The smell of fires and fireworks

We didn’t have fireworks this year… we haven’t for a while now but we always used to, every year, even though we couldn’t have a bonfire in our garden. We would have the fireworks and we would always have Heinz tomato soup and sausages and jacket potatoes… well we’re having sausages tonight but no soup or jackets!

As a child we had a long enough garden to have a bonfire in the empty vegetable patch; the lady who owned our flat and the garden was always delighted that we used it; she  lived in the flat upstairs and thinking about it now, I would guess she sat by her window and watched us out in the garden standing around the bonfire. We had fireworks too, but I don’t remember the tomato soup and sausages so maybe that’s just our little family tradition!

Even coming home from school on Bonfire Night, the air would be full of the smell of fires… everyone in those days had coal fires, not many people had central heating, but the smell of a coal fire is different. It really did seem exciting to smell bonfire smoke! The following day, whether it was wet or dry, there was the smell of embers and we used to collect the sticks from the rockets which had fallen in the road.

We must have had a ‘guy’ on our bonfire, but I don’t really remember; the guy would be old clothes stuffed with newspaper to make a figure representing poor Guy Fawkes who of course, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Reading his story now, his life story not just his end of life story, there is a chilling resonance with the world today. In Fawkes time it was different Catholic factions and states fighting for control with different Protestant factions and states and terrible, barbarous acts took place; the November the 5th plotters may have hoped to detonate their gunpowder through lighting a fuse with a match, but the effect would have been the same as a modern terrorist with a remote-controlled bomb…. Sobering thoughts…

Meanwhile, I shall enjoy the display of fireworks in the sky across the town which I can see from the window beside me here!

Sidcot Fireworks (14)

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