November 5th, 2009


Bonfire Night

It's getting dusky already and for some reason I'm remembering how we used to peer out of the window on Bonfire Night longing for the dark and the excitement to come. I used to read this book to get me in the mood. In those pre-health and safety days there'd be a bonfire and fireworks in almost every back garden. We were allowed not only to buy fireworks ourselves but to keep them in our bedrooms. We bought the little ones, 'holding fireworks' as they were known ('Always Hold in Gloved Hand'); Golden Rain, Silver Fountain, sparklers. The catherine wheels and rockets were left to the grownups.

It was one of the great events of the year and Hallowe'en didn't exist for us. Bonfire Night is still taken seriously in places like Lewes but you only have to look at the shops to know that the time of year has been Americanised. Shame. It was such fun going into the foggy garden next morning (the weather has changed, too!) looking for dead rockets with the smell of old smoke and chrysanthemums hanging in the air.

Here's Adrian Mole on the subject:
Friday November 6th
Last night some irresponsible people down our street had bonfire parties in their own back gardens!
In spite of being warned of all the dangers by the radio, television,
Blue Peter and the media they went selfishly ahead.

Saturday November 7th
The Marriage Guidance Council bonfire was massive. It was a good community effort....
Nobody was seriously burned but I think it was a mistake to hand out fireworks at the same time the food was being served.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, 1982