Thursday, November 24, 2005

There was a time before I left for Orkney and increasing during the week after where I would hear loud cracking sounds outside. It sounded like a gunshot or car backfiring, but with some frequency. I didn’t see anyone running, so I figured it wasn’t the former, and happened to often for me to think it was the latter. I eventually learned while walking home one night that they were fireworks. The tourist information centre filled me in that Guy Fawkes day was coming up; thus the increasing torrent of pyrotechnics.

I called BenAndHelen and invited them out for fireworks. There was a show in a local stadium, so we thought we’d head to that and then set off fireworks of our own while having some wine and/or beer. This is all legal to do in public, by the way, which I think is excellent planning.

It was sold out when we got there, but we joined the throng of folks (some selling plastic toys flashing fast enough to give a blind person a seizure) standing outside of the stadium. It was, inexplicably, Guy Fawkes day fireworks as presented by Disney. That’s the only explanation I can think of for the fact that they played songs from Disney movies through the whole thing, which have nothing to do with blowing up parliament. Songs from Aladdin, The Lion King, and Tarzan.

After the show (it was lovely) we headed to a playground near my place to set off fireworks. Their legal fireworks are pretty impressive, I have to say. Loud, too. All was well until a gang of barely-teenaged children saw us and swarmed. We had things involving noise and danger, you see, and they – well, they’re kids. Who might have been drinking at some point, or were perhaps merely drunk on being outside and unchaperoned after dark.

The fireworks kit came with a lighting stick – basically a bit of incense with no scent. It kept an ember for a while so you didn’t have to keep lighting matches or use a lighter. Crafty. One of the young girls saw the lighting stick and, thinking it was a cigarette, snatched it from Ben and ran off. He went after her, and she ran off again, and he eventually got it back. But what kind of person in their right mind (and that may be the operative wording here) steals a cigarette (even though it was clearly much too long to be one) from a stranger? Honestly.

She came up to us again later, asking for a cigarette. We don’t have any, we told her. Oh please, she begged. We stared at her. We- don’t- have- any, rebuffing her slowly this time, in case she had been drinking and needed things spelled out for her. Come on! She was demanding now. Listen. We don’t smoke, ergo, we don’t have any cigarettes. And still she whined, as if any moment we’ll sigh and say okay, fine, you can have one of the cigarettes that we carry around even though we don’t smoke.

We moved away from the swarm to the other side of the playground, first to get away from the kids, and second so we could set up the standing fireworks on pavement, thus preventing them from falling over. A pack of boys and one girl followed us over, the boys flicking lighters and the girl asking for beer. They surrounded Ben, pleading to let them light some fireworks, or buy some from him. The girl was clearly trying to appear older, talking to Helen and me about the fireworks on the next street, supplying us with more information than we could’ve ever wanted, and assuring us that she’d keep the more obnoxious kids away.

In the end we duct taped most of the remaining fireworks to a wrought iron fence and set them all off at once so we could finally escape the kids that Ben very aptly described as feral. Where on earth were their parents? I mean really.

And I’m still astounded that they allow public drinking and fireworks.

BenAndHelen and I went out to grab some food, then cruised back to my place for excessive movie watching. Best Guy Fawkes day celebration I’ve ever had.

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