Why are we allowed to waste our money on fireworks?

I think, that at 39, I am officially old. It’s not the increasing prevalence of grey hairs which makes me feel this way.
No. It is my intolerance for people having fun in relation to one of our great British traditions.
I simply cannot get my head around our fascination with fireworks and the fact that ordinary people are able to get their hands on enough ordnance to, er, blow up the Houses of Parliament.
I have no problem with Guy Fawkes’ Night, bonfires or the peculiar notion of marking a terrorist attack which almost wiped out the government and killed our King.
It’s just the manner of the celebrations which leaves me scratching my head.
It’s not even as if the British firework industry is key to our economy. It only generates about £20 million a year.
So could someone explain to me why middle-aged blokes are allowed to leave supermarkets carrying armfuls of explosives?
It is all I can do to stop myself saying: “Mate. That must have cost you fifty quid and, if you don’t maim yourself in the process, they’ll be gone in five minutes.”
In a country where the gun laws are among the tightest in the world we are perfectly happy for untrained oiks to let off shedloads of fireworks in their back garden.
Inevitably some of these are handled by the inept, those under-the-influence and the underage – leading to an annual spike in injuries and fatalities.
But nobody seems to care.
I guess part of my incredulity stems from a childhood bereft of domestic firework parties.
Only once did my dad put on a fireworks display – when he went halves with Mr Macdonald over the road.
I would have been nine or 10 and, apart from the novelty of holding a sparkler for the first time, I recall spending the evening mithered to death that my dad was going to blow himself up.
I blame this on a project we did at Holden Lane First and Middle School on the firework code and those terrifying Seventies firework safety adverts on the telly.
You remember: One ended with the words: “Make sure your child doesn’t start November 6th like this…” and a picture of a little girl with third degree burns.
As it turned out, the Tideswell firework display was all over in about half an hour and everyone agreed it was something of a damp squib.
After that, each November 5 was the same. My brother and I were given extra pocket money and we sat looking out of the bay window in mum and dad’s room watching everyone else’s fireworks.
I can honestly say I never felt like I missed out and I could never understand the waste of money.
Basically, if you want see some fireworks on Bonfire Night then stand outside your front door between 6pm and 11pm and you can enjoy everyone else’s for free.
Why would you spend £30, £40 or even £50 or more on your own fireworks?
If anyone wants to see money go up in smoke I suggest they set fire to their wallets. It’s less noisy.
Of course, there are other well-documented downfalls to the availability of fireworks for domestic use.
Every night for the two weeks leading up to November 5 we have to listen to random explosions.
This isn’t much fun if you have pets. Watching your dog hide behind the sofa, in wardrobes and even in the bath in a vain attempt to escape the incessant barrage is pitiful.
Even New Year’s Eve has become a firework fest – with people waiting until the stroke of midnight to ruin the night of anyone with young children.
On Saturday night I took my two, now aged five and seven, with their friends to a free, 20-minute display in a local park.
They enjoyed the show, the excitement of being out in the dark and munched a chocolate-covered apple on a stick. Job done.
These days there are so many professionally-run, safe bonfires and firework displays for families to enjoy – many of which are free or in aid of charity – that I don’t understand why anyone would go it alone. Or, indeed, why they are allowed to.

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One thought on “Why are we allowed to waste our money on fireworks?

  1. I think it’s a bit like BBQs. “ME MAN – ME COOK”. Well fireworks are the same. Modern day blokes feel like lot’s of their traditional jobs are obsolete now.
    For example, we’ve been hunter gatherers for the past 100,000 years so in terms of evolution. During this time the men folk dominated the food gathering whilst the women cared and created the environment for the tribe. Now what where do we hunt? In ASDA, TESCO, MORRISONS. Blokes have effectively nurtured from the thrill of the hunt.
    Which leads me back to fireworks. Blokes get a thrill from lighting them, being close to the danger of doing a Harold Lloyd and losing a few fingers or blasting your face off.
    I think that’s why we do it. By the time you’ve finished lighting £50 the family are bored, once you’ve seen one rocket you’ve seen them all, but we rocket lighters are not, we’ve just blasted £50 of rockets to sh*t.

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