Last night, in keeping with a tradition that has been alive for many, many years, we went to watch the firework display. From our position on the top of the hill, we could see bonfires and fireworks in almost every direction, huge ones and smaller ones and brightly coloured ones that lit up the sky above the city in a way that only happens one night of the year.
The cold was startling, I think perhaps it was the first properly cold night that we’ve had this autumn/winter season. So cold that our breath came out in great puffs like a dragon, and despite our jumpers and coats and scarves and mittens we still felt the cold deep in our bones.
There were other people who had made the climb to the top of the hill to watch the displays, a large group of us who claimed the best view in the city for our own. There were sparklers and singing and children running around, happy to be allowed outside to late, well past their bedtimes. There was noise and excitement and stomping of feet in an attempt to keep warm, but when the fireworks began, silence fell over the crowd like a wave. Young or old, student or mum, grandparent, brother, sister, girlfriend or wife, everyone just stopped. Stopped to stare at the colours exploding in the sky, stopped to stare at the sparks and the lights and the colour. It felt like time itself had stopped, just for those few minutes, when we all just allowed ourselves to feel the excitement and wonder of watching the fireworks claim the night.
There’s something soothing about watching the fireworks, something magical and calming about just observing, watching something unfold before your very eyes. On every colourful explosion I made I wish, because wishing on fireworks is almost like wishing on a star. It is magic of the modern kind, and we should keep hold of it.
When the display was finished, we all made our way back down the hill, back to our cars and houses and flats and halls of residences. Bonfire night is over for another year, only the faint damp smell of smoke lingering in the air to remind us of the nighttime display that, for a little while, outshone the stars. It may be over, but whenever I close my eyes I still see the lights of the bonfire, the sparks in the sky, and remember that this is the most wonderful night of the year.