Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Playing with fire is only bad if you burn yourself...
I am never sure why, but Guy Fawkes is a big holiday. Everyone celebrates it here, and for at least two days before and about three weeks afterwards, fireworks are being set off as soon as the first stars are seen in the sky. I am sure if you had to question anyone closely on it, very few would actually know anything about Guy and what he got up to. But, as with Halloween, actually knowing what you are celebrating is a sideline to the fun of celebrating whatever it is.
This year, we bought into the whole fireworks thing (the boys are of an age to appreciate them and not be scared witless anymore) and so packed all and sundry into the car to go to the beach, from where the official firework display could be viewed without the hassle of being in a crowd estimated to be about 150 000 strong. The thought of having my two escape artists in a crowd that large was beyond my comprehension!
Everyone in our area had had the same idea, it seems. The beach was packed with revelers, all eager to set off the biggest fireworks. There is a thing about a man and his fire that has always fascinated me. Just watch men at a barbecue sometime - the man who controls the fire controls the world. It is a symbol of a man's potency (also probably from caveman days), and heaven help the man whose fire goes out with a damp fizzle - he is forever regarded with a mixture of pity and scorn by the other males of the group. Anyway, the same can be said of a man and his fireworks. The man who comes to the beach, dragging a firework that he cannot properly lift up is regarded with awe and deference by all those males out-classed by the monster display of male prowess.
Fireworks were being set off on all sides and the boys were wide-eyed as they watched the proceedings. Anticipation for the start of the main event was high, with the question "Is it starting yet?" being asked about a hundreds times from the car-park all the way to the end of the pier. Then, just as the main event was about to start, a kind couple with a girl about the same age as our boys offered the twins a sparkler each. As the music was striking up and the huge fireworks started shooting off into the sky, the man was using his lighter to light up each of the boys' sparklers. As showers of stars fell on either side, they waved their sparklers around with abandon. The fireworks went unnoticed as each boy discovered the joy of owning his own fire for the first time: "Me Man - Me make fire". And when the one sparkler went out before the other, I definitely caught that same look of camaraderie passing between them that I have seen on so many barbecuing men in the past. The next generation of fire-makers was upon us.
As the last of the large fireworks above our heads disappeared into embers, they looked up from their now-dead sparklers. "Has it started yet?" asked the one.