I love fireworks. Even in a jet-set world of billion-dollar Hollywood and the Internet, the simple pleasures of a cold November night in a muddy field, watching rocketfuls of coloured powder explode across the sky, never fade. The castle – which I once visited on a school trip and sort-of remember – makes a great backdrop.
But I spend the evening strangely depressed. Because the fireworks display just reminds me of what Britain’s become: a nation strangled by bureaucratic box-ticking, suffocated by red tape, yellow with cowardice and risk aversion, and Health-and-Safetied to death.
Ooooooh, Health and Safety Executives, What Have You Done To My Fireworks Night?
As a kid, I remember walking right up to the bonfire as it blazed, getting my hair singed and flesh reddened. I remember walking wild across fields with torches, no parents allowed, boys’ little adventures. I remember bangs so loud they shook the earth.
Yet at Kenilworth, the bonfire is roped off 50m away. There’s not a single bang loud enough to make you blink. Sparklers are banned, replaced by soft and cuddly lightbands. And, unbelievably, even smoking (outdoors in a damp field) is banned as a fire hazard.
This insiduous infantilisation of British society has further detriment, because Round Table Kenilworth organises this event for charity. To comply with regulations, how much extra now goes on ambulance and fire cover instead of to the charities they support? How many people won’t be there next year, just because the suffocating circles of box-ticking yes-men turned a *awesome* spectacle into something merely nice?
Risk and danger are there to be embraced, not Health-and-Safetied away. In risk and danger lie competition and opportunity. These evil little public servants are engineering a disaffected society of safety-first, mollycoddled, milquetoast wimps who don’t know what real life is like.
Hell, even Branson‘s been afflicted. See what he’s saying about Virgin Galactic? He’s saying nobody will fly until it’s perfectly safe; that safety is his paramount concern. Here’s what he SHOULD be saying:
“People of Earth – this is dangerous. You’re going into space, in a big metal tube filled with inflammable materials. This is NOT a 747. It’s risky, dangerous, and there is a POSSIBILITY YOU MIGHT DIE.
Now, doesn’t that sound EXCITING?”
Let’s start putting the risk back.