Exploding in the distance

November 6, 2018 by Leigh-on-sea.com


Sunday night. It was cold - not bone-chilling proper winter cold, but still chilly. We were in layers. So many layers - leggings under my jeans, big socks under my boots, a top AND a jumper AND my big coat and scarf. Woolly hat, my Mum's hand crocheted fingerless gloves.

Jo and I schlepped down to Old Leigh in said layers with a rucksack filled with treats. We perched on the wall by the Peterboat and busted out the comestibles. We had a flask of piping hot tea, and freshly cooked hot dogs stuffed in buns with onions, cheese and ketchup, wrapped in tin foil so they were still hot. We ate the hot dogs and drank the tea and watched huge fireworks across the water in Kent and Canvey Island.

We were firework chasing - Saturday night for us had been spent inside Brixton Academy dancing to the beats of Jon Hopkins, so we missed a lot of the big firework displays. Kent really showed up to the party on Sunday night. Big, booming fireworks - the huge, spritzy, multicoloured ones that burst into gigantic circles in the sky.

I loved going to fireworks nights at Darlinghurst school as a kid, with saucer-eyes at the display. I loved being really young and going out into the garden to have sparklers, me and my sister writing our names in the air. I remember walking to school and seeing the spiky wooden remnants of spent fireworks littering Pall Mall the next morning. I remember a favourite book as a child, 'The Seasons in Fern Hollow' - in the autumn chapter, a family of rabbits had a bonfire and cooked baked potatoes in it. "Be careful, they are rather hot!" - this picture thrilled me, and I always returned to it. It made me feel inexplicably cosy and with a desperate need to eat a potato cooked in a bonfire (something I've never had to this day).

There's a magic in that bonfire smell - when you smell it on the way home it makes you turn your collar up a little closer, the mark of the autumnal season. I loved it when I lived in an upstairs flat near Chalkwell station, and we'd see the big displays in town from our living room window. There's a beautiful lyric by The Tragically Hip in their aptly named song Fireworks that captures the poetic nature of them:

"Fireworks exploding in the distance, temporary towers soar / Fireworks emulating heaven, til there are no stars anymore"

I know not everyone loves fireworks. You might hate them because they go off when you're putting your baby down to sleep. You might have an anxious pet - hell, you might have anxiety yourself and loud bangs might not be ideal for you. I read that Bill Turnbull has done a special Classic FM show for during fireworks night that plays the world's most relaxing and calming classical music with anxious pets in mind. I love that. Good old Bill. So I do understand if you don't love fireworks.

We didn't seen THAT many during our tea + hot dog expedition, but it was a nice thing to go out and do; it made coming home to our lovely house even nicer, warming up when we got home with blankets and the Strictly results. Whether you're out at the big firework displays or hygge-ing it up at home with the telly on but the curtains open in case you see some absolute crackers, I hope you have a good one.

To read all of Ray's previous blogs please click here 


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