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REMEMBER, REMEMBER...

30-10-2006

...to ban fireworks next time you're passing through the House of Commons. Lynn Hawthorn has had enough of things that go bang in the night.

I am no kill-joy, but for goodness sakes, guys, enough is enough! For the past fortnight, the part of Wednesbury where I live has been ‘treated' to firework displays on a nightly basis and we're not even at the end of October. Am I alone in resenting the feeling that I have got caught up in a re-running of The Battle of The Somme?

Fireworks were invented by the Chinese, and have been used in celebrations ever since. Henry VIII was the first English monarch to have a formal display, Handel composed music to accompany an Hanoverian royalshow and they were used to euphoric effect to celebrate the end of the Second World War. Fine so far.

Most notably, they are forever associated in England with the failed Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes and his bunch of Catholic cronies decided to blow up James I and Parliament . I've never been quite sure whether the fireworks we have today are to celebrate saving the king's lifeor to simulate the effect of an exploding Parliament, but that's another debate…..!

Fireworks are also inextricably linked with religious festivals andin our multicultural society,October 2006 has been particularly busy on that front:

  • 1st Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement
  • 6th Sukkot, another Jewish festival
  • 21st Diwali, celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs
  • 22nd Hindu New Year
  • 24th Eid-Al-Fittr, marking the end of Ramadan for Muslims
  • 31st Hallowe'en

But these are specific dates on individual days, so why do we have this aerial bombardment every night for such a sustained period? And why do we still persist in clinging on to personal displays in our own backyards?

Of all firework-related accidents, 40% occur at family or private parties and 60% of them require ongoing medical treatment or leave permanent scarring. The most common injuries are to eyes, heads and hands, or any combination of those. Rockets are the firework which cause the most damage.

Scarily, 1 in 10 accidents are caused by the seemingly-innocent sparkler. If you think about it, these are not far away from faces or hands, often covered in woolly or synthetic fibre gloves, which may ignite, yet sparklers are the most common firework given to young children. There are now even INDOOR sparklers, which could do untold damage if handled incorrectly.

Seriously,I don't want to stop people having fun and celebrating their events, but please can we have some restraint? Stick to the key dates, and follow the safety code. Go to an organised display rather than risk injury to life and limb at home, and leave me and my pets in peace to watch the telly without leaving my seat every thirty seconds.

Happy Yom Kippur/Diwali/New Year/Eid/Hallowe'en/Bonfire Night!

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