I genuinely think that if Guy Fawkes had used the same fireworks I had as a child, that parliament wouldn’t have had much to worry about.
Our “displays” were an embarrassment.
The actual night would start with the ritual holding of sparklers – a ceremony that would terrify me, so I always took the precaution of wearing heavy duty gloves and welding glasses.
“There’s no need for that,” dad said. “Look, it’s fun.”
Holding the sparkler 20 feet away from my body, I stared at him blankly.
“You’re supposed to wave it around,” he said.
I waved it. It flew out of my hand, over the garden fence and burnt down the neighbour’s shed. He was right. It was fun.
I would often gasp at how my dad used to walk fearlessly across the garden to light the fireworks. I’d always think the fireworks would blow up and dad would spontaneously combust.
But our fireworks were harmless and pathetic. Our traffic lights stopped on red, our Catherine Wheel wouldn’t spin and our Jumping Jack did a lame hop – except for one occasion when it followed us into the house.
But our fireworks didn’t always work badly. Sometimes they didn’t work at all.
They say that “you should never return to a lit firework,” which explained why we never hung our washing out the next day as walking across the lawn was like walking through an Egyptian minefield.
The highlight and grand finale of the evening was the launching of our one rocket. Though it was seldom spectacular, at least we knew it had a 50/50 chance of clearing the fence.
I used to think the reason we saved it until last was because it was the most exciting.
I later realised it was because we had to wait for mum to empty a milk bottle – which is why when we finally went indoors there were 17 cups of tea waiting for us.