Bonfire night, the cold nipping at your nose while flecks of ash burn through your autumnal finery. There’s nothing like bonfire night in the UK, but in China, while there is a lack of bonfire toffee, parkin and chilli con carne, the fireworks are far far superior.
Where fireworks are used throughout the day here to celebrate momentous occasions such as weddings and . . . *ahem restaurant openings, somehow we didn’t anticipate how unhappy the Chinese would be with a large group of westerners setting fireworks off from the penthouse balcony in a residential block of flats, our bad. So after giving up on fireworks from the roof we retired to an abandoned car park and carried on there.
Never having been irresponsible enough a child to play with fireworks, constantly terrified by television advertisements of kids with no hands crying, it was surprising how quickly I took to throwing fireworks around with childlike abandon and running from fire crackers thrown at my feet.
Bumble bees have to be my favourite firework here, a handheld firework that once lit you have around 3 seconds to throw, at which point it will do one of two things, shoot up into the sky twirling as it goes, or erratically start flying all over the place around head height. Suffice to say much squealing was done as well as frenzied running around. Happily though we all survived and I went from being a girl who wouldn’t contemplate holding a sparkler in an un-gloved hand to someone who can’t wait til new Year and the chance to throw fireworks it’ll bring.
I tried to spread the joy of bonfire night to the classroom as well. I got the kids to recite ‘Remember, remember’ and explained the history of bonfire night and why we celebrate it. I did though have serious issues explaining the words gunpowder and explosion to my grade 7’s, to the extent that to my 240 students understanding, Guy Fawkes tries to assassinate King James using acme style sticks of dynamite and cartoon black ball bombs, but I think they got the overall idea. We played a couple of games of Guy Fawkes hangman, which unlike the traditional game, has the added levels of being hung, drawn and quartered. You lose when finally a picture of a bonfire engulfs the chalkboard Guy.
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