The time… 5.49pm. The date… Tuesday 2 November. The sound… a firework. The question… “Oh come on! Already! Why?”Advertisement
As the skies bordering Plungington and Fulwood were treated to a premature back garden rocket show earlier this week, residents across Preston are braced for a hail of projectiles, lights and sounds. In my house there’s a clear demarcation between the joyful wide eyed excitement of those aged seven and under and the eardrum-ruptured, sleep-famished eyes of those aged 38 and above.
Last year a number of fireworks events were cancelled due to the pandemic meaning as many as 52 per cent of households across the country may have put on private fireworks displays, according to official polling. As a result, in 2020, we were treated to our own impromptu, bargain bin Northern Lights as Preston residents spanning from Cottam to Broadgate painted the skies with the finest rockets Aldi had to offer. This year, happily, a number of bonfire night regulars like Preston Grasshoppers and Astley Park in Chorley are running again. However, it’s always worth discussing firework etiquette and issues for the back garden firework enthusiast.
Read more: Bonfire Night 2021: Firework displays in and around Preston and South Ribble
Sure, it’s legal to do that, it’s also legal to belch Vengaboys tunes at your parents while they’re across the table eating quinoa and lobster bisque – doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea.
But legally, yes, you could leave it until 10.58pm before lighting the fuse on an illumination that would put a hydrogen bomb to shame for sound and light but let’s be honest, after the first 15 minutes there’s ever diminishing returns in fireworks. If after 30 minutes of watching, you haven’t got what you wanted to get from a fireworks display then I’m sorry, but no amount of wiz-bangs is going to be enough.
I understand. I’ll be the first to admit it, colourful explosions are very compelling. People weren’t watching Independence Day because of the layered and nuanced character development – they wanted to see huge alien base-ships destroyed by F16 fighter jets, and rightly so.
That said, alcohol and fireworks make awkward bedfellows; I remember a friend successfully detonated a rocket from between his glutes (we were young…) – it was, undeniably quite a spectacle. On reflection though, it’s very easy to imagine this going wrong and I can’t really endorse that kind of behaviour. It’s certainly not hard to find any number of newspapers articles each year highlighting these accidents in Lancashire, and the NHS estimated that close to 3,600 people were sent to hospital with fireworks related injuries in the last five years, with a spike in the figures in 2020 as people hosted their own displays at home.
Read more: Virtual fireworks display to be held by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service for second year in a row
Sadly, if that’s the case, you may need to curtail detonating explosive devices – which can register up to 120db – in the sky. It’s just not compatible with the cowering dogs, cats and farm animals affected by the sound. A recent survey of pet owners showed that 62 per cent of dogs and 52 per cent of cats showed signs of distress as a result of fireworks.
Earlier this week I did read a somewhat heated Blog Preston comment thread suggesting that animals can be desensitised to loud noises… Interesting, though not necessarily practical as it can take months of training to see results and, at the time of writing, I’d estimate we have less than a few hours before the first volleys are launched. As ever though, there’s plenty of advice on the RSPCA website on how to keep animals calmer during Bonfire Night, and Classic FM are playing soothing music for dogs throughout Bonfire Night and Saturday.
Whether or not you were a fan of 17th century Monarch James the First, both sides can agree it was a significant event worth recognising. Surely, though everyone’s enthusiasm for things that took place in 1605 can be wrapped up by around 9pm… 9.30pm-ish at the latest?
Also, using fireworks celebrations has already proven a mixed bag for Preston City Council this month, with a display in celebration of keyworkers taking place on Saturday 2 October drawing a host of online criticism. Concerns were raised that the display ran too late, pets and sleeping children were disturbed and that the event money could have been better spent elsewhere. Whilst I don’t want to speak on behalf of keyworkers, I feel the majority would have opted for a cost of living pay increase, as opposed to some fireworks. In fairness though, the one-off cost of a fireworks display is probably unlikely to cover the expense of permanently raising the wages of thousands on thousands of workers.
Yes, that would definitely work.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines
What’s your opinion on fireworks? Let us know in the comments.