Bonfire night used to have bonfires, but I cannot remember the last time I saw one. In the car late last night on the way home to Manchester, after visiting my family in Lancaster, I caught a brief glimpse of black smoke on the other side of one of the vast featureless walls that runs up the side of the M602. Come to think of it, on the way to Lancaster yesterday afternoon there was a hint of distant flame leaping over the crest of a hillside. I wound down the window and sniffed the air, but nothing. No hint as to whether the burning was intentional bonfire, or tragedy of some description.
Lancaster has lost its way hugely when it comes to 5th November; Guy Fawkes Night, bonfire night, whatever you want to call it. It used to be a grand even where all gathered in the majestic grounds of Lancaster Castle and the Priory. The fireworks leaped up from the nearby common between the castle and the quayside, and everyone oohed and ahhed at the explosions directly overhead. Now we are shepherded away from the castle to lame random viewing points around Lancaster. Chose between the Giant Axe field beside the tiny football ground, or a small fenced off section of Williamson's Park miles from the fireworks.
We chose to go to Williamson Park. Instead of the whole public park being open, allowing everyone space to move, see without the obstruction of those horrible tall people, and preventing damage to the grass caused by tightly packed crowds; we were only allowed small sections of grass to gather on, with the majority of the grass fenced off, and the best viewing points completely shut down. Both the bandstand and the steps leading up the Ashton Memorial would have been perfectly safe vantage points. As it is we were herded, and patronised. Plus the fireworks were so far away they had about as much impact as staring at a crude stamp-sized drawing of the plot of Avatar, instead of watching the actual 3D cinema experience.
My niece enjoyed it though, but what does she know; she's only four. Besides the silly situation that we now have to watch the fireworks under, it was one of the best days I've had in ages. Dear Family, it was great to see you all, Love Kevin. Lancaster seems nice again too; the seven or so hours we were there was no where near long enough.
Just caught some more fireworks out the kitchen window, spraying up from the park at the back of the flat. When they ended after about twenty seconds joyous cheers roared out over the trees. Take that, Guy Fawkes.