An Open Letter - Fireworks, Bonfire Night, Torture & Execution
|Ban Bonfire Night |Ban Fireworks
Please scroll down for letter.
Right, I am sure this is going to make me very unpopular in certain quarters, but given that it is like a war zone in many areas at the moment (hasn't been too bad here compared to last year) and given that I am a writer, I couldn't resist attempting a modern rewrite of the famous 17th century poem 'Remember, Remember.' Mine is called, 'Surrender, Surrender.'
Surrender, surrender, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
There’s very good reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should these days be forgot!
Every year, without lament
We make occasion of a man’s intent
Far worse has been done since, we know
We don’t ‘celebrate’ those things, do we now?
Out of mercy for animals, both wild and pets
For the emergency services, hospitals and vets
Forgo the fireworks, but let the bells ring
That was all that was called for, in the beginning.
And what shall we do with him?
Let him rest!
S P Oldham
The original is here, if you are interested:
and my ranty letter is below. Please scroll down.
So, have at me then. But I feel very strongly about this!
By the way, the punishment for treason was true horror. Take a look at this paragraph, taken from BBC History - The Gunpowder Plot by Bruce Robinson.
"the traditional punishment for traitors: hanging, drawing and quartering. They would be hanged until half-dead, upon which their genitals would be cut off and burned in front of them. Still alive, their bowels and heart would be removed. Finally they would be decapitated and dismembered; their body parts would be publicly displayed, eaten by the birds as they decomposed."
Guy Fawkes escaped this latter part, though he was subjected to torture. As he stepped up to the gallows he threw himself sideways, falling and breaking his neck. A mercy for him, undoubtedly.
I put off writing this letter for some time, taking the view that others have made similar points and that in amongst the wealth of opinions and conversations out there in the ether my voice would likely go unheard. However, I finally got round to writing it because I need to vent as much as anything! That said, I think my points are valid. Some of the reference links may be a little dated now, but I bet it wouldn't take you long to search for similar incidents that are current, should you wish to.
My letter takes on two points:
1.) Why fireworks should be at the very least NOT AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC and at best, banned completely
2.) Why we should not be celebrating Bonfire Night, at least not in the way that we currently do, any more.
This is the point where I know a lot of you will say “miserable old cow wants to spoil everyone’s fun, bet she watched fireworks as a kid” or similar, and stop reading. Well that’s up to you, but if you can stick with me, I believe my reasons are valid.
- Idiotic behaviour by irresponsible people, in a nutshell, Historical reports have shown the dangerous activities certain individuals have undertaken with fireworks, including throwing them at people. In my own area I can confirm that people have set off fireworks in the neighbourhood, on the fields, in local garages and even throwing them into bins outside houses, for at least 6 weeks BEFORE Bonfire Night! (NB the date is 19th October 2018. As I edit this to bring it up to date, someone was just letting off fireworks on the street outside!) I don’t for one minute believe this is just an issue in South Wales. Please, please comment below with your experiences in your area. Link to historical report as an example: 2 year old had fireworks thrown at him, Manchester
- ‘Grade’ of Firework available – police are concerned that the grade and strength if you will, of fireworks being used by the public is too powerful and capable of causing immense damage. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed. For the sake of a minute or two of supposed ‘fun.’ The hard part about this of course, is that they also think these fireworks are being bought online. Commercial grade fireworks used in incident
- Lots of kids don’t like fireworks! Not every child sees Bonfire Night as fun. It can be a night of fear and nervousness for them too, not to mention the weeks either side of the night itself when people are STILL setting them off! 'Utter Madness'
- Pets – why should our poor animals go through this distress every year? They have no understanding of what is happening and for some of them it is a time of utter fear and misery. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just on November 5th but as I have stated above, it isn’t! Many of them run away out of fear, some are never seen again – as a consequence of ‘fun.’ I can't bring myself to talk about the sick people who deliberately abuse and harm animals with fireworks, which is obviously an outright illegal act, Our pets on Bonfire Night As for wildlife, all I can say is poor things!
- Emergency Services – aren’t our poor, beleaguered Emergency Services up against it enough with endless cutbacks and understaffing, without adding the workload of unfortunate accidents and/or stupid, malicious incidents on and around Bonfire Night to their list of things to do? It has been reported historically that some Ambulance Services have even had to temporarily relocate their vehicles and HQ to avoid being deliberately attacked by fireworks. One ex-services paramedic likened it to being under fire in an operational situation! Totally unacceptable! Not to mention the financial cost of these services having to attend when there is an accident – or a deliberate incident. Just one example...
- Environmental Hazard – when we are all constantly being told via the media, the government etc. that we should be more and more environmentally aware, how is it that no one seems to be looking into the negative effects of numerous fireworks and their debris upon the environment? I am no expert but I can’t believe for one minute that it is anything but damaging. Can anyone enlighten me on this? Apparently it's not good...
- Burning an Effigy – in 2016? Really? Quite justifiably so, there was outrage, shock and horror when a poor Jordanian pilot was burned alive by Isis in 2015. Yet every year we encourage CHILDREN to mock up a human being and then burn it on what is essentially a pyre! If that is not hypocrisy, I don’t know what is! And we call it a celebration! Should we really be celebrating the horrific, painful death of Guy Fawkes,(who was not even burned incidentally, so it is not even historically correct) who, whatever else he was, was a real human being? I am a lover of history and I believe our children need to know the facts, as gruesome as they may have been. But there must be a better way to mark the occasion than this. Just to add, there are numerous jokes on the internet about how Guy Fawkes was the last person to enter parliament with honest intentions. That being the case, WHY do we celebrate his death every year? Is that not just another hypocrisy? How Guy Fawkes died
- Hedgehogs – some experts reckon that hedgehogs may be extinct in the next 20 years or so. I am not for one minute suggesting not lighting bonfires on November 5th will turn this around, but it has got to help surely? How many of these poor creatures have burned to death because someone has forgotten to check the bonfire, or not had time to do it? How many other animals too I wonder? Poor old hedgehogs...
- Now you would be right to call me a hypocrite based on what I have done in the past. We attended bonfires when the kids were little. Not so much the fireworks as my oldest was none too keen on them when he was small. We bought the odd packet of sparklers for sharing in the garden too – and there are stories of awful accidents involving them. It’s a fair cop guv- I am not denying it. However, since then I have grown, matured and become more aware. Were my kids still little now I am not at all sure I would bother with Bonfire Night. More and more it presses on my conscience that we shouldn’t be doing this. In an age when we are supposed to be tolerant, fair-minded, environmentally minded and so on, that we keep inflicting this carnage on our own society year in year out makes less and less sense to me.
- There must be a better way to mark the day. Something productive rather than destructive. Something that can help rather than hinder. Something that we can be proud of, rather than having to watch or read awful news reports about things that happened because of this so-called ‘celebration.’ Something like, I don’t know – community planting of trees or something, with a barbecue afterwards. Child-friendly events like storytelling in the woods by lamplight with a toffee apple to munch on the way home. Ok, they are a bit lame and off the top of my head – if you can do better (and I am sure you can,) comment below!
- Anyway, that’s my tu’pennorth on the subject. Feel free to add your thoughts below but can we do it like adults please? No lowering ourselves to childish name-calling, insults and threats. We can disagree without all that rubbish. Topics like this really need a grown-up approach.
- Thank you.