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Published: November 8th 2006
The opportunity to set off your own fireworks is an exciting one for an Aussie, as this has been banned in Australia since the 1980's. So on my first Guy Fawkes night in the UK, I made full use of the opportunity to let the pyromaniac in me free!
In the UK you can buy fireworks from the supermarket around Guy Fawkes Day - a bit different from the trip to Canberra required in Oz! As you can also buy beers at the supermarket - preparing for a Guy Fawkes party only requires one stop!
Actually - we did not celebrate on Guy Fawkes Day itself as the 5th was a Sunday. However, on the Saturday night we celebrated with a big fireworks extravaganza, . Anyway, it does not seem to matter here, for at least two weeks before the 5th you could hear fireworks going off in the local area nearly every night. There does not seem to be any rules about it - just anywhere in the street is fine (or at least done)!
It is a funny reason for an event - on 5 November 1605 Guy (Guido) Fawkes, an English soldier, attempted to assassinate
King James I and the members of both houses of the Parliament of England by blowing up Westminster Palace during the opening session. The plan was unsuccessful (they were betrayed by one of their own) and became known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’. Guy Fawkes was tried, tortured and ultimately executed (by being hung, drawn and quartered - actually cut into four pieces!!) for treason and attempted murder. So essentially, Guy Fawkes Night is a celebration of a failed attempt to kill the king. There are also rhymes about him/the plot (see below) and lots of references in famous literature and songs (The Smiths, John Lennon).
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
At first I thought the celebration of Guy Fawkes was kind of like the Aussie's love of Ned Kelly, but it actually seems that it meant to be a reminder of what will happen to you if you try to overthrow the government (hence the lighting of the bonfire and the setting fire to the 'Guy').
Anyway - enough of the history.
A group of us gathered at my brother’s place. He’s living on a barge on the Thames which has a big empty platform running alongside it, actually on
A great stash of rockets, our supplies and setting off the fireworks
pylons in the Thames - a perfect place for fireworks. A bunch of other ‘barge-dwellers’ were there with fireworks. One of the guys has a mate who works at a fireworks shop so they had heaps of fireworks.
Setting of the fireworks was heaps of fun (and of course, very safe - with music, beers and naked flames, how could it not be?). In addition, we could see others setting off their fireworks all along the river. Way cool!! Maybe next year we can find a location where we can have a bonfire (the other traditional part of Guy Fawkes night).
Oh - and only one person fell in the Thames (and she was one of the people who lives on a barge... you would think that she would have known better)!!
LATE ADDITION - Have just seen this article on the BBC Website - maybe there is a reason for the banning in OZ! Backside firework prank backfires
A man suffered internal burns when he tried to launch a rocket from his bottom on Bonfire Night.
Paramedics found the 22-year-old bleeding, with a Black Cat Thunderbolt Rocket lodged inside him, when they attended the scene
He suffered a scorched colon and is now recovering in hospital, where his condition is described as stable. A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said the prank could have been fatal. Douglas McDougal, from the NEAS, said: "We received a call stating there was a male who had a firework in his bottom and it was bleeding.
"He sustained fairly significant injuries in the fact that there's huge damage to that particular area."
Mr McDougal added: "Potentially it could have been a fatal incident. "There's a lot of major blood vessels round that area, so infection would probably be a huge problem for him. "And also the body naturally produces methane gas, so combine that with the firework and the exploding effect with methane's flammability - it certainly could have been a lot worse than it really was."
A spokesman for the Firework Association described the bizarre prank as "beyond belief".
He said: "We have spent a long time working with the government to create laws that make fireworks safer and better for the public.
"This incident is very concerning but hopefully an isolated one."
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