It has to be said, I can never go back to the piddly little small-town firework displays that I have been used to seeing over all of these years. London has ruined me.
My bonfire night involved dinosaurs on stilts, sneaking through cemeteries, problematic language barriers and singing Frozen’s Let it go in ankle-deep mud, and therefore, all in all, it was my best bonfire night in twenty-two years. Allow me to elaborate…
It all started when we heard that an Islington park – Clissold Park – was holding a firework show for the first time in… donkey’s years (I’m curious as to the meaning behind that turn of phrase.. are donkey’s like dog’s in the aging respect?), and so myself and a group of friends and acquaintances decided to attend. We did, however, object to the £8 ticket fee to enter. It was supposed to only be a twenty-minute show with a few food stalls and circus entertainers floating around, after all, and to be honest, none of us thought a few fireworks would ever justify that price. That did not stop us from wanting to attend, regardless, especially as, being the only English person in our group, everyone was quite eager to join in with our somewhat strange (though at times understandable) tradition of celebrating an attempt to blow up parliament.
This being a park though, we all reasoned that there would be a gap in a fence, or a conveniently placed bench or low wall to help us to sneak in, and sure enough, we found one… and the man who had been assigned to guard it. So we continued to scale the fence, passing into the small cemetery that borders the park – a boggy, unlit patch that made a good attempt at swallowing my shows whole, before eventually resigning to the fact that we would have to watch the show from the fence. Just as we were making ourselves comfortable, along with two other groups who equally objected to the ticket prices, a strange, shrouded figure (honestly, I’m pretty sure this man had no face, only a dark cloaked hood), appeared at my side and informed me that there was a large enough gap about a foot and a half to my right.
If anyone saw the one or two dozen people emerging from a bush, they were at least kind enough not to chase us back out again.
It was at this point that one of our party – the newbie of the group, fresh from Italy, decided that now that we had found a gap in the fence for future reference, he simply must go and shower before we saw the show. However, this was about five minutes before the show was due to begin, and about ten minutes before it actually began. It was partly about language barrier, partly about a serious case of selective hearing, causing by a blind vanity driving an insatiable desire to change his shirt for the hundredth time that day. Needless to say, he missed the show.
There were indeed food stalls, as we had expected, selling all of the usual evening-park-event delicacies of fish and chips, curries, burgers and much-needed hot beverages, and there were indeed circus performers; I saw several Guy Fawkes’ on stilts strutting about. And then there were the dinosaurs. Quite how dinosaurs-on-stilts are relevant to the Gunpowder plot of the seventeenth century, or to Clissold Park, I don’t know, but it was definitely entertaining to watch several men trying to co-ordinate the various limps without causing to much damage to anyone.
And then the show began, and we squelched and wobbled our way across what had only that morning been quite ordinary grass, into what had become a quite unordinary swamp. The rain that had drenched us during our earlier failed attempt to buy sparklers for the occasion held off for most of the show, and was little more than a light scattering at worst. We had DJs, and the best choreographed playlist I’ve ever come across, with mostly poppy chart music, but mixed in with The Prodigy’s Firestarter and of course, Frozen’s Let it Go – and Do you want to build a Snowman to boot! I’m pretty sure it lasted for over twenty minutes too, estimating by how much my feet sank in the duration.
It was amazing.
P.S. Our Italian acquaintance text asking for our whereabouts ‘for the show’ exactly 3.5 seconds (I estimate) after the show’s big finale.