Sunday, 13 November 2016

Volcano - The Day We Missed Vesuvius Erupting

19:11:00 Posted by Jill Reidy Red Snapper Photography , , , 1 comment
Last week, on my early morning walk along the prom, I spotted an old, spent firework, nestled in the grass on the slope above the sea. I stopped short. It gave me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, something akin to excitement.  I know exactly why. When I was a child there were very few organised firework displays. Most families bought a box of fireworks and a pack of sparklers, made some tinder toffee and parkin and invited in the neighbours. My mum always went one better and made toffee apples too.

One year my dad bought the usual box of fireworks from the newsagent but was obviously lured by an extra large volcano-shaped object, sitting majestically under the glass counter.  This probably sounds strange to anyone under forty but in the nineteen fifties it was rare to splash out on luxuries. This giant offering held such fiery promise that it definitely came into the 'luxury' category. We kids were beyond excited. Scrawled on the side, in a huge red, flame ridden script, was the one word, 'Vesuvius'. Even its name promised something exotic.

Bonfire night arrived, and as was tradition, dad positioned himself in the garden (somewhat reluctantly) with the fireworks.  The rest of us sat inside in the warm, lined up at the window.  Such was the build up to the display that each year we forgot just how quickly it would be over.  Vesuvius was to be the grand finale.

Dad approached the firework with a smouldering length of twisted newspaper and some trepidation.
From the safety of the back room we watched with bated breath.  Vesuvius began to glow promisingly. Dad stepped back. We waited. There was a flicker, a splutter and then.......nothing.  The procedure was repeated several times.  The audience began to lose interest.  It seemed that the display was over. 'Toffee apples?' Said mum. We jumped down from the window and went in search of food.

Suddenly there was a flash of sulphurous light, a loud bang, a whoosh, a crash and finally the sound of a million showering sparks. Dad burst through the back door, a big grin on his face, 'See that, kids?!' he yelled, before stopping short at the entrance to the back room.  Gradually, it dawned on him that we'd missed the highlight of the evening. Not only that, we'd also polished off the toffee apples.

The following day I set about pursuing my favourite activity after Bonfire Night. Searching for the empty firework shells had always held a strange kind of appeal - I think it may be linked to my love of jumble sales - you never knew what you might find. After a quick sweep of the garden, which yielded such gems as bent rockets and mangled Catherine wheels, I ventured out, eyes on the pavement. Halfway down the road, just by Mrs Smith's front gate I spotted a squashed and blackened shape. Just visible was the red letter, 'V'. I'm not sure if it was Vesuvius but I like to think it was.

Dad took a long time to get over wasting a shilling on the 'most magnificent firework never seen,' mum played down her role in luring us away from the window for toffee apples, and I tried to reassure dad that I was just as happy with the empty black volcano shaped package.

We didn't have another luxury for years.

Vesuvius Fireworks!

Volcano Haiku

Explosion of red
Menacing silver river
Ash covers like snow

Thanks for reading, Jill
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1 comments:

Adele said...

The day we went to Vesuvius - it was shrouded in mist - that was a bit of a let down too. You are a natural story teller Jill. Lovely.