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Thursday, November 05, 2015

How did anyone survive bonfire night in the 1950s?

Our house was on an unmade road that finished in a farmer's field.

Every year we built a bonfire in that field.

For a few Saturdays beforehand we would go "chumping".

This meant finding anything combustible we could beg or steal and dragging it to the site where our fathers would build it into some kind of structure.

Parental supervision was patchy. We kids would wander up there with a bag full of fireworks and a box of matches long before the adults appeared with the parkin and brandy snaps.

I can see the kid now. He was ten years old and he carried his stash of fireworks in a leather school satchel strapped across his chest, evacuee-style.

Somehow a spark must have got in there because there was a commotion and I turned to see this lad desperately trying to divest himself of the bag, from which flame was now shooting in every direction.

Somebody's dad got to him, pulled the strap over his head, threw the sorry-looking satchel to the ground and stamped on it.

He was OK. It didn't interrupt proceedings.

His gabardine school mac was ruined, though.

Bet he caught hell from his mother.