Every Bonfire Night when I was a child, we used to have a “Street Bonfire Party”. During the day we would huddle together in our neighbours garage and make a Guy Fawkes. We loved to hold the Guy between us as we walked up and down the street shouting, “Penny for a Guy!” We didn’t mind if we were actually given any pennies- it was just for fun- but our mums, dads and neighbours never begrudged giving us a few pennies or even pounds to add to our enjoyment of the tradition.
That night we would wrap up extra warm- tights under our jeans, three layers on top, as well as a warm coat, hat, scarf, gloves and, of course, ear muffs! A bonfire was lit and though we were told the safety rules of not going close to the fire, we were still afforded the luxury of running around it, feeling the blazing heat upon us. Obviously, we knew that us children were actually the safest around the bonfire- it was the drunk adults at the end of the night who were most at risk of falling off their chair into the roaring fire – not us nimble footed young ones.
Before we left our house to walk down to the bottom field, where the festivities would take place, we always made a final check that our cat, Tinker was safe inside, she would curl up under one of the beds as the mysterious bangs and crackles began.
Money from every household was collected and put towards bright, inviting boxes of fireworks and sparklers.
We kept warm eating hot, homemade soup, I can remember our green soup bowls, full of french onion soup.
When it was dark enough, I felt a little worried for which ever adult was going to light the fireworks (especially if it was my own dad). The Public Safety adverts of the 1970’s and 80’s had a long lasting effect on me and I worried if they would get would get away from the lit firework before it shot into the sky or not. They always did thankfully. There was the occasional disappointment when a firework did not go off. All the mums shouted at the dads reminding them not to return to the “dud” just in case.
Once I saw the adult was safe, I could enjoy the pretty fireworks, “Ooh-ing” and “Aah-ing” and jumping at the big bangs.
Then it was time for sparklers. Again, due to the advert below, I was a bit scared, but I kept to the safety rules and excitement overcome my nerves. I loved the sweet burning smell and the sizzling sound as we wrote our names in the black sky.
Despite my many layers of clothes, the hot soup warming my belly and the heat from the fire on my skin, by the end of the night I still felt freezing and couldn’t wait to get home to cuddle Tinker, put my pyjamas on and climb into my cosy bed with a hot water bottle.
How did you used to celebrate Bonfire Night? Nowadays I prefer going to an organised display, but I have really happy memories of our Street Parties.