It was a great deal of fun when I was school-age to go to the warehouse with Dad in early November and buy a couple of boom box fireworks collections for Guy Fawkes night. Not that I knew a great deal about the shadowy figure who tried to blow up the UK Parliament, but any excuse to let off some ‘party next door’ rockets was invariably sound.
When I was fourteen or fifteen the passion reached its zenith, and the array of ordinance we used kept the fun going for over an hour. My friends came over, and apart from setting the pool cover alight, we had a rewarding time. After that my interest in fireworks rapidly faded, and even the most impressive consumer products could not compete with the dazzling sky rockets at authorised events. Moving to Wellington for university saw me attend at least one of the waterfront fireworks displays, which can be enjoyed from many parts of the city, from Karori to the Mount Victoria lookout.
Employing a wider lens, it is clear that the clear-minded law-makers have sought to curtail the dangerous factors in consumer fireworks over the last thirty years. The generations before mine may well recall the availability of sky rockets, and how hooligans used to aim them at cars. The window of time for which it is legal to buy fireworks has been successively truncated, and now people have just three days to get their favorite rockets. Even so the stuff now sold has got seriously crappier, and it looks like ten years into the future we will be stuck with tossing sparklers into the air to simulate our November pastime.
Why not replacing it entirely with even better public displays? Perhaps augmenting the Wellington Waterfront display by having the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra blast out Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as we all stand watching wearing V for Vendetta masks. As a bonus we could march to Parliament afterwards and scare the hell out of any official still fastidiously working. I would drive down from Palmerston North just for that.
All this leads me to claim what I think is obvious, the writing is very much on the wall for Guy Fawkes. It seems very clear that private fireworks are being phased out, no doubt to the relief of the SPCA. That being the case, I think it is time to ditch the whole thing altogether. John Key has indicated this week that he feels the public is favourable to an outright ban, but that the Government has not worked on any legislation to that effect. Perhaps the issue could be dealt with at the same time as the flag referendum, as we would cut costs, and it would allow the old flag to go out with a bang.
Consumer fireworks today are wimpy and not worth getting, while public displays seem to get more elaborate, and spectacular (especially with German millionaires on hand to fund them). I might also point out that as the average property section size shrinks, while house sizes grow, there may not be much of a backyard in much of New Zealand to have fireworks in the first place. If for any further reason, lets relieve our pets of the yearly terror visited on them and get on with living in peace and harmony.