It’s that time of year. Joyous celebrations and religious festivities. We have Eid al Fitr which is the Muslim religious day celebrating the end of Ramadan. Shortly after that in the UK we have bonfire night which celebrates a terrorist called Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the houses of parliament. Then we have the Sikh and Hindu religious celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights.
Now I’m not against any other religions doing their thing. However being the miserable grumpy git that I am, I get a bit fed up with how these festivities are celebrated. Specifically, I’m going to moan about the fireworks.
Days and days and days of none stop fireworks. On some nights they go on late into the night when I’ve got an early shift the next morning at work. And I need my grumpy sleep!
Now I know I’m going to sound like a miserable old git when I say this but of course I do. That is the whole point of this blog. Anyway, here goes….ready? Fireworks should be banned!!!!
I know, I know, It’s what you’d expect an elderly person to say but hear me out. I’m not saying that fireworks should be banned entirely. They should only be available at organised displays. And Olympic opening ceremonies. And closing ceremonies but not with Coldplay playing.
You see, those displays are done properly. They fire in different directions, in time to music, multiple explosions and colour and really are a wonderful sight to be enjoyed by all the family for an hour. Just an hour! Who couldn’t enjoy this?
But with fireworks being readily available to purchase by Joe Bloggs what we have to endure is far from the likes of the Olympic opening ceremony. The fireworks that people get from the shop are….well…crap! We have to put up with hours and hours and days of continuous racket from rubbish fireworks.
It spoils the tranquility myself and Mrs Grump usually enjoy in the evening within the sanctuary of Chateau Grump. The sounds of suburbia experienced here in Dudley is as beautiful and relaxing as birdsong. Sounds such as screeching tyres, a house alarm ringing, police sirens, some Chavs having an argument, the sound of a Chav riding a very loud scooter down an alleyway near my home, perhaps a police helicopter, maybe my next door neighbour having an argument with her cat and of course we can’t forget the classic fat exhaust and a drunk shouting at an onion. Yes, these seductive sounds of suburbia are what we’re used to and we can sleep through that. But when we have to put up with fireworks or more to the point, crap fireworks, we struggle to nod off.
I’ve had first hand experience of this firework phenomenon. When I was a wee 8 year old grump, my Dad went to the local newsagent and bought a box of fireworks. I remember vividly the excitement as my Dad walked in with the box of explosives. My little fat round head had a grin from ear to ear and I knew this was going to be something spectacular and a memory I would always treasure. It was a Monday night. So excited, I didn’t even get through the Mr Bean episode that was on TV. There were fireworks to blow up!! I couldn’t get my coat and trainers on quick enough. We entered the cold air of the November evening and the first thing we had to do was start a bonfire. Luckily, we had some spare wood lying around as did many gardens in my area. It was something that people in the black country seemed to have readily available in their garden. Some random wood lying around. We also had some hedge cuttings that had been saved just for this occasion. Dad created a pile, a safe distance from the neighbours fence and set fire to it. I was told to keep my distance. There was a lot of smoke and the wind was up, blowing it in my direction quite a bit. I then carried around the scent of “au de burning hedge” for a few days afterwards. I wasn’t exactly popular at school as it was. The stinking coat did not help.
Eventually the flames picked up, the smoke died down and it was a raging inferno…kind of. Then the fireworks came out. The box was opened and placed down on the floor. There were about half a dozen in there and it was as if there was a chorus of angels singing and a bright light shining on it. There were no angels and there was no bright light. It was my Dad looking in the box using a lighter for light.
Out came a milk bottle and we ventured down to the bottom of the garden. One of the rockets was placed in the milk bottle and with the lighter, Dad set the fuse wire alight. As soon as it caught my Dad shouted,”Ruuuuun!!!!” as if it was some kind of life threatening situation. Don’t get me wrong, fireworks are dangerous. But the way he shouted and the way I sprinted up the hill fearing for my life left me expecting there to be a risk of an explosion similar to this:
My Dad wasn’t far behind me as we reached the top of the garden looking down the slope to the sparks that were now engulfing the milk bottle. Any second now, it was going to launch skyward, reach the outer atmosphere and explode with the ferocity and force that would be heard and felt for miles around. War veterans would be flinch responding to the boom thinking it was an enemy attack. There would be a newsflash telling people not to panic. The colours would spray out with a majestic beauty lighting the landscape below with reds or blues or greens and every face that looked upwards to admire our firework would have the colour cast on their smiling faces and reflected in their bright eyes.
Any second now. I braced myself with the excitement turning my stomach inside out.
Any second now. How loud would it be?
Any second now. Would it make me jump?
Any second now. This tension was too much.
And then it went. Much like this:
It was shit. I wanted a Boom. What I got was a pop. I wanted a Whoosh. What I got was a fizz. I’ve popped out farts with more ferocity than that firework.
There was also a Catherine Wheel in the box of disappointment. What was this mystical Catherine Wheel? I had never seen one before. It clearly wasn’t a rocket. My Dad explained that it spins round and round with sparks flying in all directions. It sounded aggressive, it sounded dangerous. I wanted to see this bad boy in action.
My Dad attached it to some trellis and set the fuse wire off. It didn’t even spin. It sparked a little, went fizz and then nothing. “Stay Back!” my Dad shouted sounding a little stressed out about it all. “It could still explode.” I admit, I wias wishing it would. It would be more exciting than the shit I’d just witnessed. 5 minutes we watched it for. Nothing. The Catherine Wheel was also shit. So too were the other 4 rockets that disappointingly fizzled up limply into the sky and went pop. The whole show was over in less than ten minutes. But at least we had a fire. Other than that, it was the biggest disappointment of my life apart from my GCSE grades.
Some things haven’t changed even 23 years later and during the Eid, Diwali and Bonfire night celebrations, we are still submitted to constant Whooshes, Bangs, Pops and fizzles from these cheap and nasty fireworks.
But some people like to splash out on a large firework. Every now and again there will be a bang that will shake the foundations of Chateau Grump. I have witnessed one of these first hand when we celebrated the start of the new Millennium. Someone came running out with a firework that they were proud to announce had cost over £30. You could take a family of four out for a bite to eat somewhere for that kind of money. No Milk bottle required with this beast as they stuck the stick into the soft ground and lit the fuse. Everyone ran for cover and sure enough, sparks where shooting out the bottom ferociously and with a roar it shot off into the sky. The Boom was so large I was surprised that the windows didn’t cave in. Car alarms went off. Anyone local who had opted to just go to bed and avoid any new year celebrations where definitely awake now.
The silence after the Boom was almost deafening in itself. The only remains of the firework being the smell of sulphur in the air and the crater that had been left behind. A crater which could have been turned into a water feature with the aid of a bin bag and a couple of gallons of water. But still somewhat of disappointment I thought. Almost as much of an anti climax as the Paris Hilton sex tape.
So in summary, I’m not against celebrations, I’m not even against fireworks if it’s at a proper organised display. But the fireworks people buy for their own enjoyment are quite frankly…shit. So what’s the point?