We’ve been planning our next party at Franklin Avenue and revisiting the triumph of parties past. Last November, I brought Bonfire Night, British history and a touch of revolution, to Bed-Stuy. The invite called for guests to bring their own effigy to burn, and so a model of a soccer referee in striped shirt dubbed Bad Judgement, two members of the tea bag party (Twinings on sticks), a Buddhist’s false self (created on the night from scraps of cardboard) and a sacked journalist’s copy of Gourmet magazine, were all fed to the fire, before our own Guy Fawkes, a five foot scarecrow anarchist with velveteen jacket and tweed hat, was sacrificed to chants of Burn Him, Burn Him. I don’t think the Americans quite understood what they were taking part in, but despite, or maybe because of that, the ritual gave the party a charged, conspiratorial edge.
There were sparklers and proper English bangers and (since fireworks are illegal in NYC) a firework display projected on the side of our neighbour’s house. Our chickens survived unharmed. Our garden, which became an impromptu dancefloor warmed by the bonfire, did not. And there, next morning, in the wreck of the lawn, I found a make-believe island, the New York skyline redrawn as Wren’s London.