Friday, 6 November 2015

Bonfire Night

no longer happens in this part of Downunder. The government decided it was not safe. It is the beginning of the fire season. There were too many accidents. There were....The list of excuses for not having it went on and on.
As I write this Bonfire Night is occurring in the UK and responsible people will be trying to keep their pets inside and as calm as possible.  No doubt there will be some accidents. Humans and fireworks are not a good combination.
We had Bonfire Night when I was a kitten. We were told about Mr Fawkes in school. I doubt it was a very accurate version. It all sounded exciting rather than serious. 
For several weeks beforehand - probably the entire month of October - children could buy fireworks. They would be set off at all sorts of times and in all sorts of places. We were not permitted to buy fireworks. We had no pocket money to buy them.
We knew we would get a few. Our paternal grandfather would buy some. There would be a bonfire of all the rubbish our father had been collecting and our grandfather would set the fireworks alight for us. We liked the Catherine wheels and the fountains but not the ones that went off with a big bang although we didn't mind the squibs too much. 
We had "sparklers" - even I was allowed to have a sparkler despite the possible dangers of doing accidental harm to myself. I remember the thrill of actually being allowed to hold the stick as it went "fizz". 
And remember those potatoes we insisted on cooking in the bonfire? They were black on the outside and raw on the inside.
I remember the last, sad, sleepy sizzle of the fire too. My grandfather would hose it down and it would be trodden on and then hosed down again. He never took risks with fire.
I was always concerned about the animals. My mother would stay inside with my baby sister and our cat, Blackie. We thought it was very noble of her to miss out on the fun. Looking back I suspect she was only too happy not to be there - although my grandmother seemed to genuinely enjoy being with  us. It was a little longer before the concept of burning money started to bother me.
I also remember my father carefully pulling one of the fireworks apart. He showed us what "made it work". He told us about gunpowder - and how dangerous it could be. I remember him lighting the match and making the tiny, tiny pile of gunpowder "explode" in the driveway. My mother was not keen on that lesson but my brother and I were greatly impressed by it. We did not play with fireworks. We never played with matches either. 
Children growing up in our part of Downunder don't know about Bonfire Night now. I am glad they aren't burning money and even happier that animals are not being terrified. But, there is a tiny part of me which knows the children are missing out on something.

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