Banged up

Gone are the days when, as a lad, you would break a thermometer open to swill the deadly mercury round your hand or merrily boil up any lead you could find just for a whiff of those fumes and the possibility of major burns as you forged your useless, one-sided coinage.  You could happily saunter into a chemist’s shop and innocently ask the old boffin for some saltpeter after looking up ‘how to make fireworks’ in an encyclopedia. 

I am reminded of such halcyon smelting days by today’s news of a guy being sent down for two years quite possibly for not having grown out of a phase I was only shocked out of at twelve or so because the boffin had retired and the new man, all harsh-stares-over-half-moon-glasses, meanly reported this request to my mother.  My mother, until then I suspect, hadn’t realised she’d raised what’s commonly known as a boy. 

In my defence, your honour, I had read ‘saltpeter’ as an ingredient and guessed it meant the blue touch paper (having already experimented with “other” things and  having gathered most of what was needed from my dad’s shed).  Okay, I also admit there was probably some mutual egging on happening too with a friend down the road. Playing with fire, I would argue, is a natural thing but it tends not to be done in front of one’s parents for reasons I have blanked out of my memory.

I have a theory that wars are never really about territory or anything as sophisticated as grievances to be settled.  No, armies only come into being because making a louder noise than the last one becomes an obsession if unchecked in earlier years.  It starts with match heads in silver foil (Can I say that without being arrested? Watch this space…) and the laughter initially produced then progresses to nervous laughter and finally horrified silence.   Somewhere along that line of progression, you (we) make a bang that causes the windows to shake so much you (we) leg it for a few hours in case of an ear-bashing we (who?) couldn’t hear anyway. 

Returning to the scene of our ‘experiment’ was an interesting introduction to the possibility of Divine intervention for all around the place we had stood were the twisted shards of the metal firework casing we had wrongly named  the “Fountain ” of flame.

So on behalf of all sons who have made their mother’s hair go grey years too early, I say this … “Didn’t you hear that noise or wonder where all the matches and parrafin were, or why the shed was smouldering?”

 

“Oh yeah…Sorry”

 

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