Calling all UK reenactors

In the last couple of decades there has been a great deal of legislation affecting and in the main restricting our reenactment hobby.

You may think that you cannot influence this, or you may simply leave it to your society’s organising body or NARES to speak on your behalf.

When I used to serve on various reenactment committees I had a subscription to Hansard, the daily record of every word spoken in the UK parliamentary sessions.  On a daily basis I would search for keywords and read the surrounding discussions. I often wrote to my MP with views, questions and suggestions.

 But I have found a more user-friendly tool. If you subscribe to http://www.theyworkforyou.com you can automatically receive an e-mail when keywords are spoken, or you can follow your local MP to see what he/she said and how he/she has voted.

I currently have an alert for my MP and for the keywords “shotgun”, “firearm”, “sword”, “knife” and “explosive”.

It is also useful as a route to taking part in public enquiries.

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During the public consultation period before legislation relating to storage of gunpowder and other explosives was introduced I, as a registered powder store owner and Powder Officer for the UK Napoleonic Association was obviously very interested.

I received from the Home Office a consultation document of several hundred pages with the title: “Storage and Handling of Explosives”.

With a couple of hours in flight on a business trip I took the opportunity to peruse the document and make notes.

When arriving at our destination I found that the two passengers who had been seated next to me were headed for the same factory, so we shared a taxi.

En route, one of them asked me: “What was that you were reading on the ‘plane?”. I explained, and he said: “Thank God! We had decided that if you went to the toilet we would call a steward!”

I never even thought I might be considered a potential terrorist, but a lesson learned about how easily one’s activities can be misinterpreted.

“Silent” fireworks

During the last week we in the UK have been suffering from an overdose of fireworks displays, both organised and impromptu.

As soon as fireworks appear in the shops, people seem to find the need to set them off at all hours of the night.

Traditionally “Bonfire night” was 5th November, when we remembered the dismembering of the catholic plotter against King James I,  Guido Fawkes, by burning his effigy on a bonfire, accompanied by fireworks.  All good, harmless, anti-catholic, anglican fun – hmm?!

As I remember, the fireworks were generally from a selection box, including a couple of rockets, launched from old milk bottles, that went “whoooosh!” and then fizzled out, a “volcano” that produced multi-coloured sparks,  a “rik-rak” or “jumping jack” banger (highly unpredictable) and a catherine wheel (remembering  yet another martyred catholic) which refused to spin unless prompted and occasionally gave a feeble whistle.

Nowadays it seems that the firework season starts as soon as the fireworks are available in the shops, sometime before halowe’en, and continues off and on until New Year.  Fireworks are now apparently confined to the status of multiple barrelled mortars with charges that explode spectacularly and noisily to the unnecessary annoyance of neighbours and their pets.

This year we witnessed a new phenomenon – fireworks without bangs.  Someone in our road managed to hold, a week before the normal date, an almost silent display.  Wonderful!   Unfortunately another neighbour compensated by letting off a ridiculously loud series of bangs at 12:45 a.m.

As the best friend of a dog who has spent the last three evenings quivering in the bathroom, can I please ask folks to adopt the silent variety?

Please?  Pretty Please?

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Incidentally, under UK law, when I had a licensed gunpowder store for 30Kg of black powder, I was not allowed to purchase a single firework if my store was full because it would infringe the terms of my license,  but anyone over 18 with no license could buy unlimited amounts of fireworks with no regulation whatsoever.

Considering the cost of application,  building work and further police checks needed for my powder store, I found this more than a little annoying.