First off, I apologise for the lack of blogging. I’ve gone NaNoWriMo mental and done 31,000 words in six days.
Second, my life has involved Heston barking at a sieve, Heston barking at the wind, rain, mushroom hunting, writing, Heston barking at people who shake sticks at him, Heston eating table mats, Heston eating another book, Heston eating my lipstick and me making cheese toasties. Oh, and more mushroom hunting.
Third, last night we went to a bonfire night that had four fireworks. I make it sound worse than it was, because there was quite a big bonfire (which didn’t last very long) and the French don’t understand Bonfire Night, and why should they? I’d be mad if some Frenchman lit fireworks round my house on 14th July if I were back in England. Also, there was chili and baked potatoes which kind of made up for the lack of toffee apples and parkin. Next year, I’m doing Bonfire Night at my house and believe me, even if I don’t have a bonfire, I’ll be having parkin and toffee apples.
Anyhow, I realised last night that I have been traumatised and I have a few bones to pick with various members of my family over this. I should explain that with more than a fair share of nurses and firefighters in the family, there’s always been more than a fair share of horror stories about Bonfire Night chez LJ.
1. If you don’t have your jeans over your wellies, a firework could go in and blow your toes off.
Can I just ask if anyone knows anyone who had this happen to them (and Madame V, I’m perfectly aware of YOUR horror story, thanks) that they let me know. Because I think in the scale of possibilities, you are more likely to have a mushroom fall on your head and kill you.
2. You shouldn’t wear flammable materials and stand near a bonfire. Self-explanatory, I’d have thought, and sage advice. I would like to draw your attention therefore to exhibit number 1.
This is my little brother Alastair. He is probably two and a few months. I reckon it’s Bonfire Night 1981. Can I just point out several things.
a. He is wearing what appears to be some kind of shimmery nylon fabric that would go off like a dragon if ignited.
b. His boots are clearly outside of his pants and therefore the likelihood of a firework going down there and blowing his little feet off is quite likely, according to my family.
Not very responsible parenting, is it? Feed a child with horror stories and then dress them inappropriately in flammable clothes.
3. Many, many people have their hands blown off by fireworks. Well, I tend to notice hands more than the average person, and get into talking points with people about how they lost digits. No-one has ever said – EVER – that their hands blew off with a firework. People saw them off, cut them off, trap them in things, have diseases and illnesses, but nobody has ever said ‘I never listened to my uncles and avoided fireworks as I should have done’. DIY clearly causes more bodily injuries than fireworks, yet my uncles are ALWAYS doing DIY.
4. Many, many people get their faces burned off by fireworks. Having spent some time in Booth Hall Children’s hospital in Manchester as a child, I was petrified of two things. One was all the yellow children in there. I thought I’d turn yellow if I stayed there. Nobody ever thought to tell me about stuff like that. And second was all the burned children in there, whose faces I thought had been blown off by fireworks. Seeing as virtually everyone I know had some kind of open gas fire or other, and a fireguard was all the rage, I suspect that my fears as a child were largely unfounded.
Having filled me with horror stories about the hundreds of people being injured on Bonfire Night, we were then allowed to go to a bonfire with these uncles who’d traumatised us, if they weren’t on duty. As it was, we stood so far back from the bonfire and fireworks that it was almost impossible to see either of them. Next door’s bonfire was closer.
I’d now like to draw your attention to exhibit number 2.
This is me, behind the conifer, wearing the suspicious looking man-made fabrics. My brother appears to be on some kind of scooter behind me. I draw your attention to the look of horror on my face.
I seriously look like someone’s just passed me a bomb, not a sparkler. This reaction is entirely the fault of those uncles’ horror stories, combined with my parents’ devil-may-care attitude towards man-made fabrics. Those mittens have to be made with acrylic wool and would go off like a rocket, leaving me with nothing but burned stumps at the end of my arms. It’s no wonder I’m terrified.
Not only that, but some ‘wit’ (my father?? I can’t imagine my mother would have such a blasé attitude towards children, alcohol, fireworks and flammable fabrics) has photographed Lydia with a lovely pint of what I assume to be beer.
Let’s start with the obvious. Nowadays, people have their children taken into care for such ‘amusing’ mise-en-scenes. It’s no different than the man who got his granny to pose with guns or the man who put a spliff in his baby’s mouth.
Just assuming you are less cynical than me (which is not hard to imagine) you may think Lydia’s drink could well be vimto or blackcurrant juice. Even so. That’s no different than posing with a fake gun. And let me remind you, the police put out a warning yesterday that you could be shot if you brandish a fake weapon.
Clearly, my experiences last night, with only a very small bonfire and very few children, a handful of sparklers and fireworks, awoke deep-seated feelings of terrible trauma.
If you want me, I’ll be down at my therapist’s.