Editor's Comment: Bonfire Night comes but once a year
PUBLISHED: 10:32 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:02 06 October 2016
Not alot gets Cotswold Life's editor Mike Lowe hot under the collar, just don't mention firework displays outside of Guy Fawkes night!
I like to think that I’m an easy-going kind of chap. These days, very little reduces me to red-mist rage – apart from poor grammar on the BBC (It’s FEWER, not LESS); those people who buy a selection of lottery scratchcards and then stand at the till scraping away while I queue behind them; and the quite baffling actions of dog owners who pick up their pet’s mess and then hang the bag on a tree or hedge. (Who do they think then disposes of it? The Poo Fairy?)
I’m ambivalent about country sports. I used to shoot, but got fed up a few years ago with the banker-financed excesses of some big corporate shoots. When you’re taken down to the duck pond just to make up the promised bag, then you know it’s time to call it a day. As for hunting, I’m quite happy to get splinters in my backside by sitting on the fence. I have no problem whatsoever with drag-hunting. It’s the ‘accidental fox’ that causes the occasional pause for thought.
Nor am I prejudiced. Some of my best friends are vegetarians, although they do tend to be the sort who can’t resist the lure of a bacon sandwich or a Friday night takeaway. (‘Fishandchipocrits’, I call them.) I do draw the line at vegans, though. That can’t be healthy. (Have you heard of the latest anti-food fad? It’s called Level 5 Veganism and its followers won’t eat anything that casts a shadow. No, really. So that’s a turnip and swede diet then. Good luck with that.)
On the roads, I’m now more of a benign bumbler than a boy racer. The new car I’ve just bought has more functions than a small spaceship, so I hardly need to drive it at all. Perhaps that’s why the middle-lane mouth-breathers, the ignorant queue-jumpers and the pump-up-the-volume youths who want to share their taste in bad music with the rest of the world no longer bother me any more.
But there is one thing, ONE THING, up with which I will not put. And that’s the indiscriminate use of pyrotechnics at inappropriate times of the year. On Saturday, November 5, we will celebrate an attempt by Guy Fawkes and his motley crew to blow up the Houses of Parliament by letting off a vast array of expensive fireworks. That’s Saturday, November 5 – not the week before and not the week after. One night only. Done.
The situation is simplified this year as the big day occurs on a weekend, but previous years have seen the night air rent with all sorts of bangs and flashes seemingly from the end of September until mid-February. (Note that I do not approve of New Year’s Eve fireworks either. When did this become a thing? When I were a lad, my Dad used to go out of the back door clutching a piece of coal and then come back in through the front door. That, with the exception on Andy Stewart singing ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers?’ on a flickering black and white telly, was the extent of our celebrations.)
I don’t particularly begrudge the thrill children get from a fireworks display. It’s just that it plays absolute havoc with the dogs. As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, I have two - a lurcher and a whippet. The lurcher was allegedly the semi-offspring of a gundog so should be immune to loud bangs. Not so. He retreats under the nearest piece of furniture the minute someone lights a sparkler. I was truly sold a pup in that case. The whippet? Well, he’s a whippet. He just runs round shaking while wearing one of my T-shirts, worrying that the world is about to end and wondering where will his next meal will come from.
I can cope with this mayhem once a year, but no more than that. And so I’ll be patrolling the village with a bucket of water and the kind of neighbourly attitude displayed by Mr Hodges in Dad’s Army.
I was going to write about another custom that has expanded exponentially – that of TV presenters wearing Remembrance poppies ridiculously early – but my friend, the curmudgeonly Mr Edwards, has snaffled that subject, so I’ll just settle for my ticket in the office sweepstake. I’ve got October 28. How about you?
For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor