Helen Martin: My silent protest is starting to be heard

A Scottish SPCA poster warning of the distress caused to pets by fireworks
A Scottish SPCA poster warning of the distress caused to pets by fireworks
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THIS is the time of year when I am so glad I don’t have violent tendencies or possess a gun. If I did, I’d probably be out there attacking locals who, for the rest of the year, I usually get on with very well.

This is firework season, and not just for kids. Judging by the timings of explosions where I live, some of the displays constitute post-dinner party entertainment into the wee small hours.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk might be altogether too milky for Europe

Cadbury's Dairy Milk might be altogether too milky for Europe

We are inside, with TVs and radios going in an attempt to drown out the horrific noise, blinds drawn to shut out the sparks and starbursts, while the dog stands wide-eyed and trembling, unable to eat and too terrified to go out for a pee. God only knows how wildlife copes.

Yes, I’ve written about this before. But it seems that, at last, the bloody nuisance of fireworks is being recognised in various parts of the world, and not just because of the effect on animals.

Those with dementia, nervous conditions and war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress are also victims. And at a time when terrorism is possible just about anywhere, the “cover” of noisy, flashing and explosive fireworks could be a potential threat to public safety or cause unnecessary panic.

The Italian town of Collecchio in Parma has now introduced legislation to permit only silent fireworks made by a firm called Setti.

Collecchio is in an agricultural area and is, therefore, well aware of the devastating impact on animals, from hens producing fewer eggs, to other farm animals becoming stressed, potentially miscarrying or injuring themselves in blind panic at the noise.

Groups in India are now calling for the same laws and reporting on the horrific after-scenes of the Diwali Festival of Light. Not only are farm animals affected but the many street dogs are driven by fright into the paths of cars. Worse, they are caught by yobs who torture them with explosive fireworks.

Some time ago I wrote about Midlothian councillor Adam Montgomery and his bid to introduce some level of control. Well, he’s done it.

Midlothian is now the first council in Scotland to introduce a ban on fireworks or Chinese lanterns being set off from council-owned land unless at an officially organised display. He hopes it is a step towards a ban on public sales and I couldn’t agree with him more. He, too, is concerned about public safety, the increasing number of war veterans experiencing battle-field flashbacks, pets, livestock and wildlife.

He remains my local hero and I only wish we had a few councillors like him on the city council. Even organised displays, including those at the Castle for New Year and as a closing “celebration” on Tattoo nights, should be of the silent variety now compulsory in Collecchio, or limited to laser light shows.

The damage caused is severely under-estimated. My neighbours were once caught up in a terrorist attack in London – they suffer. My husband knows a former RUC officer who resigned and came to the UK to escape – he too suffers from stress here during the unpredictable firework season which runs from summer, through autumn and on to New Year, let alone private celebrations such as birthdays, weddings or anniversaries.

It’s time Edinburgh City Council caught up with Midlothian rather than growing and publicising its own infernal and shocking displays.

A dark future for chocolate

CADBURY may be forced to change its chocolate recipe so that it can still sell to Europe following Brexit. It will have to up its cocoa content and produce an altogether darker version that complies with the European definition of true “chocolate”.

Well some of their sales might go down the pan, literally. There are many for whom dark chocolate is the equivalent of a vindaloo. (Actually I can consume a roaring hot curry or chilli dish with no effect but dark chocolate? Well, let’s not go there.)

When visiting friends in the States, we were begged to bring over as much Cadbury’s Dairy Milk as we could accommodate in our baggage allowance. So it’s also an international favourite. And Cadbury’s is now American-owned. How ironic if the UK’s Brexit means compulsory dark Euro chocs for all.

Indy or Brexit? It’s all guesswork

RECLAIMING our own sovereignty, striking our own trade deals and deciding on our own markets, being free to make our own decisions and policies about immigration and other matters, refusing to be dictated to by another government, making our own laws, keeping control over our own currency . . .

Now, what am I talking about – independence or Brexit? It’s amazing how the same questions and issues apply to both and how the arguments for or against either are based almost entirely on opinions and guesswork rather than facts.

There are no facts. Both are uncharted waters because there are no precedents. Nothing becomes “real” until negotiations are complete.

But it does strike me as odd that neither the Scottish nor UK governments have acknowledged the parallels. Independence is our “Brexit”, and Brexit is England/the UK’s “independence”.

Prospects are hair-raising

WHILE watching Hillary on the presidential election coverage I remarked to Himself : “You know that’s quite a nice haircut for a woman of my age – I might try it.”

His face went ashen as he realised I was being serious. No wonder. By the time he’d looked at the TV, the camera had switched to Trump!