November: time of reminiscence when we stare into bonfires and in the living flames see our past present and future hopes aspirations and dreams; where signs in the embers tell us of former days and nights and where fireworks remind us of peals of innocent laughter and waves of excitement.
November: where the cold comes. That wet, stifling, concrete cold that burns feet through shoes and fingers through mittens and makes the small of the back shiver.
November: when we laughed so much at one of the club fireworks over the valley; such a great display it was too. “That was a threepenny one,” you said, about that rocket; the one that just took off and looped and then came straight down again. How we laughed!
November: when we stood fearful of the height of the bonfire at the golf club; the heat causing us to stand back and hold hands ever tighter. Then came the fireworks – loud and bright, making patterns that echoed in the back of the eyes.
November: and that Saturday train; the old woman getting off the train at Tod, with all those tins; then passing all the street bonfires with all the people standing, thoughtful and quiet; each shadowed by a shadow.
November: and my father told me about collecting wood as a child for the fire up at his street and how a town councillor’s wife said loudly about the children that they were “from those slums” – and it hurt him forever; even more so as he aged.
November: and my grandmother arrives to our home bonfire. She has made parkin and treacle toffee; will she join us in the garden? we are asked to just knock on the window to let her know when we light the fireworks
November: and Standard fireworks in a red box; Catherine Wheels; Roman Candles; Traffic Lights; Rip-Raps; Bangers; Volcanoes; Rockets standing in milk bottles; blue touch paper lit and we stood back as instructed; fireworks in the tin; we stood with Sparklers making golden fire tracers in our eyes; we clapped our hands at the performance; “Look Nana, Look!” we knock on the window “Nana, look!” she looks and agrees; “very good!”
November: and children took a Guy Fawkes in an old pram around to collect money “Penny for the Guy,” but in my home town, children sang about “Cob Coalin’ for Bonfire Night,” Aunty Olive was said to know “all the words.”
November: and the air is thick with wood smoke and the fumes of the fireworks; the mist and fog make it so.
November: and the day after the bonfire we look to see if the fire is still in; sometimes it was and then we would hurry and look for sticks, trying to recapture the excitement of the previous night
November: and we eat potatoes and sausages outside in the back garden
November: and we look for Novembers in the past…just to knock on the window once again…to see from the train…to hold hands once more…to laugh and to watch…to be so engaged as to forget the burning cold of the ground…to feel safe again indoors…
…November: and we Remember