Fireworks, fun for some

NICK BARNETT
Last updated 12:21 06/11/2013

The first bangs started about 8.35, when the sky was gunmetal grey. The noise peaked at 9pm and in the 10 minutes that followed, then waned quickly. A single crack at 9.35 was the last sound I timed.

Deaf Merrick
  Deaf Merrick slept through all 60 minutes of Guy Fawkes.
One hour, once a year. Well, add on Monday and Tuesday nights, and from experience tonight and tomorrow and a few random evenings till New Year.

Fireworks season is brief but intense; am I the only one who found the fireworks this year to be louder than usual? Maybe, as new technologies make cars and lawnmowers quieter, they perversely give fireworks more thump.

Or maybe, this year, more families than usual gathered in the little park over the road to have some fun with lights, noises and smells. (Scarily, over the other side of the park is a petrol station.)

Our pets were indoors. Merrick is an elderly cat who's nearly deaf, so he slept through it all. Phoebe, who hoots in fright if she hears a car backfiring, gave out a couple of barks. Connor didn't whine, but sought comfort and cover between my feet or my partner's, alternating between one protecting dad and the other. We distracted them with treats and games.

It was only an hour, but it was an uncomfortable and frightening one for the dogs.

On my Twitter and Facebook feeds, there was anger. Fireworks are stupid, ban them. Sign this petition, ban them. They scare my pets, ban them.

But I don't want to ban them. Or, more correctly, ban the sale of them and limit them to permitted public displays.

It's not that I have a great love for fireworks; I've had fun at family Guy Fawkes nights and at big displays, but I could get by without them in my life. I don't like reading about fireworks fights, and fireworks accidents, and fireworks cruelty.

What I feel is that someone else's ability to buy and let off fireworks, subject to rules, is the same as my ability to own a dog, subject to rules, or a cat, subject to rules. All are freedoms to do something we enjoy.

It's scary how quickly some people move from "I don't share my neighbour's idea of fun" to "We must ban what my neighbour does for fun". I think of the people who have commented on Four Legs Good this year to the effect that "I hate cats, they kill birds and crap on my potatoes" and so therefore "get rid of cats". Or the people who think certain breeds of dog are inherently and irretrievably violent and therefore "get rid of them"- even though they wouldn't recognise a dog of one of those breeds if it knocked on their door.

Some people are too ready to ban or restrict things that other people, not they, enjoy. I'd rather have sane, moderate rules and cultivate tolerance of other people's quirks than have a world where I can stomp on someone's annual hour of fun - because that would be a world where they can stomp on mine.

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- Stuff

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