Reflections from the Lantern Society, Hastings’ Candlelit Acoustic Club, by Trevor Moss

A trio of special occasions befell the Lantern Society over the last two months. December saw our second Christmas Special. It was standing room only, too many players to fit in. We over-ran, so Hannah-Lou and I closed the night by leading the remaining merry rabble in a shambolic, completely acoustic rendition of ‘Fairytale Of New York’ at the top of our struggling lungs. Spiced mulled wine, mince pies, cheap cracker hats, bad jokes and Christmas songs …  

Then, all too hastily, arrived the first Lantern Society of the New Year – coinciding with the second anniversary of the Hastings Candlelit Acoustic Club. “Happy New Year Everyone,” I announced, but was it a greeting or a question? 

Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou
PICTURE: Trevor Moss

This year the fireworks seemed to ring hollow, cracking like distant echoes vanishing down a well. The images on our TV screens of jubilant crowds overflowing the streets of London seemed like a reconstruction. The togetherness, the celebration, the hope for the year to come just didn’t seem real. 

Were they all hired? Was this a repeat? I think I saw too many Brit-pop t-shirts in the crowd. Were the streets in fact empty but for the marauding feral mobs slinging insults at one another, arguing about everything and nothing: in or out, the NHS, piers? Each a captivated fanatical viewer of their own morbid dance, documented in real time on their humming smartphones; to write and disseminate their uniquely corrupted versions of the truth, whilst skilfully avoiding tripping over the growing piles of homeless souls desperately clinging to life? Happy New Year.     

Celebrations are rituals, routines, cultivated and repeated over time into traditions. Self-reflexive loops where seeds of time are sown and reaped, planting familiar milestones to anchor oneself to on the chaotic journey of life. Progress is the key. Things getting better and getting better at things. When progress is stunted, traditions are no longer milestones but shackles. 

The group of Lantern Players tonight may have been the best collectively the Lantern has ever seen. They were fireworks, each one spectacular and marvellous but for some reason, to me, they echoed hollow in our post-industrial temple to progress. Here we are again, the same routine, the same bunting, many of the same songs under the same flickering lights as one by one players got up who deserve more. I only hope that in time, for as many as possible, the Lantern Society becomes a milestone and not a shackle.          

• The next Lantern Society is Thursday 7th February, and takes place every first Thursday of the month, at the Printworks on Claremont Rd.

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