Friday, November 10, 2006
The fireworks are going like mad again even though Bonfire Night was last weekend - they seem to have been going on for weeks because it was Diwali a few weeks before too. I like fireworks - I have fond memories of Bonfire Nights at the top of the garden of some friends. Fireworks and sparklers and hot soup and baked potatoes in the fire and sausages in buns. Until they moved away, anyway. Then we used to go to the public display at St Chads and have chips from Bryan's Chip shop on the way home - my fingers would be freezing because I'd taken my gloves off and the chips would be boiling hot and burn my mouth. And I would tuck one hand round my dad's arm which would keep in a bit warmer.
The bonfire would be built of old branches and old bits of wood or old doors or planks or, I remember one year we burnt an old desk. But before you lit it you would always take the bottom apart a bit to check for hedgehogs who like to snuggle down in the pile of wood and would get burned alive if you didn't scare them away - poor things.
It's amazing how loud and bang-y the fireworks seem to be now. Sometimes when I hear them just for a moment I think it was a bomb - especially living in London, you worry about these things. And I wonder if this is a tiny bit what it was like for my grandparents living through the war. Banging and flashing in the distance if you were lucky - rather closer if you weren't lucky. I wonder if my grandparents ever felt entirely comfortable with the experience of Bonfire Night after the war. I remember my grandma getting rather upset when my brother and I watched whichever James Bond film ends with the massive fight in the submarine bay. My grandma spent at least 2 years of the Second World War without hearing from my grandad who was driving around the Middle East and was injured. I mean, can you imagine that? Not hearing from your husband for over two years and not knowing where he was or how he was? I find it mind-boggling - I have so much respect for the men and women who lived through that time and I am so grateful that I do not have to go through that.
Don't forget tomorrow when at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we will be silent and remember those who did not come home to their families; to their wives, to their children, to their friends.