[…Bury St. Edmunds, England…]
The Christmas Fayre – that’s how they spell it here – is going on in the charming town of Bury St. Edmunds. It’s only a 3-day affair but judging from the amount of visitors, it’s one of the most successful fairs in England. I’ve been to quite a number of these in Germany – there they call it Christkindlmarkt or Christmas market, and they’re a good way of getting into the spirit of the season.
I had looked forward to this event not because of the fair, but because it’s probably the only time out of the year that the grounds of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral and the Abbey Ruins are open past dusk. I’ve wanted to shoot here at twilight since the summer, but like I said, they close down the gates before that. Much to my dismay, it wasn’t much of a spectacle after dark seeing that there were hardly any lights on in the Cathedral, and I had to fumble my way around the dark ruins on the slippery ground. It was so dark that the ruins were merely indiscernible silhouettes and focusing was a lot of guesswork and a bit of luck.
So there I was far away from the maddening crowd of the fair and in the middle of darkness by the ruins, when I saw two neon yellow figures walk towards me in opposite directions. One flashed his light briefly behind me, and asked,”Did someone run by you just now?”
I looked up behind me, put my frozen numb hands back into my coat pockets, and as I replied, white puffs of air billowed from my mouth. It’s a biting cold night, nothing that I wore tonight seemed to protect me one bit.
“No. Why?” I asked.
At this time, the other security – a female, had just inched towards us but said nothing.
“We received a report of a shadowy figure, dressed in black, running down here. Did you see anyone?” The man asked casually, as if trying not to alarm me.
No matter, I was still alarmed. I guess it didn’t help that not too long ago, I was just thinking about the Ipswich serial murders. I was in Ipswich on Wednesday night and was reading about the city this morning when I came across that article. I know that walking in the dark by yourself is never a good thing. That, and watching too much crime TV.
“Oh no, should I be worried?” I asked.
“No no no, we were just checking. Did you just get here?”
“I’ve been here about 5 minutes.”
“Were you down there earlier?” he was pointing further down at a different direction of the ruins.
“Yes I was.”
“So I guess it might be you then.”
“I guess it was,” I said, feeling much better with that thought. “I’m just taking pictures though, is that okay?”
“Oh no, you’re fine,” he said. “Carry on.”
And with that, they both left me alone in complete darkness for another minute or so of exposure that felt like forever.