Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Remember Remember the Fifth of November

Bonfire night. A celebration of a foiled plot to blow up Houses of Parliament, and we do this by...setting off fireworks! An intriguing tradition if you think about it, a free reign to act as roaming pyromaniacs for the night. It's not like we celebrate catching murderers by....well killing things.
As a kid, I loved Bonfire Night. One my favourite days of the year. I used to love making a 'Guy' to burn on the bonfire - usually raiding my dad's wardrobe for clothes to dress the Guy up in (often without permission). A strange tradition really, teaching kids to burn effigies on fires. One year I collected a load of  clothes and then thought it would be funnier to dress up in my dad's clothes and pretend to be him all afternoon instead. Luckily I didn't end up on the bonfire. 

One infamous bonfire night, my dad was letting off fireworks in our back garden. In my parents' infinite wisdom, they had planted a huge tree in the middle of the lawn (ruining most games and other jollies), so finding the right spot to set off fireworks wasn't always easy. Now, my dad, full of the joys of the occasion, had had one or two shandies before the firework festivities. Not really recommended. We used to have a children's plastic slide in the garden. Dad had a brain wave. So that all of us could see the fireworks properly, he would put the firework on top of the plastic slide, elevating the view, and set it off from there.

I am no science expert, but even I know plastic and fire don't always go well together. Dad set the firework off and it proceeded to set the slide on fire. He of course, was watching our faces up at the house and we were all shouting and pointing at the slide - which he took for a sign that we were enjoying the show. Luckily he soon noticed, the pungent smell of burnt plastic that now engulfed the Cardiff suburbs sky, was probably a give away. He had burnt a large hole in the slide. It had that wonderful melted plastic consistency - a bit like Michael Jackson's face if he stood too closely to a spotlight. The slide was never replaced, and remained a childhood staple for years; I used to get my leg trapped down it on regular occurrences. I think dad was secretly proud of this burnt monument - a testament to his skills as an firework entertainer.

Of course this November 5th, we wake up to a new President in America. Despite what some think, it matters very much here. We breath a collective sigh of relief as we welcome Obama into the Presidency, although part of me (the sadistic part) will miss Palin's Pearls (of Wisdom).

Although I approach the euphoria with a wary heart; it is not that dissimilar to the hype surrounding Tony Blair in 1997, and with all the emotion after that incredible night when New Labour finally ended 18 years of Tory rule, it does feel now rather a let down. But let's hope Obama can change some things around. He will be a breath of fresh air. Good luck to him.

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