Bonfire night: as a child, the best night in the calendar.
Us village kids used to start building the bonfire at the end of the summer holidays - we used to head down the river with an axe and depending on how many of us there were would determine how big the tree we would chop down for our centre pole. One year there weren't many, so we decided to take a short cut and started building the bonfire around the telegraph pole in the playing field - the pile was a fair size before some miserable bugger made us move it.
Every bit of foliage or rubbish in the village would be plundered and dragged to site - I remember being so grateful to this lady who cut down her hedge on November the fourth and my siblings and I were allowed to drag tons of scratchy bushes five hundred yards to the bonfire and we did so until every scrap was done and were allowed by my parents to do so until late into the night. As an adult, I now understand the lady's smug expression as she leant on her door with a cup of tea and watched as we saved her a bloody fortune on gardener's fees.
As I am now a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to give our kids the same excitement that I used to have - that feeling of drinking tomato soup with clumps of powder in as we watched some bloke trying to nail a Catherine wheel to our rotten goal-post. The excitement of watching as the "tyre layer" takes, or the thrill of being knocked to the ground in the dark during a village-scale game of Piley On.
Trouble is, bonfire nights now have conatations of where to park, cost, health and safety and general blandness as kids aren't allowed to prod the fire with big sticks or throw each others coats onto it for a laugh. You can imagine my pleasure therefore when I spotted a few fireworks out of the window coming from a distant hill farm.
I hoofed the kids into their coats, threw them outside and chucked their tea out on a plate after them. Everytime they looked as if they might want to come in (i.e their little faces were pressed blue against the door), I cheered as another rocket flew through the sky, and the fun continued.
It may not go down as their best ever, but I think it was a start.