I remember when I was a young lad in the Seventies, growing up then wasn't so bad, people had work, if they left a job it was normal to have another job by the end of the followng week because work was there. I remember the one thing that kind of attracted me when I was younger and that was fire, not in the sense that I was an arsonist or was fixated with it, it just impressed me, the time I liked it even more was Bonfire Night Halloween, this was the time when we would all get as much wood as we could from everywhere mostly when people wanted rid of old furniture or anything burnable and thinking back to how dangerous that really was frightens me a bit because the toxic fumes of some of the stuff we burned could have killed an elephant, but when you are younger you don't worry as much about the consequence.
The idea was to have the Biggest fire in the street, were we lived it was like a huge circle of houses and in the middle was a huge park, no way anyone was allowed to build a bonfire there as the Police would have chased you, so we had our bonfire in our "back green" this was were the women hung their washing out on garden poles made of iron to stop them from breaking, they were not indestructable, eventually they rusted but they did the trick, anyway these back gardens were huge, so there was plenty of room to make a huge bonfire, once the Council stopped maintaining the area we had pretty much control of it, people didnt really care it was a run down area, although the houses were ok the landscape was pretty awful.
It took us weeks and weeks to gather the wood to make the fire, we already had the guy built that was easy you just pinched old clothes from a family member and dressed it up lol, even under threat of being murdered by your big brother or sister for stealing their best clobber you still went ahead and did it.
We always lit the fire when it got dark, which was usually around 4pm, we were all excited, trusted to just get on with it, non fussy parents who knew you would be ok, watched in the background as we lit our masterpiece.
The flames rose into the sky like someone had tried to reach into the heavens to touch the stars, sparks flew everywhere from cracking wood which burned easily, even though the quality of the furniture was better in those days than it is now, it burned pretty quickly, the only thing that took an eon was a railway sleeper, we always had one or two of them on hand to make the bonfire last, it was the carrying though they weighed a few pounds and it took nearly four of us to lift it and carry it about 3 miles or som distance was no object we had all day.
It did not matter what it was if it was flamable it went into the fire, we were pretty careful keeping away from the huge flames until it died down a wee bit, then we would throw in some potatoes, baking potatoes were unknown so our mums would give us some old potatoes to throw in the fire to bake, now thats what you called a baked potato, no microwave, no oven just pure baked in a bonfire, skin as black as coal, but man did they taste good.
Eventually the fire would die down, nothing more to burn, the die hards, me included would stay till the death, then a dulcit tone of your mum or dad would be shouting from the window,"ok time to come up" and that was it, another exciting day over and not ONE person hurt, nowadays Parents molly coddle their kids in case they get a scratch, not us, we were left to learn from our mistakes no matter how hard they were.
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