Sunday, November 7, 2010
We went to a school fireworks display - first sugar, bouncing castles, face painting, sausages, cake stalls and hordes of children lost and found. When it got dark out came the glow sticks and sparklers. Helping my son with his sparkler I smelt my own childhood.
Fireworks came in May. I know it was May because I went to the local park with our neighbours for cracker night when my mother went off to hospital to have my brother. I was nine.
Perhaps the following year we went to family friends who lived in a big old mansion house with a gracious wooden verandah and huge front lawn. It was divided into flats for the medical staff at the hospital. A bunch of well paid, exuberant young doctors and fireworks? I remember the show going on and on and the next day combing the rambling garden for the paper parachutes that floated down with spent rockets.
I've just looked it up and apparently May 24 was Empire Day established in 1905 in far more patriotic times. We knew it as Cracker Night. Sky rockets, poh-hahs, Roman candles, Catherine wheels.
Fireworks are tightly controlled in Australia - banned from sale or controlled by permit in all but the far Northern Territory. They'll catch up and eventually ban them too I suppose. I always thought that was a good idea and as the mother of two boys who will grow up to be foolhardy young men I should think that even more.
But big stylish expensive New Year's displays are not the same. After sitting with a couple of hundred families sighing in unison at the sight above and watching the smoke drift across the sky as the last spark went out, I felt sad the tradition's been lost.
In New Zealand they've limited the sale period to four days. A firework shopping frenzy. Apparently Wah Lee in the city is THE place to shop. No doubt people set things on fire, burn themselves and scare cats and dogs into corners.
I only hope that nobody ignored the fire service warning.
"Read and understand the instructions before use.
Read them by torchlight, not a naked flame."
Good advice indeed...
By the way if your child is one that asks questions then go here - the image is from there too. A lot of their questions answered at the click of a mouse. I love the www.