A great night to celebrate Guy Fawkes
Do you think daddy will remember?”
“Sally! How many more times are you going to say that?” her mother, Evelyn, asked.
“I know, sorry, Mum. I just hope they haven’t sold out of the ones I wanted.”
“They had plenty left yesterday. If he can’t get the box you want he’ll bring something. He knows it’s Guy Fawke’s night.”
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” eight-year-old Sally chanted as she put the finishing touches to her Guy Fawkes. He looked a real cheeky character in a pair of dungarees stuffed with newspaper and rags, his paper mache head topped with a ragged flat cap her Grandma happily donated.
“Don’t tell Grandad,” she’d made Sally promise, “I’ve been trying to get him to throw that thing away for years,” Grandma laughed.
“Are you making your special black treacle toffee, Grandma?” Sally reminded her.
“I’ve already made it darling, I’ll bring it over on the fifth.”
“Hello, anybody home?”
At the sound of her father wheeling his bike into the scullery, Sally flew down the stairs.
“Daddy! Did you remember?”
Her father pretended not to know what she was asking about, “Was I supposed to bring something home?”
His little daughter gasped, then seeing the look on his face she laughed, “Let me see, is it in your saddlebag?” She opened the leather bag strapped to the back of his bike and pulled out a colourful box.
“Oh, it’s the big box!” Her eyes lit with excitement as she ran off to show her little brother what daddy had bought them..
The sound of her grandparents opening the old wooden gate made Sally rush to greet them, hardly able to keep still with excitement.
“Come and look at what we’ve got. Penny Bangers, Catherine Wheels, Jumping Jacks and Roman Candles.”
Her grandad spotted the Guy Fawkes sitting jauntily in the old pram outside the back door,
“Great Guy, Sal, did you make him? He’ll burn well,” he laughed, then frowned when he had a closer look at the cap perched onto the dummy’s head. “That hat looks familiar.”
The smell of mushy peas and mint sauce filled the kitchen, Evelyn gave the big pot a stir, “I love this time of the year, traditions are so nice, aren’t they? The children are just as excited as I was when I was little.”
Her mother-in-law smiled, “Yes, I know, John’s just as excited as the kids,” she peered through the net curtains as her son hoisted the Guy on top of the huge pile of rubbish they’d been collecting for weeks. The effigy perched way up high, lolling as if drunk, on top of the wooden boxes, branches, old fence posts and anything else they’d gathered that would burn for this special night.
“Come on Mummy, Grandma!” Sally yelled to them.
The flames shot high into the air when John threw a match onto the paraffin-soaked pile. Smoke filled the already hazy air, the smell of damp leaves and clothing made everyone turn away for a few minutes, until the pyre started to blaze.
The children, including Sally, her brother Jack, and a few neighbourhood kids danced around excitedly, whooping and hollering, silhouetted against the blackness.
John nailed a row of Catherine wheels on to the fence, lighting them one by one until at last they were all spinning madly, colourful sparks crackling wildly. There was a loud unexpected explosion and suddenly John was jumping around as if he was on fire, Penny Bangers and Jumping Jacks threatening to set fire to his trousers.
A spark had landed in the box of pyrotechnics where he’d put them behind a rosebush for safety igniting everything at once, causing mayhem. The children squealed, running around madly to avoid the out-of-control missiles.
The display, which should have lasted for twenty minutes, was over in less than a minute.
After the excitement died down, John, extremely relieved everyone was uninjured, eventually saw the funny side. “Well, that was fun!” He managed a shaky smile, then seeing his daughter’s scared face said, “Come on, cheer up Sal. Who wants baked potatoes and mushy peas?”