Happy Bonfire Night!

It might have escaped your attention that today is, indeed, the fifth of November, but such is the decline of Firework Night, Bonfire Night or even Guy Fawkes’ Night - take your pick - that I regret to say it has become just another day in the calendar.

Sure, there were firework displays over the weekend, including the classic Lions’ display at the Polo Ground on Saturday, and you could probably find another local one for the coming weekend, if you tried.

But those of us old enough to have lived through the golden age of homemade, back garden displays still have a soft spot for one of the big dates of the year, beaten only by Christmas and your birthday.

We anticipated Bonfire Night for weeks beforehand, saving up so we could buy individual fireworks, pick ’n’ mix style, and even playing ‘shops’, pretending to sell them to each other. Then, just before the big night, your uncle would come round with a selection box of Brock’s, Pain’s or Standard Fireworks. Standard, probably.

I swear the words ‘Standard Fireworks’ still send adrenalin pumping through my body, although the childish anticipation of all those years ago has given way to pure nostalgia. The other day I was delighted to see, in a local shop, that Standard Fireworks are still for sale, and this had me reaching for the iPad to see what Google had to say about it.

It brought mixed emotions.

The first thing I found out was that Standard Fireworks might still be for sale, but they are no longer making them in Huddersfield, where they used to employ 500 people.

For the last 20 years the firm has been owned by Black Cat, a Chinese firm, which uses Standard as a trade name, which I have to say is a bit of a damp squib - and damp squibs are the last thing you want on Bonfire Night.

My disappointment, however, was short-lived. For a start, five minutes of Googling rekindles the romance of those old 1960s and 1970s fireworks, and it is exciting just to be reminded of their names - Air Bomb, Mine of Serpents, Niagara, Silver Cascade, Snow Storm, Chrysanthemum Fountain, Jack-in-the-Box, Traffic Lights, Roman Candle, Mount Vesuvius, Spitfire, Witches Cauldron.

Bizarrely, although the best-named one of all was the Catherine Wheel, for some reason the manufacturers insisted on calling it Colour Wheel, Whizz Wheel or Pin Wheel instead.

It’s now difficult to believe that Jumping Jacks, which were potentially lethal, were actually legal, and there were others that were tube-shaped, with wing-shaped cardboard glued underneath, which promised ‘vertical take-off’. These went by names like Aeroplane, when Accident Waiting to Happen would have been more appropriate. And surely I must have dreamt that there were some fireworks - not just sparklers but actual fireworks, packed with explosives - that you could light and HOLD THEM IN YOUR HAND!

If you take an online trip down Firework Memory Lane, be sure to check out the artwork associated with the whole industry. I’m not just talking about the brightly coloured fireworks themselves, but the design of the boxes and - best of all - some truly gorgeous posters.

It all evokes the memory of the excitement and happiness of Bonfire Night perfectly, but now belongs in a lost era, because today we save our best fireworks for the wrong day: New Year’s Eve.

There is no denying that those big New Year displays are impressive, but they don’t even come close to the thrill of your dad lighting the blue-touch paper at arm’s length in your back garden on the fifth of November.