Why it’s time to ban fireworks – Kevan Christie

To Bonfire Night and news has reached me of a cunning plot by a supermarket giant, who shall remain nameless, to finally rid the nation of the great firework menace.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 27th October 2019, 4:37 pm
Fireworks may look pretty, but the effect of loud explosions on the animal world is too serious to overlook (Picture: Daniel Keuck/iStockphoto/Getty)
Fireworks may look pretty, but the effect of loud explosions on the animal world is too serious to overlook (Picture: Daniel Keuck/iStockphoto/Getty)

The move by Sainsbury’s to ban the explosive devices in all 2,300 of their stores has been met with outpourings of joy, not seen since the Queen’s Silver Jubilee of 1977 which came with a limited edition coin.

Members of the wider horse-and-hound-owning community up and down this great land have been cracking open the Pomagne in celebration as realisation dawns that someone has finally thrown them a bone.

Hot on the heels of being allowed into Edinburgh’s libraries, the dugs themselves are rejoicing that they might be free to hone their new-found reading skills in peace of an evening, without the persistent sound of explosions making the place feel like downtown Aleppo.

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Firework displays can involve huge amounts of explosive material (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Sitting in their favourite armchair, next to a roaring fire with a large whisky by their side, the mutts can engross themselves in the new Dan Brown or such like – as loyal owners prepare them something tasty for a late supper.

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For this firework malarkey has gone on for too long, dear reader, and frankly feels a bit played oot – time to draw a line under it perhaps in favour of a gentle, light-show projection.

It’s a carry on that belongs in the past and in my book is fast achieving “piece of nonsense” status.

A UK-wide petition to ban the public sale of fireworks to protect animals, children and people with a phobia attracted more than 300,000 signatures. Campaigners in Scotland have called for action to end the “misery” caused by fireworks after 94 per cent of 16,000 people who responded to a consultation wanted tighter controls on sales of the blasted things.

Firefighters ambushed

An outright ban would mean fire crews could get back to playing table tennis, safe in the knowledge that they’re not going to be called out to the Barrios where the local urchins prepare to ambush them with bricks and mortars.

Last year in Glasgow, officers from Poileas Alba had fireworks thrown at them by a group of 40 masked youths and the Scottish SPCA reported dogs running on to roads and being hit by oncoming traffic, swans flying into electricity pylons, and horses being badly injured after running through barbed wire fences.

Absolute carnage.

But despite this slaughter of the innocents, the glorious leaders of the City of Embra cooncil are still of the view that there is no occasion too small that cannot be improved by the simple addition of a massive amount of explosives.

They love the old fireworks at the council, in fact they love them so much they’ve given them their own month – August – where hardy locals and their terrified dugs endure a daily diet of controlled detonations, thus ensuring that every visitor to the Festival goes home with a bang.

Anyone past the age of 30 who has grown up in the Capital probably can’t stand the sight of the things.

Weddings are another arena where fireworks are now prevalent – fortunes are spent on the inevitable dreary show that takes three hours to set up and is then watched through the prism of a mobile phone camera for the all-important social media pics – but with no guarantee of future happiness. Till death do us part.

However, don’t get me wrong – I’m not hating on Halloween or Bonfire Night despite struggling to tell them apart and the Americanisation of the former is annoying but no deal-breaker as those from the US might say. I have fond memories of guising, where we sung a song and got some dosh, dooking for apples and those nuts you could never crack open, before watching horror movies around this time of year. The original Halloween, starring Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis with a John Carpenter score that was scarier than the film itself, was memorable, but doesn’t lay a glove on The Omen which led me to sleep with the light on until the age of 26.

“Damien, look at me – I’m over here,” as the nanny says before... well you’ll just have to watch it now.

Midnight raids

No, Halloween (not the movie) is great for the kids and I stress the kids here, not those adults who take the opportunity to practice their costume play by dressing up as Amsterdam sex workers for a fancy dress party which is inevitably held the week before the 31 October. Give yourselves a Charlie Drake.

I have fond memories of Bonfire Night as well although some of these are vicariously lived through my mate who has regaled me over the years with tales of midnight raids on rival schemes to steal their precious ‘bonnie wood’ for the November 5 spectacle.

Sentries were placed on guard with the reputation of the area riding on the size of their bonfire.

Growing up in a ‘bought hoose’ in the leafier parts of Craigentinny, I wasn’t privy to such fun and regret missing out on the whole Bonnie Night experience before stoning the fire brigade became the norm.

Come to think of it we weren’t that big on the old fireworks in the Christie family home either and any suggestion of going to Meadowbank Stadium for their annual display was completely out of the question.

My old man, who was managing Meadowbank Thistle FC at the time, dreaded the event which left his precious playing surface in tatters and would wince every time he heard a rocket going off. Whoosh – there goes another divot.

I seem to remember a lot of warnings around this time of year and government information films telling children of the dangers of fireworks and the potential they carried to take your eye out. A playground full of mini Moshe Dayan’s was the last thing anyone wanted. So, forget Brexit and all this talk of 31 October deadlines folks, there are far more pressing damp squibs that we need to attend to first.