Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bonfire Night!

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

When I was a kid this was the most looked-forward-to night of the year except for Christmas. The winter festival was for presents and family get togethers. Bonfire night was ours. We would start in late summer. Stockpiling wood in our gardens, anything we could drag off would end up being burned. I know there are many other colloquialisms for this but we called it chumping.

Then building the bonfire in late October, with dens inside and places to keep watch. No health and safety here; you had to be vigilant or rival gangs would descend like locusts to nick your wood, or worse, fire it early - like the night before.

Getting old clothes from our mums, stuffing them with straw and scrunched up newspaper, fastening them together to make an effigy and pulling it round on a cart. Penny for the guy? Of course that was real UK penny pre-decimalisation, probably worth less than a farthing now.

The night itself: lighting the fire, the delight and wonder as your beacon went out into the night. Biscuit tins with your fireworks in, setting them off one at a time so you didn't miss anything. Jacket potatoes roasted in the bonfire embers, parkin, blocks of rock solid toffee you had to smash with a hammer.

All for one night, and that is what made it so special. It was seasonal.

Nowadays people can buy and ignite stunning fireworks whenever they want. Has it lost some magic somewhere or am I just getting old?

Any which way have a great evening.


Anonymous said...

I remember the bonfires on the common, They are huge affairs in my memory or was it that I was small ?
Everyone from the neighbourhood used to join in. I think you missed pie and peas off the list of traditional fair though.
I also remember you doing all sorts of experiments with fireworks in your back yard, emptying out the gunpowder and making your own, using the outside lav to let them off and an old sink I seem to remember.
I can`t join in now a days, Have to stay in and keep the dog calm aaahhh .

Mark said...

OOps, it was me !! Forgot to put my name again

Andy Holroyd said...

Hi Mark. Yeah, those were the days. We did have quite big bonfires 'cos we were chumping for months. There were miles of hedgerows and bluebell wood to go at, as well as any old furniture etc we could scrounge.

At one time I got quite good at making my own fireworks, but that's another story; next year maybe.

Hmmm, Buckles' pork pies, how could I forget?