Thirty Thousand Streets

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fire: Works

Fire really does work, as anyone who's seen the top floor of their house ablaze aged 11 or so can cheerfully attest. Fickle fire, man's friend or foe? This bonfire night, the eye determined to find out by crossing the river to check out a display of pyrotechnics at Alexandra Palace, donning mittens and remembering of course, not to tuck my jeans into my wellingtons - imagine what would happen if a firework flew in.

I suppose you could argue that in today's climate of heightened fear regarding the proliferation of terrorism, bonfire night is a cultural event of real resonance, celebrating as it does the foiling of a bomb threat that thratened to strike at the very heart of our government. Personally I think people just like to look at shiney stuff and say "wwwooooh!" lots.

Certainly there were no shortage of people thronging out of Wood Green train station, when we decamped there en-masse for our fix of the sparkly stuff. Indeed it took at least fifteen minutes mereley to get up and over the footbridge. Once there, we headed to an off-license for Bonfire night essentials (2 cans of Heineken, pistachios, fags) before climbing up to 'Ally Pally' with our fellow pilgrims. Once we arrived we were treated to a Capital FM DJ 'working the crowd' over cheesey records before the fireworks began, and I must admit, it was pretty impressive.

There's something curiously hypnotic and soothing about loud bangs and explosions viewed at a distance; a sentiment seemingly shared by those around me judging from their reactions. Pickpockets must make a killing at events like this - assuming that is, they can tear their eyes away from the gratifyingly bright stuff ocurring overhead themselves. I could however imagine it getting somewhat banal after a while as the novelty bright lights afford is pretty limited; There's basically two types of fireworks at an event like this, those that explode with a boom over a radius of several hundred metres - which is what everyone goes to see, let's be honest, and the multitude of crackly sparkly ones which as act dramatic counterpoint to the big boys. In light of this, the timeframe of half an hour was ideal.

After this display, the crowd promptly spun 180 degrees, and with very little ceremony began the trudge back down the hill which it had ascended half an hour or so before. A crowd also congregated outside the entrance to the palace where we waited for a while in the vain hope of sighting my friend's brother, who'd arrived seperately from us. Luckily for anyone who hadn't quite got their fix of the festivities, someone took it upon themselves to start casting live fireworks into the crowd, creating pyrotechnics AND mass panic. Great! Luckily a PC was there with the grit to run over and stamp on the firework just pror to its explosion, for which he was awarded a muted round of applause.

After this we exited as fast as crowds would allow, and in truth it was slow going all the way to Wood Green. Me and my friend Dunc reasoned we might cut through the crowds a great deal quicker if we both had catherine wheels strapped to our chests.

From Wood Green we caught the tube to Liverpool Street, and from here hiked to my friend's night 'It's Bigger Than', at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane, where we drank Red Strip and swayed to electro disco.

After this, we popped into a bagel shop further up the road. Can't remember what it's called, but there's two of them, they both spell bagel 'beigel' in their titles, and it was the secondmost of the two. Here we ordered saltbeef bagels/beigels with mustard and mayo which are delicious, and not something I've experienced outside London. Wolfed these down, and headed for the 35 nightbus home.

So fire, friend or foe? Both actually - in the hands of experts, it is a thing of great beauty my friend, but lit, and in the hands of chavs... actually I'm not so bothered about them being in the hands of chavs, it's when the little fuckers chuck them in my general direction that I start getting twitchy.

1 comment:

Zeno Cosini said...

Man, I love fireworks. If I could be reincarnated, it'd be as a sort of Spirit-Of-Bonfire-Night-type daemon, with catherine wheels for eyes, sparklers for fingers, and roman candles for limbs. Remember the paranoid educational presentations offered by the local fire brigade when you were in primary school? The tone was always slightly hysterical, but it worked in the sense that I could "NEVER RETURN TO A LIT FIREWORK." Ever. Age about 8 I went with my Beavers troop to a fire safety fair, where they were giving out stickers with a stylised emblem depicting a screaming woman with her hair on fire. Which was advocating what, exactly? Anyway, I stuck it to the wall behind my little sister's bed, and it made her cry. Result.