Friday, 31 October 2008


Halloween is a weird one in the UK. A few years ago (well, actually more like 20), it barely existed, with the Brits snobbishly looking down their noses as their US counterparts and prudishly eschewing what is essentially a bit of fun for kids at one of the darker moments in the year. Admittedly, there are sad gangs of hoodrats who will use it as an excuse to up their mug-rates and rob the elderly of their winter fuel allowances, but to be honest they would be doing that regardless of having a festival to pin their offensiveness on.

More of a bother for me (when I was a city dweller that is), was the fireworks 'season', which in recent years has expanded exponentially from a solitary weekend a year, to a 6-week long 'Tribute to War', with an almost constant barrage of explosive noise & light running throughout the night time hours around this time of year. I'm sure it's no big deal if you don't have pets, but for the more easily spooked, it can be a proper nightmare.

Since moving to the ends of the earth (remote, rural, can still see stars in the sky), fireworks have become someone else's pursuit. However, a couple of years back we found ourselves strangely seduced by 'The Big One', as sold by our local farm-machinery-repairists. Now this is a truly macho world, where engrained greasy palms and knowing grimaces meet every ignorant inquiry, so we knew they would take pride in selling their own brand fireworks.

Happy with just the single item, that night I wandered into the paddock outside the house on an inky black night, leaving my wife & our two dogs huddled inside the rear porch. With the 'bomb' angled away from me and with my arm extending beyond it's own socketry to touch the blue fuse, I ran screaming back to the porch, stumbling across the bumpy terrain and turning back just in time to see a hiroshima-style detonation and the sound of widespread panic amongst the sheep community. Ginergly I tip-toed back to peer into what I was sure would be a deep and smouldering crater, and shone the torch into the neighbouring field, where, 20 sets of accusing eyes stared back at me from the furthest corner where the sheep had fled to. This year it's a sparkler for me - and not from the local farm-machinery-repairists either.


TwinMotion said...

Halloween is a Celtic/pagan festival that has been celebrated in Britain & Ireland for thousands of years. The Americans jumped on it and commercialised it, but its not their invention :)

Lee Durant said...

I was shot with a firework by a 'hoodrat' while walking home from the bus in Bethnal Green during the fireworks season one evening after work. It hurt like nothing else.

Two days later I was out running in Victoria Park when I narrowly avoided being shot again.