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Remembering November 5th

I’m remembering, remembering

My fifth of Novembering.

 

Far back when I was small

I can recall

 

Standing by the window

Waiting for dark to come

Waiting for dad to come

So he could light the fire

That my brother and I had built

In the back garden

 

The warm kitchen smelled of onions

And hot dog sausages

And there was freshly baked Parkin

 

Then in he came

With sparklers and rockets.

And matches.

It was time.

 

The lighting of the bonfire was a ceremony

Dad checked our twisted newspaper sticks

We had done a good job, he said.

Which way is the wind blowing?

Is the wood dry?

Will it light?

 

We made a Guy once

With a sawdust filled brown bag for a head

And legs from Mam’s old stockings, filled wi’ straw

We paraded it around the estate on me brother’s go cart

Not to collect money like they do now

It was just for fun

Dad tied him to an old wooden chair

And threw him onto the pyre

 

The bonfire was lit.

With the Guy On top

And with the twigs and prunings from the garden

It was all of three foot high

And soon the chair leg crackled into flames,

Lighting the Guy’s face, and ours, with an orange glow

Then the sparklers.

So young, but allowed, this one night

To hold real fire in gloved fingers

Arms length, terrified but squealing with delight

Making swirly patterns in the dark night

 

I’m remembering, remembering

My fifth of Novembering.

 

When you got older

You’d go with yer mates

To a bonfire the big lads had built

Behind the estate

With wooden gates they found in old folks gardens

Hinges and latches still on

 

And we all took summat:

Taters in foil, and chestnuts

Sausages in bread crusts

And Bonfire toffee

 

T’Big lads mucked about, played the fool

Chucking bangers onto t’fire;

Pulling red hot sticks out

To light their Park Drive

In the shadows, rosy cheeked  

You could get cosy with a lad

It was more exciting than sparklers

Terrified, but squealing with delight inside

You forgot all the warnings

About playing with fire

 

Ah- I’m remembering, remembering

My fifth of Novembering.

 

One year

One of the lads on our street

Lit a rocket in his hand

And it Blew off his middle finger

 

And another year, our next door neighbours lad

Had a Jumping Jack go off in his pocket

They called ‘im Cracker Knacker after that

 

 

I’m remembering, remembering

My fifth of Novembering.

 

Later It was all community bonfires

And fabulous firework displays put on by the council

Mind, You had to wrap up warm

There was no chance of getting near the fire

 

You could buy a hot dog and a hot drink

And the onions smelled good

But it wasn’t as magical

 

But I’m remembering, remembering

My fifth of Novembering.

 

Now – I’m just part of the grouchy older generation

Hating the firework noise outside my dark window

Like bloody Beruit and it’s not even November yet

And where did they get the money?

 

That’s not even a Guy

It’s your little brother wi’ a monkey mask on.

They ought to stop all this firework nonsense

All that money going up in sparks

Where do their parents think they are?

 

But…

Every November the sixth

Cloud damp and fog dense

I walk in the park

To find rocket sticks

And sparkler wires as evidence –

And I recall being small

 

And I’m remembering, remembering

Fifth of Novembering.