Edi­tor’s let­ter

EDP Norfolk - - Editor’s Letter -

One of the great com­forts of this time of the year is the log fire. We love a lit­tle hearth-bound con­fla­gra­tion, the present Mrs C and me, but we usu­ally hang on un­til the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber be­fore reach­ing for fire­lighters and logs.

This year, though, we were ready to crack on early. Mr Eg­more turned up in his truck in early Oc­to­ber and tipped a tonne (it’s all metric now) of sea­soned wood on to the drive­way and filled the bunker with his best smoke­less.

The chim­ney sweep came and did his thing with the brushes, some­how leav­ing the place cleaner than he found it, and a friend pro­vided the raw ma­te­rial for kin­dling; four dou­ble-bed sized pal­lets.

As any man knows, you have to have the right tool for the job and for years I had been split­ting the logs with a small hand axe; so puny was the thing that I might have been strik­ing some of the more ro­bust tim­bers with a wedge of Dairylea. But no more.

Now I have an axe fit for a war­rior about to enter Val­halla, a weighty blade with a keen steel edge atop a yard of hick­ory. I can hardly lift the thing.

But since all this prepa­ra­tion the weather has turned pos­i­tively sum­mery and at the time of writ­ing Ax­e­cal­ibur (doesn’t ev­ery man’s axe have a name?) re­mains un­used. I’ve had to con­tent my­self with a bit of twig-burn­ing in the gar­den in­cin­er­a­tor which is, frankly, a poor sub­sti­tute.

I seem to re­call that when I was a nip­per bon­fires in the gar­den were rare, but mem­o­rable, of­ten in­volv­ing some ill-ad­vised ac­cel­er­ant and sub­se­quent run­ning away. Bon­fire Night was also a bit of an event. My sis­ter and I would make a Guy out of var­i­ous old clothes and stuff it with news­pa­pers while a suit­ably com­bustible heap would be as­sem­bled in the gar­den.

There would be a visit to Cham­bers in Dere­ham to buy a box of fire­works – al­ways Stan­dard, never Brock’s, even though they were made in Swaffham in those days.

The big day would dawn, in­vari­ably damp and misty, and we’d wait im­pa­tiently for dark­ness to come. At the ap­pointed hour we’d troop into the gar­den and light the fire, al­ways sur­prised at how quickly a pa­per-filled dummy would dis­ap­pear into the flames. Then the rit­ual of the fire­works would be­gin.

Dad would care­fully re­move them one at a time from the box, read the in­struc­tions on ev­ery sin­gle

one by the fee­ble glow of an an­cient torch and then wave a lighter in the vague di­rec­tion of the busi­ness end. This one-at-a-time ap­proach gave each fire­work full value, but meant that the ‘dis­play’ lasted four hours. There were oc­ca­sional gems – one called ‘Shot­gun Blast’ did what it said on the tin – but most were pretty tragic, espe­cially the Cather­ine wheels nailed on to a bit of wood so firmly that they just fizzed away in a slow, ever-de­creas­ing cir­cle.

But we loved it all and were al­ways sad as the fi­nal Ro­man can­dle blasted coloured fire into the night, some­times to a height of three feet. The fun would con­clude with baked spuds, beans and sausages. Good times.

Now Bon­fire Night is a vastly more so­phis­ti­cated thing, with mu­sic, laser lights and com­put­er­con­trolled dis­plays at even the small­est vil­lage af­fair. Safer? Of course. More spec­tac­u­lar? Ab­so­lutely. More mem­o­rable? Hm­mmm

Do­minic Cas­tle Edi­tor, EDP Nor­folk Mag­a­zine 01603 772758 / 07725 201153 do­minic.cas­tle@archant.co.uk

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