"She will, she will, she will, she will,
Let it take her breath away."
The garden’s on fire. From an exploding rocket far too big for a milk bottle. It immediately toppled over and shot the firework along the ground. And there goes the rhubarb patch. That was the first and last firework night my dad hosted at home. The very reason they recommend organised displays.
Our annual local display up at the park by the shops had recently been cancelled though from a complete lack of organisation in previous years. I’m not sure who even was supposed to be in charge of it. Or how it lasted so long. I clearly remember rockets raining in to the audience one year – though fortunately no-one was hurt. And the highlight was always the perilously huge bonfire. This was basically an excuse for the local estates to clear out their houses and save money on a skip.
For weeks, the bonfire would build and build. Anything and everything was thrown on to it. From mattresses to gas canisters. And it towered over the park. You could imagine Richard Dreyfuss making mashed potato sculptures of it at the dinner table. By the time November 5th rolled round, this beast of a bonfire was so volatile that there was no need for an elaborate lighting ceremony. Basically anyone within a mile of it with a sparkler was likely to set it off. And the heat and roar of the flames was intense. It was no wonder the park had so few trees and so little grass left.
The unbridled fun and total disregard for safety didn’t end there. For days after, the bonfire would be left unattended and smoldering away in the park. And then the games began. ‘Jump The Bonfire’. ‘Walk Through The Bonfire Without Melting Your School Shoes’. ‘Throw Your Friend’s New Gym Bag In The Bonfire’. Happy days.
About a month later you’d see a couple of men in suits slowly circumnavigating the enormous burnt patch in the middle of the park and looking mighty miffed. As if they could clearly remember their council department disallowing any bonfire event to take place here, and they weren’t ready to believe that these were the markings left by an alien spacecraft. Meanwhile, the locals would already have begun hoarding petrol cans and asbestos ceiling tiles to fuel next year’s bonfire.