I like 5 November – although clearly the Catholic conspirators missed an opportunity to influence Parliament. The failed Catesby plot allows us to celebrate with fireworks – and that’s what I’ll be doing this evening (probably after Strictly Come Dancing).
But a couple of years ago I was in Stratford upon Avon at this time and as well as fireworks I saw lots of Chinese or floating sky lanterns heading off in the sky. They looked very very pretty but fire-bombing the countryside has to be wrong. It is a novelty to be pretty much totally in agreement with the NFU ( see here, here, here and here) and CLA (see here, here, and here) on any subject but this is the one (it may be the only one).
In my local free newspaper- the Nene Valley News – there is some helpful advice on when you shouldn’t use these flaming things:
– when winds are greater than 5 miles an hour
– when there is any chance the fuel could drip on someone below
– when there are any buildings in the flight path
– when the flightpath has woods, haystacks or thatched roofs
– when there is an airport within 5 miles
– when the materials used could harm animals
– unless you are insured for any damage that you may cause.
This advice comes from the Northamptonshire Arson Task Force (I assume they are against arson rather than for it).
In the world of the Big Society where we pretend we trust everyone to be sensible and to do the right thing if they are asked you have to write guff like this rather than say ‘Just don’t do it!’ or, heaven forfend, to ban it.
As a manager for over 20 years I tried to restrict my absolute instructions to those cases where people really did have to do the right thing (hypothetical example – ‘Get out! The building’s on fire!’) and those trivial situations where someone had to make a decision and the danger was that the decision would take more time than it was worth (hypothetical example – ‘Shall we have black pens or blue pens?’)(and, no, I won’t allow former staff of mine to post comments to the contrary).
Floating firebombs seem to me to work at either end – the firebomber’s life is not going to be wrecked by having to stick to fireworks, sparklers and bonfires with no floating lanterns and the potential downside for the thatched cottage, crop or hay barn is very high.
Or let’s spice up 5 November by allowing children to throw stones anywhere they like provided they can’t see where they go. Maybe we need the Army to fire off a few howitzers into our major cities? Athletes should put the shot, throw the discus and hurl javelins after dark in built up areas.
I’m all for reconnecting our towns with our countryside but not through firebombing.
Do have a very nice, and safe, 5 November 2011.