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!
The Morning After the Night Before
We had to get up early the next morning, which wasn’t easy as we weren’t used to late nights as the night before had been. It was always worth the effort.
The night before had been bonfire night and now we were up early to go hunting. Hunting, not for rabbits, foxes, or deer, no, we were hunting for rockets. What was the fascination? I can list a few things that these spent rockets had but why was there such a common frenzy to collect them?
The spent rockets had a certain smell, that of gunpowder, and that was a powerful attraction to a child. The rocket was invariably damp as every November 5th of childhood seemed to be damp. There was an air of mystery about the rocket, it had been far up into space, in the dark, far beyond imagination and had then returned to earth again. And there was a certain currency about a spent rocket, like today’s Top Trumps, the bigger the rocket the more it must have cost, the further it must have flown, the louder it must have banged because all rockets exploded in our childhood and exploded noisily with a myriad rainbow of colours, or even just silver sparks if a cheap rocket. I swear that one year a rocket in our neighbourhood spewed out a parachute which descended slowly in a hailstorm of slowly changing colours and crackles. We heard the next day that a boy from the next street was rumoured to have found that parachute to add to his collection of space debris.
But does any of that explain the fascination? Even today I still get a little thrill if I find a spent rocket, damp, and face down in the gutter though these days I don’t pick it up and take it home. Perhaps I should get out more? I’ll certainly be out tomorrow, out early at that – it’s November 6th time to look for rockets!
© Ray Stearn 6th November 2020