Bonfire Night – a true story/narrative about an event in my life as a young girl
Every year on a certain night, we would host a bonfire in our yard. My father would collect all kinds of debri and pile it into a large mountainous collection of all-sorts, a variety of everything and anything that looked like it might burn.
I’ll never forget the excitement of one particular night, when little embers sky-born, ascended to the heavens, like fireflies, and my stomach did turns like somersaults in a state of sheer abandon. Nothing can adequately describe the enjoyment I felt, of being an ‘almost invisible’ spectator in the dark, the comforting sound of familiar voices of grown up friends, so soothing was the chatter over drinks and shivers.
I was small, possibly up to your thigh, with very short hair, rather pixie-boyish I’d say. Outside in the yard, was ‘my place’. I spent a great deal of time out there, observing nature and losing myself in spinning around and daydreaming for hours, I was in my element watching the silver and gold chrysalis’s develop into butterflies and smelling the pretty smells of gardens in flower, watching the white cabbage butterflies flit to and fro, helping to dig up crops of deranged looking carrots, and watching tomatoes grow on the vine, enjoying that certain zingy smell the plant gives off. My first photo was of a ripe red tomato on the green grass, a wonderful composition (or so I thought at the ripe old age of 5) however, it was rather disappointing to receive the photograph, which showed a tiny red dot in the centre of the image, compared to what I’d seen through the viewfinder…a large, luscious juicy mother of a tomato! I’ve always been an observer, and my father fostered that in me, as did my mother’s father.
Bonfire Night was one of those nights of the year that was every bit as exciting for me as Christmas Eve. On Bonfire Night I slept well, exhausted from the fun and interaction of so many people. On Christmas Eve I slept very poorly, from too much excitement and the possibility ever-present that I might just see Santa (which I did on two occasions!)
We had a wonderful lead-up with pin-wheels squeeling in circular-crazed-spins, the fireworks were tremendously beautiful and ever-so-dangerous. It was exhilarating. Dad was the chief firework lighter and always had a cigarette planted snugly between his ears and noggin’… sometimes, one planted on each side of his head. Often seen with one sticking to his lower lip, and a great wad of ash hanging from it, as he ‘worked on things’ with grave concentration. A fascinating fellow.
On one particular Bonfire Night, I was so dazzled by something so spectacular that I’ve never ever ever forgotten it. My father decided to do something very dangerous and daring…he was just like that. A little bit different. He was also a champion egg thrower in the Guinness Book of Records for a while….champion at a lot of things, and my hero in many ways…a lifesaver, an animal lover, an eccentric, loved by many.
I remember being told, under no circumstances, must anyone ever ever do what he was about to do….and I had no idea what was going to happen next, so you can imagine my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw him take a swig of petrol or kerosene, or whatever it was (some kind of flammable liquid) and blow it into the sky, while lighting it on fire!!!!! It was a spectacular sight. He did an incredible job of entertaining the crowd, and we were all quite in awe of him, especially me. Looking back, I’m so relieved nothing went wrong, or his very handsome face might not still be with us to admire.