Thursday, November 06, 2008

Remember, Remember The What Now ?

Over in the UK, given our long and proud history, we have lots of wonderful traditions, spectacular ceremonies and yes, even a few ecccentric customs that bring in the tourists and enrich the lives of our citizens.

Then we have Bonfire Night.

Overlooking the Health & Safety issues mentioned by Jenny, Nov 5th with it's nationwide plethera of bonfire and firework displays, both public and private, has to go down as one of our more bizarre traditions.

Of course some of the aspects of 'the 5th' have almost disappeared over the decades - like when did you last see kids on the street asking for a 'penny for the guy' ?  They'd be hard pushed to find a spot on Leeds streets not already taken by Big Issue sellers anyway.  No, in this day and age, the idea of 2 Oliver like urchins sitting next to a hastily created bonfire effigy and asking strangers for money, well the mind boggles.  

And they wouldn't ask, either.  And not for a penny.  No the mini 'hoodies' would probably mug you for your wallet and nick your mobile as a bonus.

Still, given half a chance, any kid will want to stand close to a large warming bonfire on a cold November evening.  Throw in a few fireworks (not literally) and those same kids will think Christmas has come early.  A bit like the tv advertisers !

And if those same kids are taken to one of the thousands of large organised bonfire and firework displays that take place up and down the country, then their little faces will be lit up like a stockbroker burning his share certificates.

I guess it would be very bah humbug of me to mention the hundreds of injuries and even the occasional death that come from fireworks and bonfires every 5th of November. I mean when you combine gunpowder and a lit match, the potential for disaster is always there.  Thankfully, as more and more of us let our town and city councils take care of the excitement for us with properly organised displays, then fewer and fewer kids (and the occasional adult) will turn up at hospital emergency depts with smoldering stumps where their hands used to be. 

After watching the firework displays that were a large part of the Beijing Olympics, I've personally had enough of them for a while.  Talk about money going up in smoke !  

Dammit, that was a bit bah humbug too.  Sorry.

Obviously I've 'missed' Bonfire Night for several years now but I have to admit that going with a few friends to the huge bonfire and fireworks display in Roundhay Park, Leeds was always a fun thing to do. A properly organised arson display always gladdens the heart and pleases the eye. We'd all ooooh and ahhhhh at the fireworks, safe in the knowledge that no one would get hurt and that our tax money was being well spent.  

"Look there goes another 15 and red with just a hint of white as it comes down. Awesome"

I don't know if Bonfire Night brings in the foreign tourists but I'm sure that those that are in the country at the time, really enjoy it.  And why not ?!

There aren't that many outdoor things to do on a cold and dark November evening and if you can legally set fire to a load of your old tat in your back garden and scare the bejesus out of the neighbours pets at the same time, then I'd say Guy Fawkes was a fine fella and we should celebrate his legacy for generations to come.

Guy who ?


Daphne said...

Bonfire Night when I was a child was one of the highlights of my year - no piece of wood was safe from us, we´d go "chumping" - for so we called it - all round the neighbourhood and always had a great time and nobody was ever injured. However, actually, I think the organised bonfires of today, though perhaps lacking the charm, for example, of the year when my Grandma forgot to put any sugar in the parkin, are much better really - far safer. I can´t believe that us Great British Public are still let loose with little bundles of explosives.

rhymeswithplague said...

I wondered if you were going to get around to mentioning Guy Fawkes. "Bonfire Night" just sounds so U.S.-college-football-pep-rally-ish.

Daphne said...

No, no, RWP, it doesn´t - it´s the generally-used British term for what used to be - and I stress USED to be - known as Guy Fawkes´ Night. November 4th used to be known as Mischief Night (because that´s when the Gunpowder Plot crew planted the explosives) and kids used to do horrible practical jokes on that night, letting tyres down etc - but it now seems to have completely gone, thank goodness. Guy Fawkes, as Silverback said, is increasingly forgotten and it´s called Bonfire Night everywhere.

jay said...

Oh, yeah, I remember the scouts going around the neighbourhood with a barrow collecting up firewood for their display - people used to save stuff up for them!

I think the Guy Fawkes connection faded when the PC lobby decided it wasn't permissible to burn effigies and made us all stop. Personally, I didn't grow up into an arsonist or a member of a lynch mob after my not particularly traumatic exposure to such things as a child, but I now dread 'Bonfire Night' because I have a phobic dog. Nothing seems to work for her and she quivers and slobbers and goes bug-eyed off and on for the best part of ten day period, because no-one sticks to the date anymore, either.

Bah Humbug!!

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