When you have lived away from the UK as long as I have – 20+ years – you’d think you would have got over missing certain things from ‘home’.
Of course missing family and friends will always be there, but I’m talking about the little things … from television shows to food to events.
I remember how shocked I was when I discovered the UK had launched a new – and smaller – 50 pence piece while I was living in Australia.
I know in the big scheme of things, it’s nothing … but it really brought it home to me how long I’d been away.
Now I know that I can watch the television shows thanks to the power of technology and I can get chips, mushy peas and gravy anywhere … but to replicate ‘events’ is much, much harder.
I’m not talking Birthdays or Christmas – even though they will never be the same as they were when I was living in Blighty – I’m talking about the events that are uniquely British, from the Nottingham Riverside Festival to Pancake Day to, as it is tonight, Bonfire Night.
Each of these events have a lasting impression on me.
Yes, I know the Riverside Festival is basically a poor-man’s Goose Fair … and I appreciate I can have Pancakes every day if I so wish … but there’s something about those days that truly connects me to home.
Whether it’s the fact I would always see my friends, past and present, at the Riverside – normally while I’m stuffing an overpriced hotdog that had been heated to the surface area of the sun down my gob – or that Pancake Day would see Mum go into a mild panic as she looked around the house for the ingredients to make them [including orange juice, because I preferred that on my pancakes than Jif Lemon] … they were always very special days.
Which leads me to today. Bonfire Night.
While we never had fireworks at home – maybe a few sprinklers – the fact is we never needed any because we could stand outside our little garden and watch everyone else’s magical displays.
OK, so the reality is they were never that impressive – especially when compared to the organised stuff down at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground – but as a young kid, it didn’t really matter, because however bad the neighbours fireworks were, they were colourful and loud and that added something very different to my surroundings which, 99% of the time, would be quieter than a cemetery by 7pm.
Mind you, that lovely image is destroyed by the memory of Steven Stanley firing a huge ‘rocket’ up Greythorn Drive that – to our horror and relief – flew right underneath a car coming down the hill, only for it to explode seconds after passing the vehicle.
To say we got bollocked that night is a vast understatement.
But that aside, Bonfire Night is one of those nights that will be forever England for me which is why I’ll be watching this video and thinking of all of you later.
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