Whilst I've always loved bonfire night ever since I was a kid (more of which later), I have to say I hate the number of fireworks that are let off weeks in advance, by spotty brats in some pyromaniacs version of a pissing-competition. At about midnight last night, it sounded like Blackheath common's firework display had moved a mile south...
Weeks before the event fireworks go on display in shops, and are nominally available to anybody over the age of 16. But we all know (as with so many things), this is widely abused by parents, older brothers, and lazy shopkeepers.
I hate sounding like a middle aged old man (god, my father even), but I really am beginning to think organised fireworks display, and licensed operators should be the only people who can do these things. Kids with these things are not only a nuisance, but a menace (fireworks through letter boxes anyone? Rockets fired at people? Bangers all month long? Not to mention the poor pets cowering under the sofa)
This is all sounding very downbeat. But I do always recall the bonfires I recall as a kid (doesn't everybody?). I grew up in the small village of Priddy, Somerset. The bonfire there would be built by farmers and villagers from garden/farm rubbish. Invariably a huge bonfire would result, and would smolder away for days afterwards.
Villagers all turned up and each family that had them, would set off a box of fireworks. We'd all envy the biggest rockets. Ironically, I remember messing about with a rocket and a discarded drain pipe seeing how far up the road we could get them going. I'm a hypocrite, I suppose.
Anyway, invariably the Young Farmers would be along, and fuelled on Scrumpy and Cider, they'd usually (for some weird reason) wind up being (or just feeling) responsible for ensuring the fire was going.
One particularly damp 5th November (for, shock, we used to do it on the actual day!), there was some trouble getting the fire to catch. I recall, being only about 9 or 10 at the time, being more than a little horrified when one of these lads climbed onto the partially burning bonfire, clutching a large can of something. He then merrily spread it around, before jumping off. Agricultural Diesel or Petrol, I don't know. But it was scary. Suffice to say, the fire caught quite quickly after that. He was lucky it didn't involve him.
Now? Well, the villagers get a local fireworks expert to put on a superb organised display. Much better (not to say safer), and hundreds (as opposed to 50 or 60 people) turn up. But my memory of the nutty Young Farmers lives on.
Ooooooooooooooh! What does this button do!? - DeeDee, Dexters Lab.