We need to talk about fireworks, specifically Bonfire night fireworks. Now I am not against them. I like a good fireworks display as much as the next person. BUT… In Britain we have a problem concerning fireworks and Bonfire night. I am referring here to private displays, or rather, the conduct of the people mounting these displays and the type of fireworks being put to use.
Last night, which was the fourth and therefore not Bonfire night, I was subjected to a barrage of what I can only describe as noise. This wasn’t brief, or a few minutes, or even just a little bit at a time. It was continuous and lasted from around half past seven till just around eleven. It was like someone was dropping artillery on me for three and a half hours. The fireworks, which were mostly coming from somewhere behind, were all extremely loud, some of them so loud that they shook the entire house. A cursory glance out of the window revealed that many of these fireworks were all noise and no sparkle. They were little more than large rockets with a bit of glitter added. This, to me, is not the point of a firework. A firework should not be about the noise it makes but about the sparkle, about the fizz, about lighting up the sky in a brief moment of colourful spectacle.
What was going on was not appropriate behaviour from whoever was setting those fireworks off. For a start, on a personal level, I have something called noise sensitivity. This basically means loud noises affect me in ways they don’t for other people. Loud noises upset me more than they should and there are times when I have difficulty coping with them. Last night was borderline, but I was almost over the edge. I live, much to my chagrin, in an overcrowded suburb of Greater Manchester. There are a lot of houses all crammed into a tiny area and I can’t have been the only one who was annoyed or affected by them in some way. The elderly? Babies? There must be over a thousand people living within the noise range of those fireworks and I would say that a significant number were affected by this three and a half hour barrage.
Within a suburban area, such as this one, letting off explosives is a really bad idea. Most of the houses round here have small gardens and are really, really close together. This, I don’t need to tell you, increases the chance of an accident happening, increases the chance of someone getting hurt. This problem doesn’t occur if there is plenty of space, say if you have a big garden or a paddock in the countryside. In a crowded suburban area it is not advisable.
The behaviour exhibited by the people letting off those fireworks last night was completely out of order. It was demonstrative of something I am noticing more and more in British society and that is a lack of respect and consideration for other people. An enormously selfish attitude has begun to pervade and where it has come from I do not know. It isn’t just limited to people setting off fireworks, it’s in pretty much every aspect of life now, but at this time of year fireworks are the most prevalent example. This lack of respect is, in the case of a functional civilisation, fatally toxic and something that must be eradicated.
So what to do about these fireworks? As I say, I am not against them, but if you are going to set them off at least be considerate towards other people. Limit the amount of fireworks you set off. A quick, five or ten minute display should be more than enough. You don’t need to spend five hundred pounds to have a nice display, nor have it last for three and a half hours. Moderation is a boon. Do not buy fireworks that make a lot of noise either. Nobody is impressed by a loud bang so go for ones that are going to be more showy than explodey. They do exist. The same instruction should also be given to the manufacturers (for they are at fault for making the damn things) and by not buying the louder fireworks they will get eventually get the message. Be aware of your environment as well. Fireworks need a lot of space and if you live in a suburban estate with a lot of small gardened houses, packed tightly together, reconsider. If you can, find somewhere with a lot of room where you can set your fireworks off without them impacting other people. If this is not possible and you still want fireworks there are more than enough public displays about and by attending them you’re also showing your community spirit and not being a selfish prig. It will even, at the end of the day, cost you less than a private display.
Finally, keep it to the fifth. There is no excuse for letting off fireworks on other days. Bonfire night is the fifth and there is a reason for that. We all know why it is so let’s not pretend that I need to reiterate the reason here. It is a reason that people, alas, seem to be forgetting and they’re now just using the fifth as an excuse to let off a shit ton of fireworks. It is not about the fireworks. If fireworks did not exist this day still would. We need, as a society, to take Bonfire Night back to its roots.
By following the advice I give above, by being safe, by being respectful and considerate towards other people and remembering the real meaning of bonfire night, we can all, I am sure, be much happier and safer.