I guess I’m old enough to remember when bonfire night was a big deal.
The sixties and the seventies would see November 5th go up in flames and every yob worth their salt construct gunpowder bombs and lob bangers into unlikely and dangerous places. Halloween was a mere blip before the fireworks commenced again in the build up to all the precarious and rather dangerous bonfires everywhere.
No-one ever really understood what it was for and why we were all standing around bonfires and watching bad tempered fathers set off fire works. Catherine Wheels sounded quaint if you didn’t know that they were some sort of mediaeval torture, and that Guy Fawkes character was a funny name and as he burned to a shred on the fire the whole thing seemed like a hot and firey cartoon.
No one ever seemed to get the Catholics against Protestants bit and the whole notion of blowing up the houses of Parliament was a distant folk memory. It was just some dusty back story in some old annual that was probably burning on the fire.
The death of bonfire night started when the councils started organizing bonfires and made it harder and harder to set up a fire on your own, maybe not such a bad thing with some of the idiots chucking petrol onto the pyres and some of the grim firework injuries but also quite sad to watch as people started to get bored with standing around in the cold watching someone else’s bonfire.
In the past ten years Halloween has taken over, after all we are all Americans now, and if theydon’t have a bonfire night and make loads of money from selling plastic toys for Halloween then so must we.
This year I’ve hardly heard a firework and seen no bonfires anywhere…has bonfire night disappeared like a damp squib- like a badly constructed bonfire on a wet autumn night? Are we happy to lose these strange and quirky British customs?