Bommy Poems and Prose, Bonfire Night, November 5th 2020, Bonfire Night Memories by Val J. Chapman

Our regular Zoom workshop replaces the physical meeting at Touchstones and takes place on the first Thursday of the month between 2-4. This month it fell on November 5th so we had to write about Guy Fawkes’ Night, Bonfire Night, call it what you will. What I loved about facilitating this session was the marvellous memories we all brought back, I’m sure there’s a book to be had from this!

Val sent in her poem for our enjoyment.

Chairman Ray



Bonfire Night Memories


The excitement of the 5th November approaching surrounded us, at our young age, along with the anticipation of being allowed to go to buy fireworks at the local shop (they all sold them in those days).

For weeks now the bonfires would have been growing and growing in height and size, until they were tall enough to throw a Guy Fawkes on the top. He would also have been getting fatter and fatter over the last weeks of October, his old clothes being stuffed with hay or straw, and always with an old hat on his head. And prior to being thrown on the bonfire, kids would have been dragging him through the streets in a wheelbarrow shouting ‘Penny for the Guy!’ for a bit of pocket money.

Mum would make treacle toffee and Parkin which would be shared with our neighbours at the communal bonfire.

Dressed in warm, waterproof clothes, with wellies or substantial shoes, we’d take our torches and walk down to the already lighted bonfire on the corner where everyone from the surrounding streets would congregate. There was an atmosphere of smoky excitement, of lights and warmth and community spirit.

We all had sparklers and would wave them around to create writing against the dark skies.

All the young boys seemed to love the bangers best though, and the noisy Rip Raps which I hated; they scared me when they leapt along the ground in different directions, as if they were chasing me.

But the best was the baked potatoes which were cooked at the base of the bonfire in the hottest of the glowing embers. They burnt your hands when you held them, even through the knitted gloves that we wore.

But what remains sharpest in my memory is the smell of the gunpowder from the fireworks and the haze of the smoke which often hung around for days afterwards in the misty November skies.

© Val J. Chapman  5th November 2020

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