Don’t play with fire

Every year, from mid-October to early November the sound of fireworks can be heard in our neighbourhood. Rarely are we able to see anything beautiful lighting up the sky – it’s usually damp and cloudy so we must do with just the sounds. I do pity our cat… And why do we find ourselves surrounded by noise? First Diwali and then Bonfire or Guy Fawkes Night – the latter the anniversary of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. These days I’m starting to understand as to why the day is still celebrated, but let’s not digress.

Recently I came across these great scraps:

Everything looks lovely in these two but the dangers are soon apparent:

I have not been able to trace the maker of these – there is only the number 4704 to go from. I also don’t know whether these are scraps or whether they would have been used as labels on fireworks (although that does seem unlikely). I do love the colouring and the children’s expressions of joy, wonder, fear and dismay..

The thought of fireworks and potentially dangerous explosions brought back memories of a book which was still popular when I was a kid: Wilhelm Busch’s ‘ Max und Moritz’. This is an illustrated book which details 7 pranks or tricks performed by 2 very wicked kids. They harm several people and animals and predictably it doesn’t end well for them. You can view and read the whole book online here (in German and English).

In this, the fourth prank, Max and Moritz fill the organist’s beloved pipe with gunpowder (while he is out of the house). When he comes home he settles happily in his armchair, ready to enjoy his tobacco.

illustration from Max and Moritz, a book by Wilhelm Busch. From Prank no  4, showing the organist settling down to smoke his pipe (which unbeknown to him has been filled with gunpowder).

And this is the result:

He does survive but is hardly recognisable. A very effective anti-smoking morale somewhere here, I’m sure. So my advice is: Don’t play with fire!

As we’re just past Halloween, I leave you with this scary performance by Arthur Brown from 1968 – Enjoy!


  1. I absolutely love getting those into my inbox! Thank you Wibi. Also, poor organist with an exploding pipe 😱☄️

  2. Great post, Wibi. I don’t miss those two months of non-stop fireworks in the UK, it was always an ordeal for our dogs and cats. I do miss the traditional organised displays on November the 5th though, and the burning of the Guy effigy. I noticed one event this year has made a Liz Truss effigy. Hardly a wonder with the Conservatives still in power.

  3. I vaguely remember that some of the fireworks we used to buy when I was a child were described as ones that could be held in the hand… and not just sparklers… but ones that gave out puffs of coloured smoke and didn’t scare cats too much … maybe I dreamed it but it could be true… I am talking about the 60s haha ! Thanx for the post Wibi !

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