Why I Hate Fireworks – 6 November 2010


2007_cookham_scouts_fireworks Introduction:

The last couple of days have really got me thinking about fireworks. With Guy Fawke’s Day falling on a Friday, both last night and tonight’s skies have been illuminated by the familiar November sight. But what’s the point? Turns out, I hate fireworks.

OK, maybe ‘hate’ is a little brash. But I certainly don’t like them: have you seen how much they cost? In Waitrose this morning there was glass cabinet of domestic fireworks, ranging from a £3 packet of sparklers to a £100 box of rockets. Surely this hard-earned punters’ money could be better spent on something more long-lasting? The average Briton earns £23,244 a year, which equates to (post-tax) just £1,497 a month. This means that that top-end box of fireworks is 2 days’ pay-packets. It’s easy to dismiss that statistic and say that an average-person wouldn’t spend that much money on fireworks anyway, but shockingly many do. And for what, exactly? A few seconds of peace-disrupting noise, and a small explosion of light and colour? It seems ridiculous to me.

Let’s not forget what this incredible waste of money is usually celebrating: a failed 1605 terrorist attack. 405 years on, we still have a day dedicated to one of the most evil men in British history. Will we ‘celebrate’ the unsuccessful Times Square bombing last May every year? Will we send postcards to each other every October, in celebration of the recent foiled Yemeni printer-cartridge-bombs? Of course not.

Low-key, back-garden displays often have such long waits between each Catherine wheel and Roman candle, that by the time the rockets’ fuses are lit, the children are falling asleep or have run away from the noise.

Fireworks are dangerous too. Half of all related accidents happen to children under the age of 16. On a large scale – away from residential areas – they may just be tolerable, but even there they’re dangerous. On Friday, a 21-year-old Sussex man suffered serious burns after being hit in the chest by a stray rocket, whilst at a popular event attended by around 40,000 people. At that event alone, the St John Ambulance and South East Ambulance service (SECAmb) dealt with 127 individuals – 14 of which needed hospital
treatment. 23 arrests were made; mainly for drunk disorderly behaviour, possession of Class C drugs, and a couple of minor assault incidents. You may be asking yourself why I’m making a fuss about a seemingly small number of problems at such a big event. The fact of the matter is that there shouldn’t be any.

This disorderly behaviour can be deadly to innocent people. Last year, a Bodmin mother-of-five died after rowdy children reportedly put a firework through her letterbox. She died saving her 17-year-old socially-outcast son, who she managed to rescue by pushing out of a window before the flames engulfed her . This is simply not right, but sadly it’s not the only house-fire caused by letterbox fireworks. This year, on 5 November itself, there were three such incidents.

The only thing I can count on to end this ridiculous festival is health and safety legislations. In just a few years, I reckon we’ll all be sitting relaxed around our televisions to watch a virtual display in glorious HD and Dolby Digital® surround sound – with full control of the volume. And there’ll be no need for coats either. Now that will be a night to remember.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.