Last will and testament of a fire cracker

This is the last will and testament of a fire cracker. I am huddled together with my fellow fireworks, jammed into a mid priced consumer packet. Any time soon we’ll be purchased and carried away to the suburbs. When our time comes we’ll be lit up methodically, one at a time, in a mundane kind of ceremony.

They’ll light my fuse and then I’ll fulfil my purpose: bang, whistle, pop. And that’ll be that. I’ll do my absolute best to entertain you, I promise.

It’s every fire cracker’s dream to go out with a bang, but here’s my dark secret: I’m terrified that I’ll be boring.

The thing is, I know that in a previous era I could have been so much more. I am descended from sky rockets.

Sky rockets: the glorious royalty of fireworks. They owned November. They were called rockets because they actually rocketed. They properly launched. That whooshing blaze of thrust was a thrill every single time.

I will never soar so high. We modern fireworks give it all we’ve got but I’m painfully aware that we come up short.

You see, ever since sky rockets were banned, the fireworks manufacturers have tried to compensate with noisy tricks. Modern fireworks aren’t filled with beautiful explosions. They’re built with loud bangs and ear piercing shrieks.

So that’s probably what I’ll be doing on Guy Fawkes night: shrieking at a low orbit.

Sure, I’m packed with fiery balls and a few other sparkly surprises, but mostly I’m all about being as loud as possible. I’ll go whoosh, whistle, crackle, and I’ll probably scream a lot.

Please accept my apology in advance, especially if you are an animal, a small child, or someone who just wants an early night.

Sometimes I think every firework like me should be banned outright. It’s not because I’m dangerous but because I’m generally more annoying than I am beautiful.

The heyday of Guy Fawkes has passed and it’s hard to see what we’re celebrating any more.

Ah, the golden era of Guy Fawkes. Sky rockets in the sky and bangers on the ground. It’s odd to think that it was once quite normal for children to carry small explosives in their pockets. Fireworks season used to be marked by the smell of phosphorus on little boys’ fingers and the shredded red debris of fire cracker paper everywhere, like exploded cheerios.

I never met a double happy myself. Double happies were fire crackers that looked and acted like tiny sticks of dynamite. I’m told they were traditionally used to blow up plastic army men and letter boxes.

Those reckless days are gone, which is probably for the best. Professional sky rockets can still generate a genuine wow at public displays. Maybe that’s all that’s needed?

Whatever happens, I hope the sparklers remain. I am jealous of sparklers with their enduring innocence and wistful magic.

In the meantime I might as well aim for a big finale that doesn’t make a total fizzer out of me.

My final wish as a firework is to be purchased by someone who has a bit of flair, someone who understands the value of working with an ensemble. Please don’t parade your fireworks one after the other as lonely solo items. Put a bit of thought into producing a decent backyard display. Plan ahead and light a few different things, safely, in creative combinations.

Dull firework sessions really get on my wick. I am the mediocre successor to the glorious sky rocket and this is my last will and testament: I wish to go out in a collective blaze of glory.


First published in Bay of Plenty Times 1 November 2013. Reproduced with permission.