Tag Archives: Bonfire Night

In The Blink of an Eye

Wow, it’s thirty years today since an incident in my life that could have made everything so different, the blink of an eye made all the difference.

Bonfire night 1984, as every year before, we had made all the preparations for the night, during the half term myself and my two older cousins had built a large bonfire in our Nanna’s back garden and all our families would converge there for fireworks, baked potatoes and my Nan’s bonfire toffee.

But this year my cousin had found out, from a friend of his, how to make homemade bangers.  So during the half term, as well as building a bonfire, we had also made a fairly descent stash of these rather loud bangers.  I was ten years old and my cousin was almost four years older than I was, it fair to say I was quite easily led and looked up to him somewhat.

We made them in various sizes, the bigger they were, obviously the louder and more powerful they were.  On the night my cousin set a few of these off in various different circumstances.  I must add here, our parents were present and oversaw what was happening and would have stopped anything that was not considered safe.

As the night went on, I felt a itching in my right eye, it seemed to get worse as I rubbed it more and more.  Eventually it became very uncomfortable, so I went to my Mum and she took me inside to take a look in the light.  From there it was obvious to her that is was a little more serious than just a scratch or something in my eye.  My Dad was summonsed and I was taken to hospital.

Now I must say I expected a Casualty department on a bonfire night, to be very busy, but it was completely empty and I was seen quite quickly.

It transpired that both my top and bottom eye lids had been burnt.  They had been burnt in a way that it was caused by more than just a spark, something that had been melting had obviously caused the burning.  I confessed that we had used sellotape in the construction of our bangers and this was deemed to be the source.

The Doctor then said, that due to the position of the burns on both the eye lids, it was clear that I must have blinked at the time and this had in his opinion saved my eye, had the sellotape gone into my eye, he was sure I would have lost the sight in that eye.

I was given some rather thick paste to put on my eye lids for the burns and sent home, we went back to my Nan’s but as it was late by then, everything was almost over.  There was a bit of an inquisition for my cousin and I, but it was deemed just an unfortunate accident, although we were forbidden to make any more, to this day, neither of us has and the incident is still fondly remembered at family gatherings.

My eye look pretty ghastly for a few days, the eye lids were covered in very uncomfortable crusty scabs, but after a few days it just looked like a black eye, which through my karate I was well used to by then.

On Friday the local paper came out, and a few pages in there was a report that stated that the only bonfire night casualty in town was a boy with eye injuries, they never mentioned me by name, but it was definitely me, my claim to shame.

Just five days later, with a black eye, I went up to Newcastle to take my black belt and I passed, so the next weekend I made the paper again, this time for the right reasons.

Okay, I know this was an accident which was brought about by youthful stupidity, we were making things that weren’t legal, although everything we made them from were easily purchased by people our age, yet that doesn’t make it right.

But in the blink of an eye, a life could have been so different.  Had I not blinked, what would life be like with one eye, I know many people who live that way and have got on very well in life, but I can’t put myself in that place, because in the blink of an eye, I was saved from that life.

If you have read my post from a few weeks ago, “The Night I Stopped Believing”, then you’ll know that I had given up on the idea of God two years before this moment in my life, but when I look back now, it’s another one of those moments where I can now see a touch from God in my life, a moment that without His protection, life would have been so different.

BLINK by REVIVE
Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Fireworks, Well Homemade Ones!

I am lucky that 28 years ago today I escaped with both my eyes fully operational.

As a youngster both my parents worked full time, so during school holidays myself, my sister and my four cousins spent the days at my Gran’s small bungalow.  Schools around here break up for a week in October, so the boys spent the week collecting wood and old furniture, in order to build a bonfire in my Gran’s large garden.  We went everywhere around the estate collecting anything that would burn, we would make a bonfire in excess of two meters high, ready for the November 5th bonfire night celebrations.

Our parents would chip in with fireworks, my Mum, Aunts and Gran would make the food and toffee, the girls would make a guy (an effigy of Guy Fawkes), the whole family would then come together for the first time each year, the only other time would be Christmas Day.

And the fireworks fly
And the fireworks fall
But I have seen the best of all
And it’s true, after every charge is through
I can still hear the thunder call
(Fireworks by Brave Saint Saturn)

That year however, myself and my older cousin had spent the holiday’s not only building a bonfire, but building homemade banger fireworks.  I won’t go into the full details of how we made these and the ingredients, but you do need to know that they included sellotape.

We made them in varying sizes, which had differing results, generally they just exploded with a loud bang, louder than the bangers that were available to buy in the UK in 1984.  They had power too, one large banger could provide enough force to lift a galvanised dustbin lid several feet into the air!

As the night went along, our parents set of many legal fireworks and my cousin and I set off our homemade bangers, everyone was enjoying themselves, the 10 year old me included, but then my eye started to itch, it gradually got worse.

It itched more and more, the more I rubbed it the worse the irritation and then the pain got, so I had to show my parents.  Inside, in the light, it was clear that something wasn’t right, both my eye lids were raw, not just from the rubbing, but something more sinister.  There was no alternative, hospital, so off I went with my parents whilst the others continued the celebrations.

For a bonfire night, the hospital was rather quiet, so I was seen almost immediately.  The Doctor said it was clear that there was burning to both the upper and lower eye lids, but amazingly no damage seemed to have been done to the eye itself, he said I was lucky, I must have blinked as a spark or whatever it was had shot into my eye, in doing so protecting the eye from impact and an almost certain loss of some or all the sight in that eye.

It would appear that the sellotape used in the construction had melted on ignition and shot into my eye, I never notice the impact, only the itching sometime later, but luckily as the Doctor stated I must have inadvertently blinked, which save my sight.

I was the only bonfire night casualty in the town that year, I made the local paper, although due to my age at the time they didn’t mention me by name.  I would make the paper again, only five days after this event I passed my black belt grading, so I made the local paper two weeks running, although the second time they did name me!

Last weekend at the Church getaway, it was the first time I have been close to a bonfire since that very night 28 years ago, it brought back a few memories, luckily no one brought any fireworks, never mind homemade ones, although the youthful exuberance was still evident, as the younger members of the group proceeded to jump over the fire as it died down.

Unleash Campfire

Unleash Campfire

Twenty eight years later, I thankfully still have perfect vision, despite this event and my many hours spent wasted staring at a computer screen, either at home or at work.  So now I thank God for these moments in my life, that without me knowing it, he was there looking out for me, saving me from my own arrogance and stupidity.