Wednesday, 14 November 2012
And so it should be. There is a prosaic answer to the firework question. Human hands have designed and created the pyrotechnology but, when we hear the rocket swoosh into the sky and, breath held, await the explosion of sound, colour and magic, we don't think 'what a clever chap' but just simply "wow!"
All that talent and skill packed into a little cardboard tube or box just for our pleasure. Those carefully selected chemicals cleverly blended to provide us with a few seconds of wow! This my friends is what we mean by progress and civilisation. Not those dreary places of work, not those orders and controls, not the direction of our lives by others. These are the curse of progress, the black side of civilisation.
This isn't to say that there should be no rules - the game doesn't work without rules. But that, like all good games, the rules should be simple, straightforward, understood by all. The rules shouldn't be the reserve of an elite, reserved only to those who following great study have touched on a few of those rules. Who know enough to answer the question: "can we do that?"
But this is not so. The rules are not simple. They are complicated, voluminous, confusing and contradictory. One day we can celebrate when the bewigged cognoscenti interpret those rules in a way that matches our common senses only for the same great minds to do the opposite tomorrow.
We went to the fireworks. And there were rules. Each year there are new rules. Not replacing the old rules but adding to them. And every year those lighting the sparkling, fizzing wonders comply with those rules. But they mutter; 'this is daft' or "we can't do this next year". One day they will stop. The rules - when you can start, when you can stop, what you can light, how you must set up, whether you can charge, how to deal with the (inevitable) presence of children - an endless avalanche of rules will eventually weigh these men down and the fireworks will be gone.
We'll be sad. A little disgruntled maybe. We might sound off to the bloke alongside in the pub or rant about it to our in-laws. But the fireworks will be gone. Killed by the rules. Our pleasure will be a little diminished. Life will be a little duller.
And what applies to fireworks will apply to all our other little pleasures. To those things - Christmas lights, mulled wine, the smell of grandad's pipe, the logs on the fire - that bring a moment of light, a little fun into our lives. The rules will be applied and each of those things will be no more. And we'll miss them.
But not so much as to do anything. To face the rule makers and campaigners for rules and say; "no, that's enough, thankyou". And one day there will be only rules and no pleasure.