Happy 5th of November! It is of course Fireworks Night, and people across the country will be celebrating the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
Since I was a kid I’ve felt conflicted about this night – it’s both one of my favourite celebrations and one of my worst nightmares.
I love November, and particularly the beauty of fireworks and the smell of bonfires. But I’ve always found loud bangs and sudden surprises very over-stimulating. That, combined with a longstanding history of being compulsively drawn to naked flames, and you’ll probably understand why this time of year presents me with some challenges.
Also I grew up in the 80s when fireworks safety adverts were everywhere and they left me with the ingrained idea that even looking at a firework from a mile away is incredibly dangerous. The ‘Never go back to a lit firework’ message got so firmly embedded that I’ll still be skirting nervously round the tiny discarded remnants of fireworks well into December.
As my tics have increased, so too has my body’s excitable reaction to fireworks. My vocal and motor tics both get in on the act and it’s not uncommon for me to involuntarily grab the neck, arm or hair of the person nearest to me, launch myself out of my chair like a rocket, and screech things like, “That one’s going to go bang!”
We all know that tonight’s the official Fireworks Night but this year the kids in my area seem to have extended the occasion, creating a whole ‘Fireworks Month’. For weeks fireworks have been howling through the streets almost every night. This is obviously dangerous and has been causing a lot of worry and disruption locally.
My tics however have responded with their usually diplomacy:
“Aim for the lamp-post.”
“It’s a Catherine Wheelie-bin.”
“Post box, have you always wanted to be a rocket?”
“First one to hit a pigeon gets a chocolate egg.”
“The streets are alive with the sound of detonations.”
“Lamp-post, look how pretty you could have been.”
But despite everything I still love Fireworks Night.
Whatever you’re doing tonight, whether it’s watching a display, cowering indoors, checking bonfires for hibernating hedgehogs, or celebrating the idea of revolution by protesting against corruption, human rights abuses and censorship on the Million Mask March, I wish you a good and safe evening.
I thought that would be the end of this post but my tics had other ideas and piped up with an alternative ending – a poem:
“Imagine a firework in the mind of a rainbow
and a bang in the belly of a cloud.
Imagine a rocket singing in the rain
and a whisper the size of the sea.
Imagine a sparkler in the hands of an ant
and the power in the hands of many.”
Happy Fireworks Night. “That one’s about to go bang!” – “Bang!”