Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Burn Your Money

Call me a misery guts but I hate bonfire night and would quite happily see the sale of fireworks nationally banned except for professionally organized displays.

As a nation we quite rightly worry about our kids carrying knives and guns but then are quite happy to let them purchase shedloads of gunpowder and explosives every year. Are we insane?

Yes, I’m sure most kids are sensible and trustworthy and mature enough to handle the responsibility of dealing with live explosives… but unfortunately there are always too many who patently aren’t. I’ve personally seen fireworks being thrown, had fireworks launched at me and know of people who’ve had lit fireworks stuffed through their letterboxes.

Every year – EVERY YEAR – people are injured by fireworks; usually children. It is never ever worth it.

And that’s before you tot up the financial costs involved. Fireworks cost a staggering fortune. Who has money to (literally) burn in this way? Plainly loads of us do. I had a friend who each year would spend over £200 on fireworks. I’d roll my eyes and make disparaging comments but at the end of the day he was right: it was his money to do with as he liked. My yearly offer to withdraw £200 from his bank account and burn it for him was always met with a stony silence. Can’t think why – I’d have saved him an entire evening of standing around in the freezing cold with a load of pewling, complaining infants. Cos at the end of the day, you see, he was doing all this for his kids.

Rubbish. What kid demands his parent forks out £200 on fireworks? The kind of kid that needs a huge kick up the backside and a reality check…

In my opinion, bonfire night has got out of hand. It’s big, big money and people feel pressurized to partake and to do it “even bigger than they did it last year”.

But look at the cost – and I’m not just talking about finances: polluted air for days, littered streets, terrified animals (my Nan had to practically anaesthetize her pet dog for the entire fortnight around bonfire night) and otherwise perfectly healthy people having to spend time in casualty with third degree burns or worse.

It just isn’t worth it.

Restricting the sale of fireworks to professional displays would mean a reduction in air pollution, costs that are spread between everyone who goes to watch such events (which would make the financial burden on everyone more manageable), the detonation of fireworks restricted to maybe one or two nights of the year instead of spread over the entire effing month and hopefully a large reduction in the number of fireworks related injuries.

Everybody’s happy.

Except of course for the people who make a fortune each year selling millions of pounds worth of fireworks to the easily manipulated…

But who gives a big sparkly shite about them? As far as I’m concerned they can all light their blue touch-papers and swivel…

9 comments:

TimeWarden said...

I don't think you're a misery guts, Steve, just because you're one of the minority with plenty of common sense! Good to see you're not one of the sheep who thinks these things are compulsory!! Think of all the alternative things you can buy with £200... I often point out to people who needlessly waste money how many DVDs they could've had instead and which will last them a lifetime!!!

As well as all the points you have so eloquently and excellently made, and with which I am in total agreement, why do Supermarkets pretend they are interested in recycling, ostensibly to help preserve our environment, while making millions polluting it through the sale of these damn things?

Had Guy Fawkes succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament, there might be something to celebrate... in getting rid of a political system only too happy to make money on the back of causing untold misery, to many people's lives, through the sale of fireworks. How ironic! And doubly so when most of the twisted fire starters who purchase the things have no idea of the historical context. People pay through the nose to celebrate their own continued oppression by the likes of Thatcher and Blair! I'd laugh if it wasn't so terrifyingly sad!!

Steve said...

Hi TimeWarden, too right! I can think of loads of things I'd much rather blow £200 on - a nice weekend away for me and my family in Wales for one thing! It's weird, my friend would blow all this money on "ephemera" and then complain that he never had the money to take his kids away on "a proper holiday". I think the only time they did go away was to Blackpool (?!? - which is my idea of hell) and because they'd scrimped so much they ended up literally in a mildew encrusted box overrun with cockroaches. Idiots! Cut back on the fireworks and plough a little more money, thought and research into your holiday destination!

But this is by the by - Bonfire night is a mass marketing campaign; the same as Christmas, the same as Easter, the same as Mother's Day... the true meaning of all such occasions is now lost; the true spirit of them can never be recovered while people feel obligated / bullied into spending all this money each and every year. It's social emotional blackmail on a grand scale. Christmas is harder to opt out of - I admit - but things like Bonfire night and Hallowe'en I gleefully boycott and am quite vociferous about it.

Regarding your comments on Bonfire night: "People pay through the nose to celebrate their own continued oppression by the likes of Thatcher and Blair!" Now that, my friend, is eloquence!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Well said Steve. Despite a bigger bang for your buck these days (enabling everyone and their child to have bigger better fireworks at the end of their garden), you cannot beat the atmosphere of a properly organised event - most amazing one I ever went to was on Blackheath! And it makes a nonsense of 'elf 'n' safety legislation ruling our lives on every other (more ridiculous) count.
Plus the specialness of these events has been lost now they go on forever to the point of utter nuisance. Aside from injuries to children, let's not forget trauma and injury to innocent pets either, not least now fireworks are so much louder than they used to be!

Rol Hirst said...

I always preferred the bonfire to actual fireworks when I was a kid. I like to see things burn. Heh.

However, on Monday night I did walk up onto the moors and watch the fireworks going off all across the valley, and from a distance I thought it'd be a shame if we didn't have this tradition.

Lots of things seem better from a distance...

Steve said...

Hi Laura, Rol, I actually prefer a good old bonfire to the actual fireworks myself though I can appreciate that firework displays are quite beautiful. Talking of distance - last year Karen and I tried to get in to see the display at Kenilworth Castle but not only was it sold out access to the castle was restricted to a few miles away due to the sheer volume of traffic. Being so far away actually made the display more beautiful... and it was certainly less painful on the ears!

-eve- said...

Hmmm, never thought of it this way, but fireworks have been banned here (and we still play it), so the benefit of that may be that, as you say, it's not so easy for kids to get to and play with (they used to lose fingers making their own fireworks), yet parents can still get them for their kids if they want.

Steve said...

Oh my God - kids made their own fireworks?!? That's damned scary.

Mind you if kids tried that here they'd find themselves arrested by armed police and held in custody for 28 days under the UK's counter-terrorism laws...

TimeWarden said...

Armed police and MI5 on their case! I've been watching too much "Spooks"!!

We had fireworks when I was younger but not the great big industrial strength ones they make today! I used to like the Catherine wheel but, nonetheless, preferred the eats my mum used to make on the night. Hot sausages and parsnips, things like that.

Buying fireworks is not dissimilar to wasting money on cigarettes, of course. Nothing to show for it at the end of the year except a large nicotine stain and, ultimately, cancer! Heavy smokers also complain they don't have enough money to take their children on holiday!!

Steve said...

Hot sausages and parsnips! Now that would almost make me grant bonfire night a reprieve...! I recall burgers and fried onions fresh from the pan being rather mouth watering too. Who needs the effing fireworks?!