Monday, November 06, 2006

Remember remember the 5th of November...

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

There are many many things that bring out the boy in me. Fireworks are very definitely one of them. As a lad I had a bunch of mates with whom I experimented. Not with drugs or sex but with explosives. We started simple, firecrackers stuffed into redundant Action Man figures (well, GI Joe really, but most of you lot are Brits, so I’ll use the equivalent (nice, aren’t I?)) and filming them as they blew apart.

We then moved on to disembowelling the firecrackers to make bigger devices. Then, to making our own explosive mixtures. We trialed on making gunpowder. Pretty easy stuff really, then various mixtures using simple household ingredients. I suppose these days we’d end up getting nicked as budding terrorists, but then we were just kids. The whole experiment ended when we made a mortar and managed to quite seriously damage a neighbours garage roof. Took a while to pay that off I tell you.

The fascination continues. Given the chance to see things explode, I’m there. I miss making my own, and a dream job would be the designer in a fireworks factory, but watching is pretty good too.

One of our local villages puts on a bonfire night that checks all the right boxes for me. Saturday night was perfect for it too. First they start off with the bonfire. Not just any bonfire, but a four story affair made up of 55 tons of scrap wood. Plus they fill it with bangers, so not only does it crackle, but every few minutes it pops loud enough to make everyone jump.

Then there’s the fireworks, good ones. The setting couldn’t be better as it’s a glade in the middle of a forest. They set them off from various points, and seeing a forest lit up from the middle by fireworks is really quite something.

But they also make a lot of their own. First there are mammoth St Katherine’s Wheels. Some where quite spectacular, wizzing and fizzing in an array of colours. One didn’t turn, which was grand in itself as it blew up quite nicely. They also do skits. They get flairs in various colours, and string them on frames to make shapes. We had a nursery rhyme, Winnie the Poo’s 80th birthday, and a skit to celebrate the retirement of the local wood ranger (tongue firmly in cheek, of course).

Given the fact that there’s a whole roast pig and bambi, hot dogs, mulled wine hot chocolate on offer, its not a night to be missed. Now all I need to find out is how I can join up for next year. I have this great idea for an entirely different St Katherine’s Wheel…


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