Health & Safety

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Bonfire Nights always bring back memories of less Health & Safety-conscious days of my youth.

In those days municipal bonfires were rare.  Most householders set their own in their back garden.

De rigueur were spuds wrapped in clay (mud substituted but was useless) and roasted on the edge of the fire.  Contemporaries will remember this dewy eyed.  Don’t be taken in.  They were absolute rubbish – cremated on the outside, raw and starchy inside.

Throwing penny bangers at each other did for sport, along with setting off Jumping Jacks under the girls’ seats.  Thre’p’ny Canons were too good to throw.

Sometimes we’d drop bangers in milk bottles left outside front doors and then run like hell, leaving the smashed glass for the householder to clean up.

Less well remembered were Winter Warmers.  These would go down well now.

You punched a number of holes in a bean can or paint tin, attached a long wire handle to its neck, set a fire in it and whirled it round your head.  You didn’t get any warmth from it of course, but it hummed menacingly and was tremendous fun.

More conservatively, although outrageously dangerous by today’s standards, were Hand Warmers.  You could buy these at the likes of Wakefield Army Stores.  They looked like World War 1 cigarette cases and contained cotton wool soaked in meths.  You lit the wool, snapped the case shut and popped then in your trouser pockets.

I don’t think you can get them now. 

◄ Happy Birthday, Glen

Your God and My God ►


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John Coopey

Sat 9th Nov 2013 09:03

I'm sure there would have been far more accidents in those days, Starfish. There were more bonfires for a start, and with no proper controls. But that's not the point. Those accidents were FUN.

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Sat 9th Nov 2013 08:45

It would be interesting to know if the rate of accidents has gone up or down since H&S got involved.

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John Coopey

Fri 8th Nov 2013 22:15

Indeed, fellas.
We had an innocent and carefree disregard for H&S in those days. And owned responsibility for it too. If a banger went off in your hand when you were about to throw it, it was your own stupid fault and not Standard Fireworks for making it, or the shopkeeper for selling it, or Swan Vesta for inventing matches.

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Harry O'Neill

Fri 8th Nov 2013 21:07

Ah, John, `bommy night`!

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 8th Nov 2013 12:25

What memories this post evokes! I can recall
the back page of many a popular kid's comic carrying an advert. from a firm (was is Ellsdon
or something like?) with all sorts of gadgets
that would appeal - and the hand/pocket warmer
was one such item.
Youngsters loved such things - and their
busy imaginations could be relied upon to
find something to entertain each other - often
hazardous!! But that's how they grew into
wiser adults - unlike many adults today who do
the most stupid and often lethal things that
would not occur had they had the former self-
taught experiences of risk to fall back on.

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