“Money up in smoke…”

That was how my dad used to describe fireworks, but for all that I think he was a secret romantic when it came to watching displays.  Every year from when organised displays became the norm, we would go, even if it meant being waist-deep in mud.

Somehow when you were a kid there was romance about Nov 5 in those days.  The clocks had gone back so the nights were drawing in.  There was a chill about the air so you were dressed in coat, wooly hat and gloves, but since Health and Safety were far less in evidence, so you could get close enough to the bonfire to feel the heat and warm yourself against the raging flames, the gloriously heady smell of burning wood wafting through the air and into your nostrils.

The food served was somewhat different in those days.  You could get cups of hot soup, home-made parkin and treacle toffee, baked potatoes (often cooked on a real fire, never those potato ovens) and maybe a hot dog if you were lucky.  Not a burger or a chip to be seen!

Then there were the fireworks.  The home firework packs were always damp squibs, though as a young child you delighted in their transitory delights anyway.  But the industrial-sized fireworks were a new experience, like nothing you had ever seen before!  The sense of wonderment among young children makes an adult’s day complete.  In those days, a child would never be blasé about these wondrously thrilling instruments of excitement.

Rockets soared with a mighty whoosh, tails blazing with golden sparks, only to explode into a million tiny coloured fragments, a stained glass window in the sky – shards of blue, green, red, gold, silver, white dying back to earth.  At ground level, the ground was shrouded temporarily by a pall of sweet-smelling smoke.  And then there might be a roman candle, flinging flares of light 40 feet up.  And a catherine wheel, circles of light to dazzle your eyes.  Then bangers, cracking with fury against the silent night sky.

Funny how your memories are corrupted.  This year there was a band playing inbetween the fireworks, my daughter’s musical mates from school playing covers of rock and pop songs.  There was a stand selling doughnuts and another BBQing burgers.  The drinks stall sold cordial, coffee and tea along with the ubiquitous cans of coke.  But the look of wonderment on the faces of small children… that will never change :)).

PS.  Mind you – it could have been worse.  In Oban they got a case of premature explosion…

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