“Happy Explosive Idea Day”

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.

Drawing by: Chopin

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.

Drawing by: Chopin

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.

Drawing by: Aytan

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!”

Drawing by: Aytan

7 responses to “Happy Explosive Idea Day”

  1. sterlingsop says:

    I just watched your interview with Russell Howard and I am absolutely blown away by your absolute joy of just being alive! Your enthusiasm for life is infectious and your tics certainly are (frustratingly for a would-be writer to witness) creative. Good luck with your live broadcast on 15th November. May the force be with you…so long as they are all wearing dungarees 🙂

  2. chad0x001 says:

    also found you through your appearance on russell howards show. You totally rock. I’m pretty jealous right now, like most blokes I know I’d love to have tourette’s.

    Thanks for clearing up that it’s OK to laugh 😀


  3. Suziewright says:

    Again Jess, i discovered you and your blogs via Russell Howard. You rock!! You have totally brightened my day! I will be watching your live broadcast on the 15th. As a mother of a child with a disability (although not tourettes) i can totally appreciate how peoples stereotypes need changing. We are all different disabilities or not and we should all embrace our individuality!! May i wish you the very best in all that you do!

  4. ETTA_STARK says:

    Like everybody else, it seems, I found out about your blog from Russell Howard’s Good News. You were fantastic! Love the strange relationship that you have with your neighbourhood lamp-post. Wonderful lamp-post references in this post. “Lamp-post, look how pretty you could have been.” “Aim for the lamp-post.” 🙂

    You must have been the hardest person ever to interview. How do you keep up with "Hedgehog!" and "TaylorSwiftInYourMothersMind.com!" Russell always seems so lovely to all the people he interviews. Usually it’s 80 year old pro-wrestlers. I do hope he is as lovely as he seems. I am going to read the rest of your blog, now. If it turns out he’s actually a massive cunt off-camera, I will be very sad.

    I don’t have any practical experience of Tourettes. But my internal dialogue sounds EXACTLY like that. There are so many episodes of sci-fi series where people can read other people’s minds (yes "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", I’m looking at you) where people’s thoughts sound like normal sentences. My thoughts are blurty nonsense. One of my ongoing space-filling thought noises is "I’m pregnant!". Dozens of times a day. I’m not. I haven’t been pregnant for over twenty years. If I didn’t have a brain to mouth filter, I’d be announcing "I’m pregnant!" out loud every time I went to Sainsbury’s.

    I know it’s not the same. I love the fact that you’re increasing awareness of Tourettes. It’s not about swearing. Same as OCD isn’t about being super-tidy. I have been managing Depression for my whole adult life. ‘Depression’ doesn’t just mean ‘feeling a bit sad about stuff’.

    Thank you for being so awesome, Jess.

  5. NicholasNoble says:

    Hi Jess! I just registered and had a quick peek at your blog. I imagine you’ve already spoken here about the nature of your ticks but I haven’t found that yet. I came here to ask you about your apparent love of words. It seems you have a broad vocabulary but also that your ticks seem to have a few things in common. Plosives, assonance and sometimes alliteration.

    Lamp Post
    and of course Biscuit

    Has this occured to you? I think your ticks are all really satisfying words to say because of the physical feel of them and the way they hit the ear. "Cats" is much mor fun than Meowing because it’s harder and more cutting. They’re often emphatic statements or greetings I’ve noticed too. Does this make sense?

    Yours Fascinated,


    ps Happy Advent! (nearly)

  6. karl says:

    What a fantastic poem. I really love that. Bare talent tics. Bang!

  7. Charlie says says:

    Thank you Jess – finding your website was like finding a pure nugget of joy. Reading all your tics makes me feel like I might be in a Channel4 creative meeting looking for new reality show ideas! How about bringing out a line in t-shirts for Christmas or greetings cards?

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