Remember, Remember: Bonfire Night in November
KABOOM BOOM POW! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE……! The soundtrack to every fifth of November. A booming orchestra conducting explosions of wild colour that illuminate the landscape with a chandelier of shooting stars. Love is in the air as excitable fireworks kiss the sky in an outrageously exuberant exhibition of public affection, swiftly followed by a cacophony of over-zealous whistles that plummet, losing energy, in a diminuendo, towards the muddy ground. Luminous sparks evaporate into darkness, leaving a silence so tangible that it tingles. A silence which holds its breath in anticipation of the next burst of animation.
The creative joys of sparklers. A fizzy thirty seconds of light that is magic-wand fabulous. First names, declarations of love and never-ending whirlpools are inked onto the night sky with sparkling calligraphy that is punctuated with gold dust and giggles. Well-meaning adults urge their children to take care in their sternest voices; an ironic smile playing on their lips as they hear themselves repeating the same tired words of caution used by their own parents, who always seemed intent on dampening their fun. Memories of long gone November nights resurface with electric nostalgia then dissolve into wisps of smoke.
Of course, Bonfire Night wouldn’t be Bonfire Night without a proper bonfire. We’re not just talking about a cosy log fire here. No, a real bonfire must be skyscraper tall topped with a scarecrow-like effigy of that sneaky little plotter who is famous for all the wrong reasons. The fire is warm, wise. It glows a humble orange-red that is steady and sage, unexcited but content, like granddad sitting in an armchair watching the grandchildren with a satisfied smile on his face. The air is laced with gunpowder; a woody smoke with a sharp edge that feels heavy in the nostrils. Thick knit gloves are inseparable as they attempt to generate extra warmth through the customary rubbing together of hands. Not that anyone is feeling particularly chilly next to the snap crackle and pop bonfire, but the gesture seems appropriate.
Line up your marshmallows and prepare them for punishment à la Fawkes. Gunpowder, treason and spike them into that bonfire. Watch them burn, baby, burn as they succumb to the sizzle only to melt into sticky sweet clouds that tickle the tongue and tease the fingers with their gluey residue. Sins are celebrated this night so toffee apples, gingerbread, sticky toffee pudding and hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream and toasted marshmallows are go!
Bonfire night is BIG and beautiful. Shine shine shine. But remember, remember…