We don’t usually do fireworks in the garden but we have endured for years the inconsideration of a certain neighbour who, it seems, thinks it is acceptable to launch industrial strength rockets, from his postage stamp sized back garden, in the general direction of our house, regardless of prevailing weather conditions. Such is the need for this particular neighbour to prove how fabulous he is, on many a Guy Fawkes night he has shown total disregard and lack of respect for the village recreation group and has timed his private display to run at the same time as the village display, often drowning it out due to the size, strength and number of fireworks at his disposal.
As the still burning detritus created by this display plummeted back to earth on all sides of our house, Mud and I have often sat in bemused horror, worrying over the potential damage to shed roofs, greenhouses, insect netting and latterly, Land Rover tilts and we know that our aged, partially sighted neighbour has endured many a fright, as the 3 foot long spikes these fireworks are mounted on, impact onto her windows and roof.
It’s not that we object to private displays as such but rather that we feel that these displays should be carefully considered and be planned on how big your garden is and where any debris is likely to fall. Also, consideration needs to be given to when you hold your display, especially in built up areas. After 7.30pm on a school night, for example, is just plain inconsiderate, particularly if you are intending to launch a succession of NASA style missiles from your back lawn and you know that your immediate neighbours have young children who may well be in bed. Furthermore, and this year is a good example of this next point, most people with pets could reasonably be expecting fireworks to happen either on the 5th itself which was Wednesday or this weekend and will have planned their animal care around these dates, ensuring cats and dogs are inside, hutches are protected etc etc. Yet a few thoughtless individuals will (and have) set fireworks off any time during the week before and probably right up to Christmas.
That said, this year Mud decided that as our village display was to be held at the weekend (tonight in fact) and not during the week, for once he would buy a few fireworks for the Mudlets to enjoy. However, unlike our neighbour, the fireworks Mud chose would not be rockets of any sort because even though we have a decent sized back garden, we are still surrounded by neighbours and we felt rockets just weren’t appropriate for all the reasons listed above. So, instead, he purchased two small boxes of fountain style fireworks, 40 in all costing not very much money at all.
Way back when Little Mudlet was just a couple of weeks old, Middle Mudlet was 2 and Eldest Mudlet was still at home, we started a new tradition which we have more or less continued each Guy Fawkes since then, unless Mud is working away. Not long before Little Mudelt was born, we had taken delivery of the little caravan which is now Muds’ home office and back then it was still fitted out with cushioned seats, little gas stove and hob and could be plugged into the electric.
That particular year, the village display was to be held on the 5th but as Middle Mudlet was still very young and even then couldn’t cope with loud noises (she has since been diagnosed with Hyperacusis) and obviously Little Mudlet was far too new to be taken to such an event, we decided that we would ‘camp’ out and have hot dogs and tomato soup whilst watching the display, or the parts/rockets we could see, from the warmth and security of the back garden. With the old black and white portable TV plugged into the caravan mains and a fuzziness of picture reminiscent of the 1960s, we spent an enjoyable evening together oohing and aahing at the beautiful rockets that were sent heavenwards from the organised display.
These were the days before the houses at the back were occupied, where we could sit out in our garden (or in the caravan) and walk back and forth to the house without fear of burning debris or 3 foot long wooden spikes falling on us.
It is a memory that those of us who were old enough at the time to remember, look back at fondly and smile.
So this year, with Muds’ carefully chosen, discreet fireworks bought, the weather holding fine for us with the merest breeze and no rain, we wrapped ourselves up snuggly and the Mudlets and I took our places beneath the Gazebo as Mud took charge of the firework lighting. On the well cover, the Halloween pumpkins were once again lit, offering a surprising amount of light from their spooky faces and the lantern glittered on the table. Over the course of an hour, hot soup and hotdogs were consumed and the Mudlets faces beamed as fountain after fountain and the occasional roman candle whizzed and popped, a carefully measured safe distance from where we were. Only one firework proved to be a dud and with the help of a very long armed pair of barbeque tongs, was deposited into the bucket of water placed nearby. No errant pieces of flaming firework found their way into a neighbours garden or onto their roof, only the minimum amount of crackling, whizzing and the occasional wheeze could be heard and the whole thing was done and dusted by 7pm.
With the smallest amount of fuss and expense, yet another priceless childhood memory has been created for the youngest Mudlets and now that they are both much older than when we held that first hotdogs and tomato soup evening, a new taste and smell association has been added to the toasted marshmallow one, not to mention that which is the distinctive aroma of a Land Rover diesel engine.