There were fireworks this evening in Birkenhead Park. In fact there have been fireworks everywhere all evening bursting around the house and at one point we even had the clatter of some off-shot piece of plastic landing on the kitchen roof.
But the family was meant to be to watching the fireworks in the Park. But I was late back from work and by the time I got home the house was empty and the family had gone without me. I could have stayed at home and got myself a beer and put on some loud music but I didn’t. I scurried into a change of clothes and walked down after them to the Park.
By the time I got there it was too busy to find anyone so I watched the fireworks by myself surrounded by a crowd of thousands. They were good fireworks. Loud and tall. All around me there were babies in prams crying out in fear at the loud bangs and having to be reassured by their mothers. Walking back once they had finished I found some good pieces of wood to take back for the fire.
Good as the fireworks were they were not as good as the display we went to see late one summer 15 or so years ago in Italy. We were staying with Katie and Simon in the house they were renting in the small town of Bracciano, on Lake Bracciano, a few miles north of Rome. We had been told about a festival in the village of Trevignano one evening and so we went there with Kristen. She must of been four, maybe five.
Trevignano was around the other side of the lake. We were not really sure of what to expect of the festival and when we got there the village was filled with a great crowd of people. We ate pasta and tomato sauce in a dark restaurant and then walked out with the crowds and waited for something to happen.
Nothing happened for a long time although there was a gathering sense of excitement amongst the people. The excitement built to a pitch until around midnight when the fireworks started. Kristen was dead on her feet by then but the fireworks seem to come from a place centred amongst the crowds that were watching. There was no careful choreography but a steady cavalcade of noise and light from the rockets that were bursting in bright streams over our heads.
Later, when we were back at their house, Katie and Simon told us they had been able to watch the display from where they were sat on the other side of the lake in the garden.
I can well imagine that the Italians do good firework displays. I used to think the Spanish led the field in this, but around twenty years ago I think the English started to catch up. As a boy, I remember that most English displays I saw were very mediocre. Then, down here in Sussex, things improved enormously, and I think are probably as good as anywhere now. It is mostly, of course, a question of will and money.