River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2002

As bonfire night becomes firework night, the celebrations turn to commercialism

Hello again,

"Remember, remember the Fifth of November is gunpowder treason and plot.I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.Knock at the door, ring the bell. Have you got a penny for singing so well?If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do. If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!"

So goes the old rhyme we used to sing in my youth. But I have recently begun to wonder whether or not this event was now an anachronism. Every year, it seems to me, numerous people receive injuries from the fireworks, adults and children alike.

A hundred, or even fifty, years ago a bonfire and firework display was a community celebration. The fireworks were simple, safe and extremely limited in scope; after all, who could afford more than a few sparklers and bangers? Today, fireworks have become complex and un-safe and the event has been turned into a huge moneymaking spectacular. What was just a bonfire with a short firework display has now become an enormous conflagration with a display that seems to last for hours.

Then there is the terror caused to animals by the banging and flashing of fireworks. Last year I noted literally dozens of spent fireworks down on the common, not twenty yards from the horses stabled there. Did anyone give a thought to the horses or to the risk of setting fire to the hay? Closer to home, our animals spend the nights either side of November 5th huddled in fear under beds and sofas or they simply sit trembling with fright as one bang succeeds another. Needless to say, we have signed the petition against fireworks!

There is now supposed to be a limit on the sale of fireworks to one week prior to the event. Not many shops take note of this advice. I have seen fireworks on sale since the beginning of October. So this year, please do give a thought to the animals when you celebrate the burning of Guy Fawkes!

Ray Thompson

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