On the 5th November, for Bonfire Night, I made my way to Poynton Park to watch the 44th Annual Fireworks show. I’ve worked Saturdays for about four years so have always missed the shows. This year, especially considering it wasn’t raining (a miracle), I decided that I’d make my way down and see what all the hubbub was about. It wasn’t a long walk so at half past six I donned my leather jacket and fluffy hat and made my way to the park.
I wasn’t the only one from Hazel Grove going to see the show. Along the A6, I fell into step with a migration of people heading the same way, all wrapped in hats and coats and gloves. I slotted into the group behind a family of five. A little girl with a lightsabre in hand lead the way, and a group of three girls followed behind me.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, sssslip CRACK! A noise signifying the first casualty of the journey. I reached the fallen girl before her boyfriend did and pulled her up. She laughed at herself.
“Thank you. Watch it, the leaves are wet.” She brushed herself off and asked if I was on my own. I explained that all my friends are from a different part of Manchester or were busy, and that I was only really coming to the show to write about it for a travel blog.
“You’re coming to Poynton for a travel blog?”
“I’m not a rich travel writer.”
And I didn’t need to be. The show was only a reasonable £7 to get in if you bought the ticket online. With my new companions, whose names I discovered to be Lisa and Sam, we skipped past the queue (the joys of buying an advance ticket) and made our way into the muddy park.
A crowd of people, a few fair rides, a whole bunch of overpriced food stalls were littered about. Queues melded in with the crowd and off in the distance a bonfire was throwing sparks into the air.
“This is your first year coming?” Lisa asked me as we headed, hot chocolates in hand, over towards where the fire was burning. I told her how I used to work every Saturday and so this was my first year where I was free. We chatted by the fire for a bit, warming up talking about what she did at university, what she did for fun, etc etc.
Significantly warmed up (both by the fire and standing in a crush of people who wanted to be near the burning pit), we decided to go get a better look at what else was going on. Behind the few fair rides there was an open lorry cart with a live band in it, clearly some cheap indie local band who were stoked to get to show off in front of hundreds of people.
Eight o’clock finally arrived and a short bald man climbed onto the stage to tell everyone the fireworks would be starting soon. Collectively, people left the queues for the pulled pork sandwiches, left the fire, and left the rides. We all walked beyond the noise and lights into a dark field. It was strange, a whole crowd of people, stood in minus-two-degree weather in a field in the dark just to watch some explosions in the sky.
This was originally going to be a very different article. I was going to joke about the amount of people that showed up to the fireworks show and how I didn’t get why we had to group up to watch some explosions.
But then this week turned the world darker, colder and scarier for a lot of people and I realised something. It’s about people, and how something simple like fireworks can bring them together. An act of kindness with Lisa changed my night from a lonely one to making a new friend. A shared interest, and a want to share happiness. There was a whole mix of people there; old people that had been coming for years, young families with kids, teenagers who had snuck in alcohol in Fanta bottles, people’s 44th time going and people’s first. It didn’t matter. We were ‘oohing’ and ‘aaaing’, and the fireworks were beautiful.
I didn’t have a lighter with me, so to light up my night I used the fire. Behind it you can see the faces of all the people I spent that night with. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. But they lit up my night regardless.
Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith