There was an odd lack of enthusiasm among my work colleagues towards Guy Fawkes night this year.
Very lack lustre, really. “I’m done with fireworks.” “If you’ve seen one fireworks show, you’ve seen ’em all…” “I’m not getting chilled for an hour waiting for a fifteen minute display any more.”
For goodnessake!! There is nothing finer at this time of year than a proper whizz bang pop firework display whether it’s for four in a back garden or six hundred watching the show in a vast field.
With Father Christmas completely eclipsing parents at Christmas, it’s just about the only time of the year when dads are allowed to be heroic.
I remember my own father’s difficulties with errant Catherine wheels. They invariably stuttered to a halt after a couple of turns but continued to burn.
“Leave it dad. It’s on fire!! It’ll explode!” we kids would exhort nervously but brave dad would fearlessly approach and nudge the lethargic firework with a finger, whereupon it would perform a few jerky spark-scattering twirls, fall off the nail and splutter to nothing in the damp grass.
Memories are made of this. And the year dad left the fireworks box too close to his display, so a spark from only the second Roman Candle sent the entire box hopping noisily and spectacularly around my nan’s back garden. We all took refuge by the coal shed and although it was all over in about two minutes, it was a firework night we never forgot!
November 5th is a benchmark of the year; much more so than Halloween, which has been transformed due to the lamentable American influence from a mild pagan-inspired festival to a pumpkin-riddled horror-fest where children as young as three are dripping with faux blood, offer you a severed hand and can just about ennunciate “Trick or treat.”
So obviously, we went to the firework display I always enjoy at Speech House in the Forest of Dean. It was even more popular this year than ever before, but that’s good as all proceeds go to the Lions Club who organise it and distribute goodies to local charities.
There were a few fairgroundy attractions at the back of the field, but much more compelling was the bonfire – huge and leaping against the backdrop of tall trees glowing red in the smoky firelight. A big fire is always fascinating – to me anyway. Maybe it comes from all those peaceful afternoons at home reading or drawing in front of a real coal fire – pausing to examine it and imagine the fiery caves and kingdoms within the burning embers before the soft collapse of ash into the grate re-arranged it all.
The fireworks were fabulous – and included at least four I hadn’t seen before, including one rocket which I swear had an outer circle of red and a smiley face in the middle featuring two green eyes, a red nose and a red smiley mouth! Clever or what?!
If I had to gripe, it would be about the lack of noise. Few of the fireworks seemed properly noisy. I feel you really need the sound-effect of slightly muted artillery fire; the sort of bangs that would make a grown man yelp. That’s a proper firework. I’m sure modern fireworks are fitted with silencers. The thud of the big rockets leaving the ground were good enough but there were only a few fireworks with banshee wails. The rest were a almost library-quality.
It’s not as though anyone’s going to be traumatised by a bit of noise, surely? When my uncles were boys, they used to go round throwing bangers at each other. It was part of growing up. They weren’t issued with £4 a time glowsticks because they weren’t allowed sparklers. They wouldn’t have been seen dead with a sparkler anyway – the only acceptable thing was wearing shorts featuring two pockets bulging with proper bangers.
I should probably add that this was Wales, which has gone comparatively H&S and gentile. No doubt they are still chucking bangers in other parts of the country.
A youth in Leeds lobbed one at me when I was walking the dog, one evening. I was startled but Rolls less so, because he spent much of his puppyhood listening to the bang of exploding crisp packets and enthusiastically investigating the crumbs which resulted.
Sadly, on that occasion, there was only dogged disappointment over the lack of crisps.
Your enthusiasm puts me to shame, Jan: we went quiet on bonfire night this year and the kids missed it a lot. Love your pics-beautiful- and your firework friendly crisp-enthusiast dog. Made me chuckle 😀
Thanks, Kate. There’s always next year! 🙂
A lovely read Jan and great pictures .We just peered out of the back door to view other assorted sky-goings-on! As a boy i would chase rocket sticks falling from the sky whenever we had a park display but my favourite moments were indeed at home in the garden when dad was in charge, 1950’s style.
Thanks for popping by, PapaG! 🙂 You know, I’ve never seen a rocket stick fall? Some of the rockets on Saturday exploded directly overhead like a vast umbrella of fizzy sparkles. Brilliant!!
Excellent photos, Jan!
We had Scouts fireworks on Friday… the the big ne here is yet to come, on 12th. Fingers crossed for a dry evening…
Hi Pseu, thanks but the photos were very random. I’m fully confident that your photos will be much better. I’m looking forward to them already. My fingers are crossed 🙂
You should have been round here. Someone (Asda?) has been selling incredibly noisy fireworks. I’m not a fan of anything noisier than a sparkler.
I think I should have! I was worried about the cats, actually and was considering shutting them in but they had the good sense to stay indoors until all was quiet – until well after 11.30pm in fact!
Remember, remember indeed, Jan. how accurately you combine childhood recollections with the reality of now. Sitting on my father’s shoulders at the village `do’, I can remember the shape of the Guy laced with flame and the explosion of crow scarers someone had put in his pocket. Lovely photos, what a steady hand you have.
(Gentile Wales? Have they lost their sheep? Silures and Ordovices loose again?)
I like these shared recollections, Ant. Crow scarers? Now those *are* loud!! When a local orchestra planned to use them during their performance of the 1812 at Newland church in the Forest of Dean, there was considerable consternation that they might rattle the lovely stained glass windows. It was fine – and that never-to-be-repeated, slightly rough around the edges performance, complete with frantically sawed violins, was exhilarating and fun!
Above all else, we keep the faith in Wales. 🙂
Your photographs mix well with the pictures my eyes took when I was six or seven, your steady hand brings the words and images together. The crow scarers blew bits of bonfire onto the church porch and set it alight. The sound, for a kid, was welly-shaking deep joy. Actually, I still like bangers. Jumping jacks are even better.
Oi vay, is there a wall in Wales for Wailing? Look you, my life?
Ah jumping jacks – one of my favourites too!! Kind of harmless yet capable of inciting undue panic and shrieky hysteria.
Not that faith. Strictly congregational. White kid leather shoes with pretty dresses and banners and parades on Whit Sunday – and that was just the boys! Boom boom 🙂
Lovely boys, I think we saw them play at the London Welsh ground, the Old Dear Park.
Very genteel, and we were all gentiles in the showers, not that I was looking, look you.
I can’t really comment on what went on in the showers but no doubt at least some of them were circumspect…