Friday 5 November 2010

Remember, remember

Today is my favourite day of the year to be in England. It is the 5th of November, in all it's crackling and sparkling glory. It even erupted early, with bangs and pops being heard last night and twinkling colours to be seen through the trees in my neighbourhood.

Ah! Bonfire night!

If you try to explain this delightful day to someone from abroad, it is inevitably met with puzzled faces. My explanation usually involves jokes about eccentric Brits celebrating catching the first terrorists and then, true to the times, killing them in a violent and over-the-top manner. Swings and roundabouts and fireworks, it seems.

Anyway, the result, now nothing to do with saving democracy, religious freedom or any other controversial and over politicised topic of our times, is pure human joy: colours, fire and excitement. We have been drawn to fire since the beginning of time; it's danger outweighed by the warmth, food and light it provides. If you put a group of people in a circle, they will probably start conversing. Then stick a fire in the middle of them, and their eyes will fixate on the dancing flames and the only sound you will hear is the crackling and popping.

This is why Bonfire night is special. Because while keeping us warm on this autumnal night, our eyes are drawn skyward to the spectacular of lights and colours which explode among the stars. Our faces and hands are warmed on the ground and our eyes and hearts filled with magic from the sky. Each explosion is another beat of wonder: crescendos of colour, fiery flowers, paintings of diamonds and emeralds and rubies. And we make those collective sounds of appreciation and marvel at each new burst of stars. While the fire is singular and solitary, the fireworks blanket everyone together in their spectacular of glitter.

"Ooooh! Ahhhhh!"

You could take Christmas away from me, and I might not notice (apart from the fact shops weren't telling me Happy Christmas in October); Easter could disappear and I wouldn't miss the eggs which line the shelves from New Year. You might even be able to get away with erasing my birthday (quietly, quietly), but if you took away Bonfire Night; if there was not one explosion waking up the night in silver and red, gold and blue, I might just have to get some gunpowder myself and finish the job planned in 1605.

I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should EVER be forgot.

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