Remember, Remember, The Fifth Of November, The Gunpowder Treason And Plot…
Of course our school teachers taught us the history behind Guy Fawkes Night – how he was captured in an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and executed – but as children, November 5th meant only one thing. Bonfire night – with fireworks on the side!
Oh, the excitement when Dad came home brandishing a brand new blue box of Brock’s Fireworks. I can see it all in my mind’s eye; my breath puffing in front of me like dragon’s breath in the dark frosty night, the damp air heavy with the scent of rotting leaves and chimney smoke. Dad places the rockets in empty milk bottles and pins Catherine wheels to the trunk of the lilac tree before setting them off in a burst of colour. And don’t forget the sparklers! Oh no, don’t forget that explosion of golden stars in your hands.
Then joining neighbours for a bonfire in the street, and next morning, us kids scouring for spent fireworks to see if we could relight them. (Thank goodness Health and Safety wasn’t around in those days. They would have spoiled all the fun.)
But one of the most magical Guy Fawkes nights I remember was exactly ten years ago on the Isle of Arran. Standing on the beach, with the bonfire roaring behind us, we looked across the 20 mile stretch of black water to the Ayrshire coastline as tiny prickles of colour – blue and red and silver and green and gold – sizzled to north and south as far as the eye could see.
Magic. Pure magic.