My local memories: remembering cracker night! - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

The 5th of November was an annual highlight when I was a kid. On Guy Fawkes Night, bonfires were lit in backyards, and everyone enjoyed fireworks. All sorts of fireworks were available: bungers, spinners (propelled in circles around axils), throw-downs, jumping jacks, Roman candles, skyrockets, etc.

Guy Fawkes was one of a group of conspirators who plotted to blow up the British Parliament. The event was celebrated because the plot failed, and democracy was preserved. It was a rather wild way to acknowledge the survival of our style of government. Once, when some politicians behaved badly, I recall my Dad (tongue in cheek) saying that perhaps Guy Fawkes’ plan had some merit.

Government was the last thing on kids’ minds. Fireworks enabled all manner of stunts and experiments. Did one of the boys in my class really blow up the teacher’s mailbox? Empty jam tins placed over lit bungers would fly high in the air like mortars and return blown out of shape. Skyrockets were always a surprise as you were never sure where they might land, sometimes on rooves, roads or verandas. One set our neighbour’s palm trees alight.

Fireworks combined superbly with backyard dunnies, especially when Mum was in the dunny. Dunnies had vents that looked like chimneys and came out from under the seat to rise vertically to just over the roof. The purpose was to release gas and reduce the smell. One boy stood on a second boy’s shoulders while a third lit a bunger and passed it quickly to the boy on top. He dropped it down the chimney, and it exploded under Mum’s backside. The result was a big bang followed by a series of yells and expletives. We ran away, and by the time Mum pulled her pants up and opened the door, we were long gone. We thought it was great fun, but Mum didn’t seem to have a sense of humour.


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