Postscript to yesterday’s offering:
We hadn’t planned any 10th-anniversary-of-coming-to-England celebration, and then suddenly last night we decided we ought to mark the occasion. It turned out to be too late to organize anything: all of our friends already had plans, or were on holiday/vacation, or couldn’t get a sitter. So we did what any British couple would do: we got a take-away curry.
After all, depending upon which report you read, in 2001 Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary, may have called chicken tikka masala “Britain’s true national dish”. (More reliable sources report he said it was “a true British national dish” as part of a speech celebrating multiculturalism; it seems he was widely misquoted, possibly by purveyors of chicken tikka masala.)
As we finished, a fireworks display started up, somewhere not too far away, beyond the fields across the road, and we stood in front of the house and watched. We hadn’t heard of any fireworks shows coming up, and it’s not the fireworks season here – that runs from early November through the New Year. Bonfire Night, aka Guy Fawkes Night, is November 5 and is the night for fireworks—not only traditional, but practical, as you’d be hard pressed to start a forest fire here on a damp autumn evening. But a few people generally start early, and then you can count on impromptu blasts pretty much anytime between then and January 1 as people find excuses to brighten up long winter nights, or just use up extra ordnance they didn’t use in November.
I use ordnance advisedly; the kind of fireworks consumers can buy here surprised us when we arrived, and still seems extreme. Coming from California, where amateur fireworks are illegal and one stray spark from a car’s overheated engine can start a hill fire that burns for weeks, I’m not used to seeing fireworks for sale in supermarkets. But they sell rockets longer than my arm here, things that look like something peace protesters would have railed against at Greenham Common. Some of these things carry almost half a pound of powder and will shoot well over 300 feet high.
I think what we saw was a professional fireworks display—huge golden chrysanthemums, brilliant blue and green sparkling clusters, rockets fizzing trails in enormous arcs, and even something red that came out in the shape of a heart—but I haven’t been able to find any kind of show around here advertised for last night. No nearby stately home making an extra pound or two as a venue for battle proms (outdoor classical music concerts with fireworks displays and even firearms displays—one proudly claims that it provides the only battle proms with over 200 canon fired to music). Oh, they have those around here, just not this weekend. This weekend, I couldn’t find so much as a village fête.
So I could be wrong. It could just have been somebody setting off a few rounds of high-powered shells and rockets in the back garden.
Or maybe it was the celebration we were looking for.