One of my favourite memories of bonfire night was when I was around 10 years old. Although looking back now, 20 years on would be one of my worse nightmares as a parent.
Every year we would have a party at my nan and grandad’s house. My dad is one of 7 children, six boys and a girl, and every year my cousins and I would gather excitedly in our nan and grandad’s tiny back garden awaiting the fireworks, sparklers in hands. My uncles and great uncles would all be drinking merrily, taking turns to light the fireworks.
This year in particular my youngest uncle, nearer my age than my dads, had purchased a huge, menacing looking creation. Instructions are rarely read in our family however due to the look of it, my grandad decided it was better to be safe and light it at a more lengthy distance. Therefore he and my uncles lifted the fence panels gaining them entry to next doors garden, with a prestigiously kept lawn. A few cousins and I stood huddled, eagerly awaiting, while my uncle lit the end. The rest all passed in slow motion as the firework exploded like a bomb, my dad, grandad and uncles ran for cover, flames glaring behind them. My mum and aunts threw themselves on top of us children. After the bangs finally subsided we all broke into hysterics. The fence panels were quickly replaced as we all gasped at the crater like hole in next door’s garden. Later on it was realised you had to unravel it into a rope type firework rather than light the whole thing. I never found out what the neighbour said the next day in daylight but I suspect he wasn’t happy.
As I got older I realised my mum was always fretful and anxious on Bonfire Night and after a display at a local pub, where the fireworks shot into the crowd, time was called on our Bonfire Nights. At the time I probably moaned about us not going anymore, typical teenager that I was. However, since becoming a parent myself, I can see how dangerous those situations were for us and how something could have gone so drastically wrong.
Remember, remember the 5th of November…The day Guy Fawkes was captured after his involvement with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes was a recusant Catholic, meaning he refused to attend Church of England (Protestant) services, which at the time meant anything from fines to imprisonment. Fawkes started meeting with a man called Robert Catesby, whose plan was to assassinate King James I. The group of plotters rented a basement room under the Houses of Parliament. Here they started to accumulate and store gunpowder to ultimately blow the Houses of Parliament apart. Guy Fawkes’ job was to guard the gunpowder. However after an anonymous letter, tipping off the authorities, Fawkes was found and captured. He was questioned and tortured and eventually, after confessing, hung.
So why all these years later are we still remembering the 5th of November? Many still celebrate, as it is seen as a British tradition and something families have enjoyed every year. I must admit that I always loved that bonfire night smell and the excitement of the display, huddled together in the cold with my cousins eating hot dogs. However with 40,000 people last year signing a petition to ban fireworks, is the 5th of November on the way to be forgotten?
As I scrolled down my newsfeed this weekend I was met with many conflicting posts. Some with pretty pictures of brightly coloured explosions, illuminating the nights sky. Others of pets looking sad and afraid with lengthy rants about the amount of fireworks, the noise, the time they are continuing to etc.
In all honesty I don’t actually take much notice of the fireworks. My dog seems more scared of thunder than the amount of fireworks we have heard since living in the countryside. Back in London there were rare nights I didn’t hear fireworks, as they seemed to be let off all year round either by teenagers in the park or for celebrations such as Eid, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.
Statistics show over 500 children are injured between the 4 week period around November 5th. The majority of these injuries are obtained at private displays or family parties. Most common injuries are those to the hands and eyes. A rocket can reach speeds of 150 mph and the tip of a sparkler can reach a heat of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to cause third degree burns.
With this in mind and the continuing stories flooding in across social media this week. Such as the devastating case involving the horse who died after twisting it’s stomach in his frantic panic, due to the fireworks above him – should the use of fireworks be banned from public purchase?
I have heard many people talk about the amount of moaners these days and that “things like this didn’t happen back in our day.” However, is it more just a case of social media giving these “moaners” a voice and highlighting some of the dangers, which may not have happened to you personally on Bonfire Night, but may have happened to others elsewhere in Britain?
As a mother now I would worry about my husband lighting fireworks in the back garden because that is who I have become since becoming a parent….a nervous Nelly. Nonetheless as they grow older they may ask to go to see the Fireworks and then, I believe a professional Firework display would be the safest option, with teams of professional pyrotechnicians, firebrigade and paramedics on hand for all eventualities.
If you are having a display of your own this year here are some tips for keeping safe:
- Only use fireworks with a CE mark. Only SOBER adults should set them up and light them after reading all instructions.
- NEVER return to a firework once it is lit.
- Direct all fireworks and rockets away from humans.
- Sparklers are for over 5s but all children should wear gloves and be supervised.
- Have a bucket of cold water nearby to extinguish all finished sparklers.
- Ensure a bonfire is completely out before leaving it, extinguish with water do not leave to burn out.
I would love to hear your opinions on Bonfire Night. Will you be celebrating tonight or at the weekend? Do you despise Bonfire night? Whatever you decide to do please stay safe and take care of yourselves.