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By Vivienne Telfor


The time between getting home from school, and Dad finishing his tea, seemed endless, but the skies eventually darkened. Then my brother and I, woollied up to the eyes, were allowed to set fire to the pile of garden refuse that served as our bon-fire. When it was blazing away, which could take a lot of time and expertise, it would crackle and splutter sending sparks dangerously high in the air. It needed constant poking and prodding with various garden tools, or it deteriorated into an evil smelling black smoking pyre. By it's light, the box of fireworks would be opened.

We kids were only allowed to touch the Sparklers, they lasted for ages. We soon discovered we could move our hands through the sparks without getting burned. Man would stop the fun if she caught us, and scare us with tales about people who'd touched the red hot point in the centre.

Dad was in sole charge of the box, a few Jumping Jacks, a couple of Catherine Wheels, which usually refused to spin round, after being nailed to the fence. Rockets could be temperamental as well, either failing completely to leave their milk bottle base, or only rising a few inches. One consolation, we could see other people's Rockets streaking up higher than the rooftops, and enjoy then for nothing.

The rest would be an assortment of little bundles with tantalising names on their labels. Golden Glory, White Whizzer, Roman Candle, Blue Flash, Silver Fountain. Our eyes never left the beautiful spectacle, in case we missed a single moment. Some lasted only a few seconds, before dying. Our Oohs and Aahs would change to disappointed groans.

At some point, Man would bring out baked potatoes in their Jackets, butter oozing everywhere. And hot Bovril that warned your hands but scalded your mouth.

The dog would take the chance to get out, racing around and Jumping up at us in his excitement. Barking each time a banger went off, even if it was streets away.

When the fire burned away to a pile of smouldering ash, and the fireworks box was empty, it was time to go inside. We didn't mind because we would notice, for the first time, that it was very cold outside, and the kitchen was warm. It welcomed us in, grubby paws, smelly clothes and all.


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