted to a mandatory seminar in preparation for the Event. I was afraid that this would be either a) a cult-style indoctrination - something about the word "seminar" made me think of scientology - or else b) a horribly touchy-feely experience in which we would be exhorted to say things like "woot" and "yee ha" and "I can live my dream" - all of which I'd been dreading far more than the firewalk itself. Luckily the man conducting the seminar was from Taunton, and fairly laid back. All it amounted to was a few mild ice-breaking exercises - giving each other silly dance moves to do, and such.
And so, on to the firewalk itself. The burning logs were by now reduced to an even carpet of raspberry popsicles, which were raked occasionally with the traditional Firewalker's Set-Square. I wasn't wrong in suspecting a Masonic link, it seems: eat your heart out, Tamino (and pull your tongue out by the roots while you're about it)!
The crowd of firewalkers outnumbered the people who had come to watch them, and for a while there was confusion as we tried to edge our way to the fire itself, but eventually it was my turn, and I made the walk - as you can see, more or less in my sleep:
To be honest it was a bit of an anti-climax, and didn't hurt a bit - but I posed for a triumphal shot afterwards...
... before being taken for a drink by my friends Dru and Mal. Dru took most of these photographs, and Mal bought the beer. Thank you to both! And thanks to everyone who sponsored me.
What will I do next? I thought about sky-diving, but on reflection I'd prefer people to sponsor my longevity - an event I propose to call die-skiving.
Will it catch on? How could it not?