An advertisement for the village bonfire


Guy Fawkes Night was always one of the best when I was growing up. There would be a heaped bonfire built up in the middle of a farmer’s meadow. There’d be sparklers, a cluster of fireworks and thick wreaths of smoke on the cold breeze. You’d rush about wearing tightly-buttoned duffle coats and bobble hats and whatever else your parents had forced you into – and it’d end up as a fine evening of fire, food, vivid stories and maddened dogs.

Not in London.

I was playing these thoughts through my head yesterday evening at about twenty past seven when I was buried a few hundred metres underground on the Northern Line to Clapham Common with my head forced diagonally against a door. The train was stuck. Then the station was closed. Somebody passed out. A child looked horrified.

Half an hour later, I was spat out of the wrong station along with a few thousand others. Up on the surface there was a traffic jam, a caravan selling watery beer for £4, a shouting policeman and a furious lady. About a mile or so away the fireworks began. I arrived just in time to see the end of them. There was no bonfire.

The question: how on earth is London going to cope with the Olympics? The moral: always get out of the city on Bonfire Night.

Image credit: Simpson

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