Remember, remember the 5th November – I have been pondering my memories of Bonfire Night as a kid. I realise that I loved Bonfire Night even though I often felt as if I was on the outside looking in. For any American Readers you can find out all about the tradition of Bonfire Night here
Processions of kids wrapped in scarves, hands protected from the cold in mittens, dragging trolleys filled with wood and newspapers as the build up to the night begins,
Pyres growing higher by the day as Dad’s arrive home from work and give up their trips to the pub in order to beaver away carefully placing the wood gathered and delivered daily by the kids.
Mums huddled over sewing machines, snipping at old jumpers, adding buttons to old coats, a snip here a stitch there, a hat acquired from Grandad’s coathook, Nana’s lipstick substituted for paint as the brightest lips are painted on and slowly Guy Fawkes emerges from the imaginations of women who rarely have the chance to be creative.
Hunting for hedgehogs in the wood pile every day. Ladders propped against the pile giving access to the Dad designated to place Guy Fawkes at the top.
Excitement in school, the day seems long as kids fidget and wait for the bell ready to run all the way home for the long awaited festivities, the party of the year, when all neighbours come together for fun and frivolity.
Smoke filling the rain soaked air, as trousers are tucked into wellies, duffle coats, scarves, hats and gloves are donned. Mums fussing, making sure that there are no gaps in clothing for fireworks to land in. Then out into the field trudging through the mud, boys chasing girls with sparklers, laughter filling the air, the smell of burning potatoes rising from the embers, pots filled with beef stew sitting on home made grills flames licking the sides, keeping the pots warm, ready to be added to the charred lumps of potato that will emerge in no time. Soon to be replaced with apples wrapped in silver foil.
Aching jaws from chewing the home made treacle toffee. Toffee apples with a coating so hard teeth hurt when biting into the sweet sticky coating.
Sneaking away to return to the house to check on Mitzi my best pal, my beloved German Shepherd, hiding under the stairs and cuddling her, blanket over our heads, thick as thieves, comforting each other from the worry of all the commotion and excitement and the noise, so much noise as we sit in the darkness together who is keeping who calm? I suspect Mitzi kept me calm.
Shouts from my Sister to come outside, the light flicks on and she finds us. Leaving Mitzi alone, heading outside and standing looking up at the sky in wonderment of the colours, the patterns, the sparks. Covering my ears to protect from the noise, so much noise. Watching the Dads as they move back and to between the biscuit tins and the launch pad. Tin lids being lifted and little packets of magic being lifted out. Tin lids being replaced, checked by another Dad, Matches being struck, Dads running back, everybody staring, waiting for the whizz bang wallop. The squeal as a Catherine Wheel whizzes around on a fence. The noise, so much noise. Standing on the outskirts looking in, so much noise, so many people, so much laughter.
And then the silence, so quiet. Ears ringing, pulling the blankets over my head as I cuddle down with Mitzi in the bed. Tired, so tired.
Remember, remember the 5th of November as a kid……….. noise, so much noise, so many happy memories of people long gone from my life but never from my heart.
Happy Days. What are your memories?