“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.

 

 

Normal service will be resumed…

Everything has come to a grinding halt here since Tuesday afternoon.  Around 3:20 in the afternoon I was putting the finishing touches to some Morris 15cwt trucks for our next wargame when the doorbell rang.

It was Dave, our neighbour.  He said: “Your shed’s on fire. I’ve called the fire brigade.”

I rushed out of the back door and to the summer house where I keep a large fire extinguisher.  By the time I got back it was clear that would not be enough.  I began to unreel the garden hose, but another neighbour appeared and dragged me away.  As we left the garden I saw that the garden fence was alight and the back end of our caravan had begun to melt, as had the guttering on the flat-roofed extension to the house.

My rescuer asked what was in the shed.  Apart from the usual collection of old paint tins there were 3 large gas bottles, propane and butane.  I and everyone else were forcibly retired to the other end of the street.

By the time we could hear the fire engines trying to battle with the traffic – at this time of day our area is crowded with “Chelsea Tractors” each with a doting parent and a brat who would benefit from walking home from school occasionally – the scene looked like this:  https://www.facebook.com/peter.tolson/videos/10155431633238149/

I will try to get a copy of the video posted directly here to avoid the Facebook log-on. Meanwhile here is a taster:

This is the scene my wife arrived to see. She was releived that the house was not gutted as she had seen the smoke on her dash home.

We had four fire engines, numerous police cars and two paramedic cars.  I was taken to hospital to have my burned face dressed.

When I returned from hospital, everything had died down and everyone had left we faced this sight:

What I came home to. This used to be a bike store, a garden tool shed, a larger shed/workshop and a caravan.
The house and garden. In fact there is little structural damage to the house, but the builders will need to be called in.

So, two days later, we are still waiting for the insurance assessor to call, and everything remains untouched.  We have come down from the adrenalin rush and the initial shock to a state of mild depression.

But it could have been much worse.  We have only lost stuff.  The caravan was fully insured for market value and there would have been littla depreciation since we bought it just three weeks ago.  I doubt if the home contents insurance amount will cover all the lost items, but many were d-i-y tools bought for a specific job in the past and stored in the big shed.

A massive thank you to the fire crews who saved the house and were so considerate – they even went into the our bedroom, under the part that was burning, chucked all the teddy bears from the shelves onto the bed, and covered bed and wardrobe with plastic sheeting to minimise water damage.

All the teddies are safe from drowning!

And where would we be without all our neighbours, who alerted me, called the fire brigade, saved me from severe injury, found our dog two streets away and gave physical and moral support, and have offered to help clean up the mess?

When this is all over we intend to hold a “thank you” party for them all – but probably not a barbecue!

And the cause of the fire is not yet known.