Fireworks Night

Guy Fawkes Night at Kenilworth Castle!

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.

3 thoughts on “Fireworks Night

  1. I too remember Bonfire Night (or Mum's birthday as it was known in my house!) as something mystical and magical, when Bonfires roared and the smell of gunpowder and burnt baked potatoes hung in the air. I also remember the news stories of children loosing fingers to Roman Candles, to reports of housing estates ablaze as another daft sod threw petrol on a damp mattress to get the bonfire alight, the sound of Fire Engines running hither and thither, that's why people in their thousands attend organised events like ours at Kenilworth Castle. I agree there is too much Nanny Stateism around, but in answer to the question posed, no money is spent on providing Fire, Police and Ambulance cover at the expense of charities. The event went off without a hitch (Ok we were late starting but put that down to the people who choose to ignore the “please come early” statements every year) and raised over £30,000 for local charities. It took six months of planning and over 50 volunteers to stage. Oh for once it would be nice to read a blog that actually thanked KRT for putting on the best fireworks in the Midlands.

    Paul Smith
    KRT Bonfire Chairman

  2. I thought the fireworks were brilliant. Thanks Round Table ;-)!! You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. You get bad press for keeping people safe, and worse press for letting people get hurt. Maybe if Chris thinks he can do a better job of it he should join you and help you organise it next year?

  3. The fireworks were indeed brilliant – the blog's about the awful constraints KRT have to work within to put on a show, not the quality of the display itself!

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