Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 6 November 2015
Born to burn
It obviously wasn't raining in Ambridge last night, because little Henry's hand was burned by a spent sparkler before it had a chance to cool down when he picked it up from the ground. You only have to turn your back for a moment, and - just as Rob predicted - this sort of thing is bound to happen. Helen's confinement will be even more confined because of the little bastard now.
I used to love the day after bonfire night almost as much as I loved the night itself. I would wander about looking for spent fireworks, and pick them up to sniff the delicious smell of toasted sulphur and salt petre, sometimes taking them indoors to sniff before the rain got to them and they lost their perfume.
My obsession with fireworks lasted for a long time - it is only in the last 5 or 6 years that the magic has gone out of it for me. I even had a job which involved setting them off once. When I was a kid, my excitement was tinged with guilt and worry about panicking birds and animals though, and I put this down to my sister, who could think and talk of little else during displays.
Rather like a municipal display itself, my fascination reached a peak with the largest of arial mortars - the biggest, the loudest, and the ones which took up half of the sky when they reached their zenith and the end of their working lives.
The largest one of these I ever saw was in Amsterdam, and the chrysanthemum bloom hung there for a full 30 seconds before tinkling away to nothing, leaving an almost nuclear mushroom-cloud in its place which hung there for another 5 minutes. That must have been a 30 incher.
I started off with coloured matches - remember those? I loved them. One of the strangest things I have learned about fireworks is how they make the whistles. You would think that the whistle comes from the gasses being forced through an actual whistle, wouldn't you? In fact, the noise comes from burning aspirin.